Group Dynamics

I recently was able to watch the new Avengers movie and I adored it. And while I was watching it, I realized that one of the reasons the movie was so enjoyable for me was because of the group dynamics. This is a group of individuals thrown together and told to play nice, and they don’t.

A huge pet peeve of mine (particularly in epic fantasy novels, but it happens in other genres too) is when diverse groups of characters join up and have no problems working together from day one. Everyone is curious, polite and paitent with their new group. Any cultural differences are funny and not a huge problem for anyone.

Now, think back on a time when you had a group project in school or for work. Was it ever that smooth? Everyone did their job with no misunderstandings, fighting to be the leader or trying to back out of jobs? If so, you are very lucky. Most groups take time to develop and come to understand one another.

I play DnD so let’s use that for an example. In my group we have a wide range of characters, and while we fight well together there are still hiccups where we don’t agree with what to do next. One character wants to charge into battle, another wants to try to talk it out while others are all for avoiding the enemy entirely. We argue and bicker about what to do, who has the final say-so, and what do we do if someone goes against the group’s decision. It has led to a lot of development to the campaign and to our characters.

In a story, if you have a group of different people coming together, there are bound to be growing pains that have to be dealt with. Trust has to be earned. If an elf has spent his entire life thinking gnomes are sneaky backstabbers, he is not going to, on Day 1, let the gnome keep watch alone during the night. Trust isn’t there. Friendship isn’t there. These are things that have to develop over time.

A great way to do this is, as in The Avengers, have a unifying moment, a loss of something dear to all the characters, a common enemy they cannot take down alone, something that is important to all of the characters put in dire danger. This gives them a reason to work together, to push past the uncomfortable process of suddenly working with strangers to find a common ground.

What are some other examples of group dynamics in film, fiction or TV?

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1 Comment »

  1. Laura W. Said:

    The Dragon group/team from Ender’s Game comes to mind. As do the various alliances in The Hunger Games, in a very different way.


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