Forrest Wickman, writing for Slate, on the recent trend of supervillains using elaborate PowerPoint presentations to explain their plans:
But lately many supervillains have been taking things to a whole new level. Like wannabe entrepreneurs, they’ve begun preparing their own pitch decks, complete with slides and videos and futuristic holograms. If Game of Thrones has “sexposition” (in which the show uses nudity to hold the viewer’s attention while delivering dry plot exposition), superhero movies have what I’d call “decksposition.” It’s no less shameless, and a lot more dull, because decks are a lot less sexy than sex […]
But it’s Marvel Studios that’s combined these threads to make the holographic infodump a summer-movie staple. It started with the Iron Man movies, where, given Tony Stark’s entrepreneurial streak, it at least felt more natural to the territory. It’s plausible that a huckster like Stark might recap the night of his parents’ death via a hologram presentation at an MIT Alumni Honors event, as he does in his co-starring role in Captain America: Civil War.
The hologram technology Stark uses (which in the real world is still at least a few years off), is a regular feature of the Iron Man franchise. But by Iron Man 3, the series’ villains had started delivering their own evil TED Talks. In that 2013 movie, Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian explains the fictional technology he will use to try to take over the country, via a holographic livestream of his brain.
A few points. I think that due to the rise of superhero films, we are in the midst of a “supervillain arms race,” whereby the villains in these movies need to have plans of increasing complexity.
— David Chen (@davechensky) July 19, 2016
It follows that filmmakers would want to liven up the exposition a little bit. I’m not sure what a good solution is to this problem — just have less complex plans? Or make the telling of them less visually interesting? It’s a tough issue.
Also, Wickman was prompted to write this piece due to a similar scene in the new Guardians of the Galaxy, where the main villain uses a multimedia presentation to explain his plans. As I tried to argue in our review of that film, the villain at least a character-based motivation for doing that.