Comic Book Brain

The plague of the 'alternative universe' fix-all

Canon-madness haunts the modern comic book and the superhero movies

Over-engineering (among other things) crashed the Star Wars franchise, and has constantly plagued the Warner projects, and now instead of a MCU-like cohesion, Warner's has a system of spinning off anything that "doesn't fit" into its own separate universe ("alternative universe" has become an all encompassing fix-all instead of a simple bit of fun with a "what if?" story line).

"Canon" is becoming a scourge-word against quality and the fertilizer for confusion reminiscent of the old word used in comic collecting, "continuity," which plagued writers and artists and the hard-core fans. But it didn't bother the fandom/mainstream readers as a whole who didn't have the same investment into making all the disparate story lines from various writers fit together. One point worth making is that the latter was a larger, and easier to live with phenomenon than the former, whether as an industry or as a reader.



But now the studios, publishers (and I guess the majority of fans, too) need the films and comics to fit together perfectly like scripture. Its as if the casual fan is being made extinct and scheduled to be replaced with the religiously-dedicated fan who has not only a financial stake in the proceedings (as a 'collector'), but an emotional and mental stake, too.

But how can this work and still be any fun? There are too many creators involved to make it fit seamlessly without the heavy hand of editors constantly interfering. Its as if the modern writers of these gigantic character "IPs" are being converted into scribes and theologians instead of being creative artists.

Because financial earnings are such an important part of the equation, the only way to work out the logic of this obsessive approach to canon (as if that is part of what is being offered as a product) is to cut off ("de-canonize") pieces of the character's history that no longer fits, or is not compatible with "corporate values." Is this obvious sleight-of-hand supposed to work the way the Neuralyzer held by Will Smith in Men in Black worked? I don't see how. The vast fanbase of movie watchers and the smaller world of comic book readers aren't going to just forget the old storylines, origins and character traits, and the shifting cleaning-up of "canon" just adds to the confusion.

...the fallout from Joss Whedon’s theatrical dud saw the studio’s subsequent movies put less and less emphasis on the connective tissue, and now the Snyder Cut of Justice League has muddled things even further. Fans accept the HBO Max exclusive as official canon, but Warner Bros. doesn’t, while Joker and The Batman exist in separate realities of their own.

From a story at Wegotthiscovered



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Original page April 8, 2021