When it comes to writing about Marvel and Star Wars, and other movie universes, know that I’m a big fan of them. I find them creative and inspiring. But even I realise there needs to be an end in sight.
And right now, especially with Marvel, Star Wars, and D.C. there seems to be no end in sight. Well there might be one for D.C. if they keep going in the direction they’re going.
But having a movie universe that could potentially go on forever seems like a sweet thing at first, right?
I want as many Star Wars films to come out as possible. I get really excited when I hear of the different anthology series coming out, like the new Han Solo movie, or the possible Obi-Wan movie with Ewan McGregor possibly coming back.
But then I started thinking. And in my thinking I realised there were a few problems with universe building. Here I pick on the biggest movie universes: Star Wars, Marvel, and D.C.
Would the real stand alone films please stand up
The first problem is there are fewer good stand-alone films in movie universes. Marvel and D.C. are both guilty of this one.
Now, I understand that there will be a connection between the movies, an overarching theme, if you will. But watching some of the movies these two companies produce, I can’t help but think some of them are only made to set up a bigger movie coming later.
I’ll give Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Batman v. Superman as examples. Age of Ultron seems mostly like a setup for the later film Captain America: Civil War, and Batman v Superman seems like a setup for the Justice League. Both movies are fairly good. Actually scratch that. Age of Ultron was pretty good. But you get the point. Both are prime examples of stories becoming fodder for a bigger picture instead of standing alone as masterpieces in their own right.
When Christopher Nolan created the Dark Knight Trilogy, he wanted each movie to stand on it’s own. And he was able to accomplish just that. When he started filming Batman Begins he didn’t intend for there to be a trilogy. And that trilogy has been the best in recent memory. For the very reason that each movie has compelling characters, thrilling plots, wonderful villains, and being whole, well-rounded films, not simply there for a greater narrative.
Now I’m not saying Marvel or D.C. forget stand alone movies all the time, but that it sometimes happens within movie universes. With an end to this structure of filmmaking, that is, mega movie universes, we can begin to see again great films that can stand up for themselves and aren’t just fodder for a larger narrative.
Good worlds are twisted
The second problem is there’s potential they twist what you love into something you don’t. What I mean is perfectly captured in the Star Wars prequels. I like the prequels and I know there’s a lot of people who don’t.
But even I can see Lucas took something that was universally loved and extended it into something almost universally disliked.
Now with a Star Wars movie coming out every single year it’s easy to see how it can turn into a slippery slope of taking something we love and expanding on it, making it something we start to dislike. D.C. is great at this.
In their attempts to keep up with Marvel they’ve made some fans truly upset with the low quality of films being made. Low quality in the storytelling and other aspects. Recent D.C. films aren’t absolutely horrible, but they are far from excellent.
When you keep making movie after movie, all of them continuing a story, the chances of turning the franchise into something not that great increases. This is one of the reasons I think Marvel makes safe movies. The movies they make aren’t exceptional, but aren’t bad either. That’s the thing with D.C., they take risks with their films and those risks simply haven’t paid off very well, showing what can happen when you’re making movies to make money. Speaking of which.
It’s not about the money
The third reason why movie universes should end is because it becomes all about the money and less about the storytelling: you know, the reason films exist in the first place.
Everything becomes more about making money. And when that happens, fundamental elements can quickly dissolve. D.C. followed the trend that Marvel set in creating an all-encompassing universe. And unfortunately it’s turned into how much money one can generate without expressing a truthful idea or character arc.
I don’t want to sound like I think most of the films Marvel, D.C. or Star Wars are bad. I enjoy them probably more than most. But with these no-end in sight universes, these problems become prevalent.
Conclusion: all good things (need to) come to an end
I think we should go back to the good ol’ days when movies and trilogies had a beginning, middle and end. Where the end was the end. Not this “no end in sight” feel, but a definite sense of closure.
Great movies have great endings, whether they were happy or not didn’t even matter. Think of Inception. Another great film by Nolan. It has an extremely complicated narrative, yet it still has a solid ending, even though the audience is left with questions.
The film doesn’t need a sequel. It shines bright on its own.
I say let’s stick with the formula that works for popular movies like Inception. One that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. These massive universes that have been constructed are amazing in a lot of ways, but there needs to be closure.