Pop quiz, hotshot: which great science fantasy franchise is returning to the world in 2015 after many years of absence? Why, Mad Max, of course! George Miller’s post-apocalyptic series has returned to us, and it appears to be in better shape than ever. Critics and audiences appear to be in love with this movie, so it would seem like it’s time to take a good look at it. So get your driving wheel from the pile, spray your face so you can enter Valhalla, and come with us to see the lessons Star Wars could learn from Mad Max: Fury Road!
Stand by your franchise’s style
Desert wastelands. Ridiculous character names like Rictus Erectus or Toast the Knowing. Punk aesthetics and ridiculously souped-up vehicles. Extreme close ups before crashes. Low camera angles during chase scenes. These are the aesthetic choices Miller and Byron Kennedy applied to The Road Warrior back in 1981 and turned it into a global phenomenon. These are exactly the same choices Miller applied to Fury Road in 2015. And why wouldn’t he?
You don’t even need to see the main character driving his Pursuit Special to know you are watching a Mad Max movie: it’s obvious from the first minute that you are back to the universe you left thirty years before. The movie uses some CGI here and there, when practical effects just won’t do it, but it manages to feel as genuine and gritty as The Road Warrior felt. It goes without saying, but the same thinking could easily apply to Star Wars: there’s nothing wrong with Star Wars just as it is. We love the way it is, with its simple plotlines, its black and white characters, and its cheesy names. There’s no need to “bring Star Wars to the twenty-first century”. It’s still great! Don’t mess with it! » Read more..
Unlike Star Wars, there are numerous versions of Transformers and you don’t even have to factor in Michael Bay’s version! Marvel UK, Marvel US, Dreamwave, IDW – that’s four variants right there and there’s likely a few more still.
It is IDW’s reboot, started several years ago, with Simon Furman writing it, that has the most lessons to impart to Star Wars, if it but listens.
Furman’s arc re-imagined Transformers, with a multi-front galactic war being fought between the Autobots and Decepticons. No longer were they limited to Earth, no longer was it all set on one planet – though Earth did become a significant resource due to Shockwave’s age-old plotting. In this new structure both Megatron and Optimus Prime were generals, marshalling troops and resources on a galactic scale. Thus, when both take a hand in events on Earth, it is indeed A Big Deal™. » Read more..
For all Marvel’s recent success at the box office with its Cinematic Universe, its small-screen efforts have thus far been a mixed bag. Most people will agree that its first series, Agents of SHIELD (I refuse to put the periods in there), got a lot better once it caught up with the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but there’s no doubt that it struggled at first to define itself, lacking both the personality and—more forgivably given its budget—the grandeur of the Marvel films. Their second series, Agent Carter, has improved by leaps and bounds over SHIELD’s debut even as SHIELD itself in its second season has begun to bring much more life and excitement to its proceedings with an expanded and more-colorful cast freed to the bureaucratic doldrums of the series’ beginning. Later this year, Marvel’s television roster will have doubled with the arrival on Netflix of both Daredevil and AKA Jessica Jones, with three more series to follow further down the line—and all within the same contiguous universe as the films.
For Star Wars fans, Marvel is the ultimate guinea pig for the Age of Disney. What success Marvel has had at the box office Lucasfilm now seeks to reproduce with both a sequel trilogy and no doubt several standalone films, and with more options for small-screen, lower-budget productions than ever before, it stands to reason that they’re watching Marvel’s television operations with great interest. Here are some things I think they should keep in mind. » Read more..
Recently one of my authors, Carrie Vaughn announced the end of her main series. I call her ‘one of my authors’ because for the past 6 years I could always count on her to have a new book (or two) out each year. For someone who reads as much as I do this is important. Star Wars was winding down and not producing as much in the past and I have to have a book on me all the time. She’s an author that I’ve met and hung out with on several occasions over the years that I adore because she’s so personable and always forthcoming with the fans. For years she has said, “If you ever see the title Kitty Saves the World, that is the last book for my main character. So as an avid reader I’m sure you can all imagine my dismay at seeing her Facebook post a few weeks ago with the image of a new book with that title. One goes through various stages of grief all in an instant when one finds out a favorite series is ending. However, upon further reflection I heartily applaud Vaughn’s decision.
Carrie Vaughn is making a choice to end the story arc for her main character, a werewolf named Kitty. The supernatural world she created, though, is so much bigger than just the one character. So perhaps we will see books featuring other characters. She has already experimented with this and stated there is a big possibility for such books. She is doing what other authors who get bogged down with a certain set of characters should do. She is doing what Star Wars needs to do with this reboot. Another example of an author who knew when to walk away is Charlaine Harris whose books were the inspiration for True Blood. While I sometimes regret not being able to go to the bookstore and pick up the new Sookie Stackhouse book, part of me appreciates knowing there was an end for those characters. One could also look to J.K. Rowling who stopped at seven books for Harry Potter when she easily could’ve started next generation books with new bad wizards for the characters to fight (to be fair she still might do this.) I like having an end to a series. I didn’t realize how much I liked it until Vaughn’s recent announcement. » Read more..
Announced at the recent New York Comic Con, Secret Wars will be Marvel’s big 2015-16 event. Marvel have followed that up in over the last fortnight with a barrage of teasers for even more events for summer 2015. What does it all mean? For right now, two things are obvious: If you are on the inside of Marvel’s continuity and have been following it for a while, this will look like the most ambitious undertaking ever. If you are on the outside, having kicked the habit and stayed off the books in the main, it will look entirely incomprehensible!
So, what’s the problem with it? The problem with Secret Wars 2015 is it will be a line-wide event, now with an array of satellites, which appear to be specific to each group of titles, but also eras too. The problem is nothing gets to avoid it! The Ultimate books? It is going to cover those too! If you buy into the idea for the event, it sounds great, it sounds like something you want to read. If you do not buy into it? Too bad, you’re going to have to if you keep reading the books up to a certain point in 2015. That’s the problem. This is practically polarizing consumer interest into two directions – towards or away from Marvel’s entire line for a year or longer. (Plus, once you are out of touch with Marvel superheroes for that kind of duration, you may not hop back on-board.) » Read more..