The year was 1990. Mr Bean had just debuted on British television, the Royal New Zealand Navy discontinued its daily rum ration and the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its list of diseases. Oh, and Predator 2 was released. An average sequel, starring Danny Glover and everybody’s favourite Texan Bill Paxton, it bored critics and audiences alike up until the penultimate scene in which we see inside a predator ship and more specifically the predator’s trophy case. In the trophy case we see the skull of an alien, the alien in fact. That’s right, the skull of a Xenomorph from the Alien film series.
Now this appearance is most definitely not canon due to Xenomorphs not having skulls (they have exoskeletons like insects) but it was the first in a long crossover between the Predator and Alien franchises which culminated in the disappointing Alien vs Predator in 2004. This type of crossover seems to be increasing in the current film landscape with examples such as the upcoming Jump Street/Men in Black crossover and institutions are trying to turn all of their film properties, no matter how old and irrelevant, into franchises.
Just look at Ghostbusters. I enjoy the original film, in no way am I a huge fan of it like at lot of people on the internet claim to be, but the announcement of the new Ghostbusters franchise starting with the female team’s film directed by Paul Feig in 2016 and then continuing with a film featuring a male team and then a crossover of the two is disappointing news. I have nothing particularly against reboots/remakes in general and the male spinoff with Chris Pratt and Channing Tatum sounded kinda cool when Tatum described it as being like Batman Begins (although just last week he also described the Gambit movie as being like Batman Begins so it seems like Batman Begins is the only film he has ever seen). My problem is the fact that a franchise has already been planned out before the first film is released and so it’s not surprising at all when Paul Feig sited the Marvel Cinematic Universe as an inspiration.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic universe since the beginning when I saw Iron Man in the cinema at age 12. Since then I’ve marvelled (pun intended) at The Avengers and waded through the depressing pit of misery that made up the majority of the first season of Marvel’s Agents of Shield. It’s been a long road and with it continuing into the foreseeable future and beyond I have to say I’m looking forward to experiencing the future of the franchise. Back in phase 1 the MCU was described as being similar to the long running James Bond franchise but now it’s its own beast and that’s how it should stay. The MCU has a reason to be shared universe franchise because it’s the best way to adapt the comics on which it is based but now other film series are following this route after seeing the financial success even if it doesn’t make sense from a creative point of view.
Universal are aiming for all their movie monsters such as Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster to be in a shared universe similar to that of the MCU and have crossover movies. Back in the 1920’s all of these horror characters shared a universe but that was the first time something like that had ever taken place and it wowed audiences; the writers however didn’t know when to stop and quickly churned out so many films the series was soon relegated from the pinnacle of Hollywood to B movies. With audiences so used to shared universes I don’t think the new monsters cinematic universe will have anywhere near the same impact today and yet because of the MCU ruling the box office, the big wigs at universal believe that’s the way forward. I can’t wait for it to blow up in their faces and put an end to institutions copying the MCU.
A shared universe plan that has already failed is Sony’s Amazing Spiderman series. They also saw the unmatched success of the MCU and believed they could create a similar universe with just Spidey and his villains. Several films were planned out, given release dates and directors only for them to be put on hold, probably indefinitely, after two relatively crappy films. The Amazing Spiderman 2 failed partly due to the fact it was trying to set up a cinematic universe and that’s not what the audience wanted. We just want a genuinely good Spiderman film something we haven’t seen in over 10 years and now hopefully we will get just that when the character is rebooted yet again, this time in the MCU.
You may think of me as naive for thinking film studios should start films and franchises for creative reasons rather than commercial ones but I think it’s naive for studios to believe that they can create a franchise just as strong as the MCU with their own properties. Terminator is franchise that just isn’t being allowed to die. Terminator Salvation was supposed to be the start of a new trilogy but the plan didn’t work out due audiences and critics alike being utterly bored with the franchise and the fact it was directed by a person who calls himself McG. Never hire a person who calls themselves McG for any job let alone one which gives them creative freedom and the money to back it up. Now six years later Terminator is back with a confusing film which is simultaneously a sequel, prequel, inbetweenquel, reboot and a reimagining. The new film, called Terminator Genesis but spelt wrong, is also supposed to be the start in a new trilogy and with Arnie back and new blood Emilia Clarke and the exceptionally boring Jai Courtney maybe the film will be a success and another sequel, prequel, inbetweenquel, reboot, reimagining will be released soon after but the plan they have in place before Genesis is released will probably change in some way.
That’s why I like what George Miller is doing with Mad Max. Tom Hardy is contracted to portray Max four more times and after seeing the awesome action extravaganza Fury Road I definitely want to see four more Mad Max films. The ending to Fury Road doesn’t imply that a sequel is coming even though one is. Film studios shouldn’t announce that sequels are on the way and give out information on the release dates until the film is out and people are asking for it. That excites audience members more than them knowing the whole film slate for the next 10 years.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments and you can follow me on Twitter @kylebrrtt. I leave you now with the wise words of everybody’s favourite bearded Welsh person:
“Kyle Barratt’s growing a pair” – Gav Murphy IGN UK Podcast 281