Superplot & Subplot

Superplot & Subplot

I would like to explain that in an adventure film there are always several plots at the same time, using a few examples. You can see below how the superplot and subplot work and that there must always be a superplot and several subplots in a story.

Example 1

Stand by Me (USA 1986): Gordy and his friends are at the centre of the story. One of the friends eavesdrops on a conversation and hears that a corpse is said to be lying near the railway embankment. He tries to convince his friends to join the search for the corpse (Subplot: Coming together of companions). The four friends are fascinated by the thought of seeing a real corpse. They tell their parents that they are camping at a friend’s place and set off on their journey (Subplot: Search). They experience adventures, for example on a high railway bridge or with a dangerous dog (Subplot: overcoming obstacles). When they arrive at the body, the friends are all shocked and affected. During the short journey, the four boys get closer to each other and become friends (Subplot: Emergence of Friendship). The story is embedded in a frame story. Years have passed in the meantime. The friends have grown up and have all developed differently (Superplot: Inner Development).

Example 2

The Maze Runner (USA 2014): Some young people are abandoned in a clearing without a memory. It is a small area surrounded by walls. From there the young people try to escape (Subplot: Search), but outside an oversized labyrinth is waiting for them, which is hardly to penetrate (Superplot: Crossing a labyrinth). Some young people have already died trying to escape (Subplot: Loss of companions). Finally, one of the youths takes the lead of a group that sets out to make a tricky escape from the labyrinth. The labyrinth is not only confusing. In addition, machine-like monsters hunt the youths down and try to kill them (Subplot: Escape). The fugitives survive several trials and overcome large obstacles (Subplot: Overcoming Obstacles). Finally, it seems as if they manage to escape. Along the way, the young people get closer and become friends (Subplot: Making Friends).

Example 3

Star Wars (USA 1977): The galaxy is under the cruel rule of the Empire. Princess Leia, who leads a group of rebels, has been able to steal important blueprints of the Empire. But she soon gets into captivity. Before that she could smuggle the plans and a call for help from the spaceship – in a robot. The robot falls into the hands of farm boy Luke Skywalker, who receives the message and sets out to rescue the princess and help the rebels (Subplot: Search). His first stop leads him to Obi-Wan Kenobi, an old Jedi Knight who protects and guides Luke (Subplots: Inner Development / Learning Skills) Together with the space adventurers Han Solo and Chewbacca (Subplot: Companionship) they fly through space and board a large, Imperial ship, where they can free the princess. They then fly to the rebel base and analyse the Death Star, the Empire’s newest weapon, which can even destroy an entire planet. They find the weak point of the star and launch an attack (superplot: fight against a superior force). Together they can destroy the Death Star and achieve a first great victory against the overpowering Empire. Luke and Han Solo officially join the rebels (Subplot: Creation of Friendship).


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