Note: This was from a while ago, and I forgot to respond to the author & post it. Honestly I'm just doing some analysis for fun.
"You had said that some big problems is the amount of coincidences, and Crow being inactive during the scene. And it was a deliberate choice to have the story start out with Crow, our rugged, daring action hero...having basically failed to pull off a Raiders opening. I'm very fond of subversions like that, so I actually really want to retain Crow having been captured and entirely at the mercy of both luck and Eve's help to escape.
I'd ideally like to keep the general thread of the chapter intact, but alter some specific little bits to not be so goofy. I'd even be willing to have the witch doctor try to kill Crow and Eve as they are fleeing the village, thinking that if they die, the explosion will suddenly stop. So a bit of extra action. But otherwise, I want to somehow keep it more or less the same. But I do agree with your points to not have it be quite the big string of lucky coincidences for Crow, but I want some element of crazy luck to be in play."
There's still some holes in your way of thinking. Here's the question: Does Crow fail at being a hero? How is he the main character of the story, who has motives and agency? There are stories where people just end up lucky, but it is usually a plot device that enforces a theme. Ex: Cinderella remained kind under her abusive family and ended up marrying the prince.
Eve is the one who saves Crow. She is in control of the situation. Both of our heroes cannot submit to circumstances. If you want to subvert the trope, Eve would be the hero, swooping in to save Crow's sorry ass. He's the one who messed up and got caught. Eve does seem superior in the very first chapter. She doesn't get hurt, is responsible for patching up his wounds, and overall is introduced triumphantly as opposed to tied up.
He accepts death like a coward so many times that with a few changes in his perspective of Eve, it could turn the their roles immediately around. If Crow isn't as competent, he would view Eve as the 'rugged, daring action hero'. Crow becomes a sidekick that needs saving. If we think he's he main character, then Eve takes initiative and drives the story forward, THAT would be fully subverting the trope.
If you're gonna open with Crow failing completely, it doesn't establish him well as a main character. Some heroes do start off failing, but usually something good they did changes the situation to benefit them. Ex: The opening of Megamind as the hero fails. We backtrack to the past, and in the ending, the failure show in the intro is only a small part of a victorious battle.
Heroes don't survive. They win. And they are people we root for to succeed.
There are so many alternate paths. You could give Eve and Crow have a different relationship, such as equal partners with different sets of skills. Balancing the characters is a better method than having one overpower the other.
On the antagonist of the chapter: Prevent the witch doctor from even having a chance to kill Crow & Eve quickly. His whole show of killing Crow could've just taken a few seconds. Don't let him have that chance.
What is the point of the witch doctor anyway? He poses no threat. An active volcano, however, is merciless and not a complete idiot.
Do you even need the whole tribe? They only serve as something in the way, and probably wouldn't be significant in the story. To say the truth, it's better to have the tension of surviving an active volcano than avoid getting killed by a (sorry) underdeveloped tribe of people, whose religion is just a plot device.
You don't need the full backstory and culture, but religion is something that a society develops. If the ritual worked several times on the active volcano, there is good reason for the witch doctor to want to sacrifice someone, anyone really. (Does it really require someone like Crow?) Religion IS a good motivation, but people don't respond to a volcano about to erupt with a good show. They just say the words and kill someone, and the gods are supposedly happy. Also, what is the significant about the diamond/crystal?
More importantly, why would they live so close to an active volcano? They are definitely aware that it is active, seeing how it is part of their religion and culture, but wouldn't every few generations get wiped out by the volcano? They would've moved far, far away, and worshipped their god from a safe distance.
Overall:There's a few ways you could go from this. Either you change Crow & Eve's characteristics and further develop the tribe and their conflict with Crow, or you throw a bunch of stuff away and revise. Stories can go through huge changes. Get additional feedback, but a new version I can envision is this:
- We open with Crow obtaining the treasure independently.
- The volcano is about to erupt. He knows this, as well as the fact that the treasure would be lost if buried in molten lava. This is his last chance, and he works through whatever's preventing him from taking the treasure.
- He escapes. (make this scene long or short, but it has to be tension-filled) But as he almost reaches the surface, something prevents him from going further. (Perhaps it is the traps set by the tribes that once lived here? :D?)
- The lava approaches, there is no way out,(keep the tension going!) and... at the last moment, Eve shows up!
- They execute a daring rescue and escape. Don't make it easy. Our heroes are being smart, working together, defying odds, and barely making it. This would be the climax of the chapter.
- They get out, but there is still the danger of the volcanic eruption and burning jungle, until they finally reach the plane. There's much less tension, but still a sense of urgency.
- As they get away from the damn place & recover a bit, insert conversation that establishes their relationship. Explain why Crow was getting the treasure alone & how Eve went to rescue him. Offer some hints on what they gain from the treasure, why they are in this line of work, and their lifestyle. Witty banter is optional.
And bam! You have started your story with a action-packed scene that clearly establishes your characters as both of them face a dangerous environment. You have an everyday job in a daring line of work, a rush against time & very very dangerous lava, and some references towards the characters' personality, backstory, & motivations. Instead of things happening, the heroes MAKE things happen and are actively responsible for their survival. What's next for our heroic adventurers?