Style vs. Plot in Media

Lucia Cericola, Staff Reporter

Let’s be honest. The plot of Batman was mediocre. A superhero dressed in all black, flying around in Gotham City, and fighting crime for three hours is nothing of a revolutionary storyline. The vibes of the film, however? The dark grimy lighting, the cinematography, and Nirvana playing every possible second? The aesthetics themselves rank a 10/10.

Content is what’s being presented to the audience, the physical plot, the written dialogue, and the story being told. Style, however, refers to the techniques a director or producer uses to create a movie, including sound elements, cinematography, music, and lighting.

So in simpler terms, when are the vibes or aesthetic of a movie more important than the content itself?

Ideally in a movie, TV show, or any piece of media, there should be equality in the substance of the content that corresponds to the quality or uniqueness of the style. However, occasionally a director or writer can rely heavily on one side, yet still, produce something well worth watching. Which is more important?

Take the Marvel Cinematic Universe as an adequate example. Usually, when you go to see a Marvel movie, you have a set expectation of what you’re going to get. It’s almost as if that’s the point of Marvel movies now, only now they figured out they can just bring any old actor on screen for nostalgia points and automatically up their box office value by millions. That’s why a lot of people weren’t so fond of Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness.

“The story is a bit muddy, some corny moments, but the visuals are amazing. Not a perfect movie by any stretch, but Sam Raimi fans will appreciate his signature style in the MCU.” writes one fan in a Twitter review.

Sam Raimi saved Multiverse of Madness from the pit of bland, forgotten Marvel movies simply by elevating the style and adding horror elements that aren’t typically present in the stale style of MCU films.

Even if the content of a movie is entertaining, if it’s conveyed in a tedious style the plot becomes repetitive and can be paralleled to any other movie. Why do you think the only people hyped for Jurassic World: Dominion are old fans? Media lacks originality, relying on tired, overworked plot points overtaking any sort of leap in the dark with a unique style.

It’s difficult to find a perfect balance between the two elements. When a film has both a riveting plot complete with a creative artistic or directing style, it becomes distinctive from others. A perfect representation of this concept is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

“The style of that movie is absolutely phenomenal. The comic art style is what really made that movie pop. The content was also amazing, but the style of the movie was really what set it apart.” says Steven Kozikowski ‘25.

“Vibes are more important for sure. They make you feel more connected to a movie. And many movies have the same type of plot or follow the same storyline, so the details and aesthetics set it apart from others.” says Brina Abere ‘25.