Thursday, December 12, 2013

"Nothing ever ends."

Simon Kinberg and his Genre Films banner have signed a new three-year first-look deal at 20th Century Fox. Kinberg is heavily involved with next summer's X-Men: Days of Future Past and the studio's upcoming Fantastic Four reboot as both writer and producer. The new deal will allow him to expand those franchises into full-blown universes, with the hope of creating for Fox something akin to the Marvel model of interlocking movies. 
"I have a lot of ideas on how to built those brands and do what everybody is thinking of these days: Be like Marvel," Kinberg tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I want to be able to build stories over multiple movies."
I first started reading comic books around the time that crossovers began to take off. At the time I didn't question it, and besides, comics were cheaper then (50-60 cents), so I could afford to buy a bunch of them all at once every week. In the early 80s, Marvel had a mini-series called Secret Wars, which starred the major heroes and villains and instituted "major" (at the time) changes, so if you wanted to know how such-and-such and so-and-so happened, you had to read the mini-series to find out. At DC you had Crisis on Infinite Earths and the same principle applied, though I didn't read DC back then.

But then crossovers became commonplace, first in the X-Men titles and then the Spider-Man titles and so on and so forth. After Superman "died," there was a big long arc about his funeral, and then there was an even longer arc involving the "replacement" Supermen that lost me completely after awhile. I got tired of trying to figure out which story comes after which and who was where doing what, so I dropped it. Over time, this trend expanded into other media, like television and books, and I went through the same cycle: liked it at first, grew tired of it after awhile, dropped it.

I still wanna see this though.
And now look where we are: the Marvel movie model of crossovers is catching on elsewhere (I should've seen this coming, I really should have), and once again, I find myself going through the same cycle: liked it at first, have grown tired of it, now dropping it. It used to be that arcs were the exception rather than the rule: Empire leading into Jedi was mind-blowing at the time, as was Wrath of Khan leading into Search For Spock and The Voyage Home. Most of the time a sequel meant a brand new story with the same characters, but not anymore - and I totally understand the appeal. I really do. 

But you know, not everything has to be an ongoing, serialized mega-story. There's value in doing a "one-and-done." When I took part in NaNoWriMo last month, I saw lots of writers who claimed their work-in-progress was one in a series, because, y'know, ongoing series are the way to go in books now, especially genre books. Some people claimed to have plans for as many as four or five books in their series, and I would look at them and wonder, well, that's great and all, but shouldn't you worry about getting this one book done first before you plan your Tolkien-like epic? As I have learned, and am learning, writing a single novel is hard enough on its own without planning a whole bunch of them - especially when you have no guarantee that your first book will sell well enough to justify sequels.

With genre movies, though, it's different, particularly those that are made from pre-existing source material, like comics and young adult novels. They have built-in audiences who will lap these movies up regardless of quality (though, to be fair, the quality has been decent overall - so far). As a kid, I would've freaked out at the prospect of an ongoing series of movies based on Marvel comics with continuing stories. I would've thought it was pure heaven. However, like the kid who loves ice cream and pigs out on gallons of the stuff all at once, there can be too much of a good thing, especially when these movies come out on a regular basis every year.

So the more I think about it, the more I think my genre movie burnout has as much to do with fatigue as with apathy (though that's definitely a big part too). I see now, as I write this out, that this is a cycle that I've gone through in the past, and while I did enjoy Avengers, and I may see the second movie when it comes out, as well as this new Fantastic Four movie (because they've always been my favorite super-team), I find it harder and harder to justify investing in ongoing arcs anymore, even if the rest of Fandom Assembled is loving it. It's too much for me.

Thoughts? (A cookie if you know where this post's title comes from.)

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