5 Oddly Specific Movie Tropes Hollywood Is Obsessed With Right Now

If you don't open your movie with amateur smartphone footage, why bother?

justice league superman spider-man homecoming opening
Warner Bros/Sony Pictures Releasing

As sites like TV Tropes like to continually remind us, movies are full of weird clichés, similarities and parallels.

Sometimes, these can be quite broad - a few years ago, it used to be common for comic-book movie villains to have similar or identical powers to the hero - but other times, they can be unusually, oddly, specific.

Remember that time when when virtually every big-budget movie featured a final battle centred around a bright blue sky beam? Or how about modern Star Wars movies exclusively casting British brunettes in their female leading roles? Tropes like this can be hard to notice while you're actually watching the movie, but if you take a (big) step back and assess everything you've watched lately, you might be able to spot a couple of peculiar trends forming for yourself.

And as you may have guessed, the movie industry has sported a couple of bizarre ones recently. They're probably pure coincidences, but curiously specific tropes like these do demonstrate how art can subtly influence those who are making it, even if they may not have noticed that themselves.

5. Opening Movies With Low-Quality Handheld Camera Footage

justice league superman spider-man homecoming opening
Warner Bros.

They say the opening of a movie is the most important bit. These are the moments that will either invest the audience in your story, put them off completely, or leave them totally disinterested in whatever it is you're doing. Let's hope for the first one.

Lately, a lot of movies have tried to make their opening minutes a bit more unique by featuring a scene or two that's filmed by one of the characters in a vlog-style fashion (often complete with "REC" or timestamp overlays, grainy amateur film quality, and a side letterbox).

But it turns out that everyone has started doing this, so it's really not that unique at all.

The very first thing you see in Justice League is Henry Cavill's mutant CGI upper lip being recorded by a kid with a smartphone, and Spider-Man: Homecoming - after a short opening section involving Vulture - shows us a vlog Peter Parker made when he visited Germany during Captain America: Civil War.

Spider Man Homecoming Giant Man
Marvel Studios

In addition, American Assassin opens with a few shaky handheld shots of a couple holidaying on a Spanish beach, and The Shallows shows two people being recorded while surfing, after a kid finds a helmet-cam and plays the footage back for himself.

In a similar vein, last year's Valerian and the City Of A Thousand Planets opens with several grainy letterboxed shots of a space crew in 1975.

American Assassin opening scene

It's an odd trend, especially when you consider that a few years ago, blockbusters often started by trying to wow us with bombastic action sequences (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Man Of Steel, Star Trek).

This method is a lot more intimate and puts you right in the middle of the action, so it works just as well all things considered.


Writer and video editor WhatCulture/WhoCulture. Bought a 4K copy of The Martian in 2016 and still haven't watched it.