How to make heroes who matter.

It’s not easy to pinpoint what exactly makes Edgar Wright’s films so wonderful – everything about them is a sheer delight – but if I were to throw a dart at something, I’d aim for his main characters. Despite their exaggerated circumstances – a zombie apocalypse, a small-town murder cult, an alien invasion, a superheroic quest, an adrenaline-fueled getaway – Wright’s protagonists are undeniably relatable, heart-on-the-sleeve wearing, equally tender, tough, innocent and capable, and human to the core.

Just how Wright crafts his one-of-a-kind heroes is the subject of this video essay from Karsten Runquist, who breaks down the exact elements of the characters and how the director arranges and reveals them in ways that both mirror the audience and indulge their desire for escapism. You can have the best story in the world, but if you don’t have the characters to back it up, ultimately you have nothing. Edgar Wright knows this perhaps better than any filmmaker of his generation, and perhaps that why he’s regarded as one of the best of his generation. This is must-watch stuff for his fans, and frankly anyone looking to make their own memorable characters.

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