Making Everything A Franchise Caused A Reaction
So, I’ve noticed two recent trends that seem to be a byproduct of the huge influx of franchise films, specifically superhero franchise films. They’re not so much a reaction as a necessity for things to go on as they are.
These trends are meta-shorthand and meta-expansion. The tendency to speed-run stories or add on top of existing ones. Never before would it be reasonable and sensible filmmaking to start a movie by skipping a hero’s origin story. To jump right into Spider-Man living in the MCU with little context. I’m unsure if a mutant spider is even mentioned. But they were right to do so. We don’t need an explanation. We all know who Spider-Man is. We all know there were multiple movies by different people about Spider-Man. The crossovers in No Way Home are remarkably confident in their presentation.
It’s Shocking How Easily We Accepted The Change
Taken one step broader, stories more and more seem to not bother with characters being overly surprised by magic, time travel, or superpowers. They take it as a given anyone living in the modern world could and would jive with something like that.
And they’re right. Modern movies have breakneck pacing automatically because the cinematic lexicon is so defined. We would be actively bored if they bothered beyond cursory moments. Both SHAZAM! and Ms. Marvel jump to “what are your powers?” rather than question their powers’ existence.
A Modern Franchise Relies On Shared Knowledge
And as I said before, this is a byproduct of all the remakes, prequels, sequels, and adaptations. They make so much money, and producers don’t want to stop. But people get bored if you make the same stories or use the same worlds long enough. No matter the CGI flashiness, there are only so many times we’ll watch Batman become Batman. So, the “solution” that isn’t making different, exciting movies that do new and amazing things with the artform is to get wild with what you already have.
Break the fourth wall and make fun of your properties. Expand into multiverses. Time travel and revisit old films. Skip important backstory to get to the latest cool set piece. Do everything you can to make rehashes still feel fresh. If you’re going to keep media in the same box, make that box the absolute most inviting and catering box to its occupants as possible.
Franchise Movies Bend Over Backwards For Fans
And don’t mistake this for complaining either. I like cool things—and franchise films are full of cool things. I like that Deadpool makes fun of the old X-Men movies. Having three Spider-Men converse about fighting aliens was transcendently nerdy. I also want unique, fantastic stuff. I want studios to take a chance on up-and-coming artists. But we’ve got all this interconnected text. We may as well enjoy it. We now live in a time where being nerdy, knowing media, and investing time and energy into learning obscure stuff is suddenly rewarded and actively encouraged. That’s enticing to someone like me. That’s a new evolution for media culture. It has and will continue to change everything.
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