… across the nation(s)
The below is a vain attempt to capitalise on the never-ending stream of Marvel and Star Wars articles that get so much attention. Yes, I’m selling out. Or at least I would be if I was going to get any money.
Like many my age, my childhood consisted of Star Wars and Marvel. Star Wars and Spiderman was what made me happy, these creative properties transcending all things. The Star Wars movies were more than films. I did not watch them, I was in them, I was fully immersed. I splashed and flailed about in them, relishing every moment.
It is sad then, that I must watch these cherished creations become tarnished. Cracks began to appear and they are rapidly becoming wide gaps, revealing mutated hornets nests. Soon, the dormant mega hornets will awake, emerge from their hives and peck our eyes out. Yes, they are so dangerous that they don’t even need to sting.
Of course, it has to be admitted that some of these cracks have always been there (as is always the case with creative endeavours), but they were papered by the innocence of childhood. With the cynicism that comes with age, I decided dinosaur wallpaper was no longer appropriate, had the walls stripped and could finally see what my naivety had blinded me to and the trends of Hollywood had exacerbated. Are we still talking about a space opera and superheroes? I’m not sure anymore, I think so, though even I’ll admit that metaphor was somewhat laboured.
What am I trying to say?
Well, as Star Wars and Marvel made me happy, I should be ecstatic that they’re churning out films by the bucket load. So why am I not? The answer is complicated. There are many answers as to why I’m unhappy and a lot of that amounts to bad life choices, unfortunate political climate, an incredibly unfortunate actual climate and just general poor mental health.
In terms of Star Wars and Marvel, there are also many problems (the fact that many of the current Star Wars flicks are written by morons aside). Ultimately, it comes down to money and saturation. The original Star Wars films were great because they were just that, Original. They had their charm. They were fun. The prequels were fun (despite the amount of hatred people like to dump on them with a smug sense of self-satisfaction) and part of what made them interesting was seeing the Star Wars universe with modern special effects and movie trickery. Episode one also came out 16 years after Episode 6. There was a wide enough gap as t generate interest. Original fans would enjoy watching a new film and a new film would encourage new fans. Then there were another 10 years between Ep 3 and EP 7 (this numbering gets confusing). Many second-generation fans (i.e. my generation give or take a few years) had kids of their own to get into the franchise.
Now Disney has got their grubby little hands on the franchise, there’s talk of a Star Wars film every year from now and until the end of time. Some sources even suggest 2 films a year. Clearly, Disney has never heard of the concept of their being too much of a good thing, and presumably neither have audiences.
Since their take over we’ve had the Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi and are eagerly awaiting the release of Solo. I say eagerly awaiting, we all know that’s going to be a steaming pile of shit. I know this for a number of reasons. One, the origin movie is a tired old thing. Two, Han Solo was one of the coolest characters because we knew nothing of his past. He was just a roguish smuggler who happened to be in the right (or wrong depending on your outlook) place at the right time. He was an opportunist who got caught up in bigger things because of the chaotic nature of the universe. What he was getting up to before Obi-Wan hired him is irrelevant and I’d go as far as to say should remain unknown. It can be whatever we want it to be. In fiction, there must be blanks for the audience to fill in for themselves. Attaching unnecessary backstories to these characters takes away their mystique, it chips away at their charm. Unless it’s amazing, it’s terrible. There’s no middle ground. Plus, Han was played by Harrison Ford who leant the character his own charisma which is another reason we responded so well to him.
2019 will see the latest trilogy wrap up with Episode 9: Another Bloated Mess That Shits on Your Dreams. However, Disney does not intend on leaving it another 10+ years before making some more. Some sources cite another trilogy from the worlds most underwhelming man Rian Johnson, director of The Last Jedi, which was arguably the weakest entry in the Star Wars franchise and that includes the holiday special (ding ding ding, that folks is the 1 millionth time that joke has been used in the world of blogs). There’s also talk of Disney following the DC and Marvel model of producing several TV shows. I, like Mark Hamill, am becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of oversaturation. More on this later.
