So, What is Action Sci-fi?
Action Sci-fi is one of the many hybrid genres that the world indulges on day after day. Found in movies like Star Wars and books like the Marvel Comics, it's not often that someone can say that they haven't been subjected to it once in their lifetime. Unlike the genres Action and Sci-Fi and their separate conventions and themes, Action Sci-fi takes a fusion twist on both and still keeps the spirit intact. Taking the themes of the good verses evil and paranormal abilities from the sci-fi genre and the epic cliffhanger boss fights from the Action genre, we find ourselves enveloped in a world of superheroes and supervillains, lost within extraterrestrial boss battles and the inevitable character deaths.
Origins of the Action Sci-Fi genre
Throwing back to the 19th century, we can witness the beginning of the two genres that ultimately came together to create a dream genre. Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley in the early 19th century, is considered to be the first science fiction novel to be published and recognised. Its conventions and ideas were well beyond the technologies and science that existed in the time, and the idea of stitching body parts of humans into one marvellous monster and shocking it back to life was of impossible terms. Hence the term Science Fiction.
It isn't clear where the literary genre of Action began, but the first Action film is a silent film by the name of The Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter, 1903). In all its glory and successful use of the battle and disaster conventions, the action genre was born. One of the most profitable movie series of all time, according to the Guinness Book of Records (1900-2016), is the James Bond/ 007 film franchise. This just so happens to belong to the Action genre. The Bond movies are constantly portraying natural and human disaster themes, while adding in massive boss fights and brawls. It is still being continued after over 60 years worth of films.
Conventions of the Action Sci-Fi hybrid genre
In the Action-SciFI hybrid genre, we see more common conventions of the SciFi genre than that of the Action genre in technical terms. Camera shots are similar to those of Horror; Extreme close-ups, Following shots and Extreme Far shots. Often, the shots are quickly moved between far and close, especially in scenes where a large scale event, like a battle. Different worlds, similar to the multiple realms of the Norse mythology in Thor, are usually dictated through differing camera shots. Many action scenes are also shot with an 'illusion' angle that allows the fight scenes to be shot without the main actor (a stunt double), and makes the 'blows' seem real and powerful.
Character and Story conventions
Most often seen in Action-SciFi, the protagonist of the storyline is a hero or group of heroes with superpowers of extraterrestrial qualities or humans with high skill levels in fighting. In solo films, the character is often unaware of their true abilities at first, but come to their potential nearing the end, often in some sort of a major battle sequence. In most of the Action-SciFi films, the protagonist is the focus of the storyline, or their battle toward an evil force. Like the Avengers Universe (MCU), the stories also involve a moral to overcome some sort to obstacle, like retrieving objects of great power (The Infinity Stones in the MCU)
Typically, Action SciFi texts are set in civilized fictional planets or 'realms', as well as Earth. These settings are varied in the time of which they happen in and they are often a part of an extended universe of different 'realms' or 'timelines'.
Themes of the Action-SciFi hybrid genre
- Good Vs Evil - A battle between opposing forces to create a better world, often followed from the 'Good' side.
- Alien Races - An example being the Chitauri in the Avengers film, Alien races are usually the base of most superhero and supervillain powers
- Paranormal Ability- The Action-SciFi genre is solely based around superheroes and supervillains, and the magic of the comic world. Of which most of the characters hold powers inside of themselves,
- Superheroes- The heartbeat of the Action-SciFi genre.