You’ve received a letter: you’ve just been selected as one of the chosen few permitted to write in one of your favorite universes. Over the past ten, twenty, fifty years, five, ten, maybe a couple dozen people have added to this universe. The world is rich with its own mythology and is filled with characters you’ve loved reading about since you were a child. You’ve been itching to write your own stories about this characters and have been writing secret fan fiction about them since you were twelve.
What’s the first thing you do? Throw all of that out the window and start from scratch, of course!
I don’t know what I can say to this mentality. It’s not that the idea of remakes, reboots and revisions is completely alien to me. I can understand how, in 1989, it was considered necessary to give a Green Lantern worthy opening adventure to Hal Jordan that took thirty years’ worth of continuity into account- that, and the fact that a ring that can perform acts of alchemy at a moment’s notice is probably a bit powerful on top of everything else it can do. So, the post-Crisis new origins made sense. Similarly, although I would have done it differently, I can begrudge Geoff Johns his own Green Lantern: Secret Origin as it reflects the ways his work over the years leading up to it changed characters with decades of history (which, to the best of my knowledge, it did not erase) and it subtly changed the mechanics of Hal’s powers in a way that was relevant to the story. I do have issues with some of these changes, such as those I brought up in my review of Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, but all together these changes acknowledged existing continuity and made more story ideas possible, preventing these characters from becoming stagnant.
By this point it should be pretty obvious what finally set off this rant. A complete reboot of the DC Universe is in the process of happening. Looking at this article, it’s entirely possible that my Green Lantern example might not be entirely in vain. Volume 5 will have the same writer as Volume 4, just as Green Lantern Corps Volume 3 will share at least one writer with Volume 2. Still, the fact that the entire uniform is sporting costume changes similar to the hideous attempts at re-imagining the two major comic universes that the mid-1990s brought us makes me fear the unknown.
My point, though, is that this has become the rule, not the exception. Ten years ago, thanks largely to George Lucas and Star Wars, prequels were all the rage. Everybody needed an origin movie. Even remakes needed their own prequels, such as that of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. This trend, it seems to me, ended in 2007, when Rob Zombie’s Halloween called for fans to be reviled by this method of telling an unnecessary story.
By 2005, a trend that had been growing for the past few years truly blossomed. Remakes really hit the market big. The next few years led up to what is only now beginning to taper. Every movie needed a remake- “remake” in this case meaning one, maybe two movies, that disregard the originals.
And yet, somehow, this has “evolved”. Devolved might be a better term. Somehow, we’ve got Mortal Fucking Kombat saying “the only way to go forward is to go back, make just enough of a change to the original that we don’t have to follow any of its history, and make the first game again”. And you know whose fault it is? Star Trek. JJ Abrams. Screw you guys. Look at what you did to the world.
MizzeeOH and I were talking about Pirates of the Caribbean 4 reviews I was watching, and I came to a conclusion: the only Pirates film really worth watching, the only one that could be really good, is the one that was never made: the one leading up to Barbossa convincing the crew to rise up and exile Johnny Depp from the Black Pearl. That’s right, a prequel. It felt odd to be endorsing it. It felt even more odd to be saying that it wasn’t going to happen.
No, what would have happened would be somebody employing voodoo to send Johnny Depp back in time to witness- but not prevent- Barbossa’s mutiny, and then tell himself about a treasure of some sort. And we would have had this whole reboot of Johnny Depp looking for a treasure. I have complete confidence that this is what would happen if Disney ever got it into their collective minds to revisit Jack Sparrow’s history.
So what’s my point? Show some god damned creativity! You have a universe, don’t just keep the names and throw everything else out. Yes, I’m also looking at you, George Lucas! If you’re going to use the things you paid people to write for your universe, use all of them. If you’re a writer hired to write for a universe, don’t destroy the fucking universe first. Learn to write yourself out of a fucking corner. That’s what writers do. I swear to fuck if I ever get paid to write something, and then, while continuing to get paid to write, just pretend what I had already written hadn’t happened, I need to be shot in the fucking face. I’m not advocating going after these guys, I’m just saying I have standards, and if I do this, I need to be shot in the face.