Speaking of Marvel, let’s go onto that. It’s odd to think that Marvel almost went bankrupt in the 90s. Their name comes up so frequently their logo is permanently printed on my eyelids. I can’t sleep. With the relative successes of X-Men (2000) and Sam Rami’s Original Spider-Man (2002), Superhero films were showing as a potential box office draw, owing partly to the fact that they were good. Sam Rami’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 are still the best. Even Spider-Man 3 isn’t the worst, that honour goes to The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Whilst these were not necessarily produced by Marvel as we know them today, they were Marvel creations. This gave them the confidence to go off on their own with their back catalogue of superheroes. Their subsequent films were so successful they seemed to create the concept of an expanded cinematic universe. This concept has generated so much money, that numerous other studios have tried to replicate it (there’s even talk of a Hasbro expanded universe, what the hell are Micronauts?). However, they all seem to forget that Marvels cinematic universe came about over years of carefully crafting said universe. They’d test the waters with fairly innocuous cameos, they built up the possibility over time, focussing first on establishing characters that work independently before finally giving us the big ensemble piece.
This is too much work for most studios who want money and they want it now, so they grab whatever partially formed characters and intellectual property they have and smash them together, exploding some cop cars and toppling some CGI buildings. So, in a way, Marvel has a lot to answer for.
Anyway, sidetracked again.
When everything was new and the superhero genre was relatively unexplored territory, it was exciting. Iron Man, yes please. Thor, sure why not? Captain America, Hulk, all those guys are fun to watch (well, not the first Captain America, that was shit). Iron Man 2, okay, the first was pretty good. This all culminated in Avengers, which culminated in more sequels, which culminated in Avengers 2, which was just Avengers 1 again, but this allowed them to create Vision. Then there were more sequels and some more new characters which are becoming increasingly hard to keep track of if you have a job and a family and therefore, not a lot of free time, even for a former childhood nerd like me.
All of this is building up to the upcoming Avengers Infinity War. Which does look good. All I can say is, Thanos better kill at least 3 people, otherwise, we’ve spent 10+ years building up a threat for nothing. Plus, someone pointed out that he looks a lot like a purple Homer Simpson, so he has to go the extra mile to be threatening.
It’s pretty much a given that characters will get killed off. Chris Evans has been saying he wants to leave for years (but there’s just too much money at stake damn it!). It’s pretty telling when even your actors want out.
Should beloved characters sacrifice their lives to take down the biggest ever threat that is Thanos, an almost godlike being who wants to wipe out half of life in the universe, it seems like a good place to end it. Yet we know that it won’t end there because Avengers 4 is already confirmed, with the Russo Brothers stating that the title ‘should scare us’. I can only assume that it’s because we’ll realise that these films will go on and on forever. Cinema will stagnate beyond repair and before we know it we’ll be pleading with Russia to hurry up and nuke us all.
A tad overdramatic perhaps. But the entertainment industry is largely what makes life worth living. Why work and toil away and do all those pesky things that keep us alive, if we can’t enjoy some entertainment?
Returning to Mark Hamill’s comment. He’s right on the money. Not just with Star Wars, but everything. If you keep churning out films year after year, showing no signs of stopping and announcing them years in advance, interest will eventually fizzle out. Star Wars and Marvel films will come to an end, but not because their stories were finished, but because people stopped caring. Franchises will cease to be profitable and will, therefore, be terminated.
We’ll be left hollow as a result. I can feel it already. After the shit of The Last Jedi, I can’t even look at my DVD of The Empire Strikes Back without feeling the heavy burden of knowledge that the galaxy far far away is being held up like a piñata and beaten repeatedly. All the good candy has fallen out and the stuff dropping out now is not fit for human consumption.
Is it a coincidence that both franchises are owned by Disney? Will we see Star Wars crossover with the Avengers in a desperate bid to cling onto our collective imaginations?
I hope I’m long dead before that day comes. No doubt beaten to death by Mickey Mouse wielding a plastic lightsabre. Let’s just all agree that despite the many flaws, Star Wars was better when it was just whatever George Lucas wanted.