Your Childhood Can’t be Retconned A long, long time ago (you know, the 70’s) George Lucas created an entire galaxy where audience’s imagination run rampant with possibilities and the hints of something larger than what was revealed on screen. Star Wars (later christened Episode IV: A New Hope) was a snapshot of a fantasy conflict set against the backdrop of science fiction which became a rallying call for fledging nerd culture It was an instant classic, a litmus test on playgrounds to see who was ‘cool’ and sent an entire genre into hyperdrive. Star Wars wasn’t the first property to build a universe with it’s own lore, backstory and fan-speculation, but it was the most popular. Many properties would follow this blueprint to world building. Three years later, Lucas teamed up with a new director with a new portion of the Star Wars saga was revealed in The Empire Strikes Back. The Force could generate telekinesis, Luke and Leia weren’t meant to be (despite his gallant efforts to save her) and there were people willing to work alongside the Empire despite being blatantly evil like a Saturday cartoon villain. Fans didn’t scream that their head-cannon was ruined, that Yoda belonged on the set of The Muppets instead of being a Jedi-master or that Obi-Wan was a lying jerk to Luke for hiding his father’s identity. Just like with Empire, Lucas (this time on his own…maybe an important distinction) provided additional insight into the Star Wars universe with the prequel trilogy. The Force was generated by bacteria, Anakin became evil because he had a bad dream and for the most part everyone cheered when the Empire was created, except for some radical Jedis and the representative from Alderran (don’t worry he’ll get his). This time, the collective fanbase was enraged with hatred at the inclusion of comedic relief Jar-Jar, mopey portrayal of sand-hating-Anakin plus the complete destruction of anything that made Boba Fett interesting. The difference – The Empire Strikes Back was good, but the prequels were not. Quality matters more than the source material, which can be a catapult to success or crutch depending on the creators. Audiences don’t care about the universe, they just want a great entertaining story. (Fanboys obviously care about the universe). Anyone involved in a revitalization of a series is a fan (it’s easy to lose sight of this). When Crystal Skull was made, it wasn’t to intentionally murky the legacy of Indiana Jones, it was a project generated by people who loved the series, wished it for it to continue and wanted to share that passion with others (they just missed the mark by a swinging monkey or two). Even after the hated prequels (I refuse to allow them the honor of a capital letter) fans are excited beyond all expectations for Episode VII: The Force Awakens. There is a perceived value of quality with JJ Abrams at the helm that resonates with viewers. He already successfully revitalized one sci-fi series, surely he can do it once more. Speaking of Star Trek, this series is a perfect example of quality being more important than the simple cash grab of continuing the universe. Next Generation is arguably the best of the franchise and today no one cries out that it was derivative, unnecessary and plagiarizing off the good name of the Kirk-era of sci-fi. Maybe people did when it released but that was pre-Internet so it barely even counts. Star Trek: Enterprise was pulled off the air quickly, because it didn’t live up to the legacy created beforehand and was so bad that no other television Star Trek, the more appropriate home for that IP, has been attempted. Yes, there are bad series that live off the momentum and fanbase of those who loved the original. But they still perish and are forgotten. They don’t hinder the enjoyment of what came beforehand and prove that audiences want entertainment that is worthwhile more than just familiar set-pieces and easter eggs. Hollywood will continue to greenlight Full-er House, X-Files 2.0, Ghostbuster reboots, Jurassic World tie-ins and as many comic book adaptations as long as viewers continue to support the product. And audiences will only care as long as it remains a high quality and enjoyable experience; there is a reason why the Spider-Man universe is being rebooted after the terrible showing that was ASM2 and why SM3 ended the Raimi interpretation of the character. The reason for the constant recycling of properties is simple economics, movies are expensive and risky. Instead of taking the risk to create a brand new movie with explosions, car chases and punk-rock characters George Miller and Hollywood made Mad Max: Fury Road. Did this movie have to be a Mad Max entry to tell the story they did. Nope. Did it create a pre-installed fan-base and cache with viewers. Absolutely. It is up to the creators to determine if that starting block will be a boost or a tripping point, not for fans to claim everything is sacred and shouldn’t be built upon the good work from before. Instead of condemning properties for continuing the series, analysts (armchair and professional) should review each release based upon its own merit. The casual audience, which makes up most of the viewing population (and almost none of the Internet commentary echo-chamber population) will judge if the property is worth continuing or should be abandoned. Studios will react to sales far more than reviewers verbal eyerolls. Worse case scenario you can just write it off as professional fan-fiction and just hold on to your favorite when debating the merits of the universe you love (just like Disney did when they blinked out years of Expanded Universe lore). No matter what comes next, the enjoyment you experienced with the first, second or third release can’t be ruined by another installment. Just take the next adventure at face value and enjoy it for what it is, and not what you hoped it could be or think it should be. Level Up, Friends!