Frederik vs the Franchises: To Oldly Go When Many Have Gone Before

When discussing Star Trek, it’s almost become an obligation to affix a bright red asterisk to Gene Roddenberry’s name. Because, you see, the Great Bird of the Galaxy wasn’t so much a cosmic being as he was a prisoner of gravity – and, if you believe his detractors, a marketing construct. The “corrective” portrait that’s emerged in the years since his death – notably through books like Joel Engel’s Gene Roddenberry: the Myth and the Man Behind Star Trek and the documentary Chaos on the Bridge – is sometimes tragic, sometimes hostile, mostly unflattering, and all too human. It’s a tale of his need to control Star Trek, his clash with dissenters, and tendency to take credit for other people’s ideas, which not only resulted in head-on collisions with studios but also alienated his friends and allies. The “real” history of Star Trek’s creation, if we can say there’s such a thing, casts doubt on Roddenberry’s visionary authorship of its mythos and the narrative that Star Trek was a ship of peers guided by a singularly capable captain. In space, it seems, no one can hear a scream. But the sound of an idol being shattered comes through the vacuum loud and clear.

Whatever the behind-the-scenes truth is, Roddenberry might have tripped over himself when it came to realizing his vision, but I’d argue that Star Trek is significantly diminished without his influence.

Today’s Star Trek is very much the product of a committee, a patchwork whole shaped by diverse and not necessarily compatible perspectives, creative conflicts, compromises and, yes, cash grabs. While the glut of spinoffs and the prospect of a fourth Kelvin-timeline movie indicate a period of thriving creativity, the symptoms suggest to me a case of franchitis that obscures the fact that, despite polished productions and occasional flashes of brilliance, Star Trek has become a mediocrity whose ambitions were jettisoned along with the Great Bird’s space-borne ashes.

There are two moments that, to my mind, mark Star Trek's decline. The first comes from Deep Space Nine, when showrunner Ira Steven Behr reasoned that the nobility of the Federation was only possible with the support of a ruthless and amoral secret security apparatus. Apparently inspired by a line of dialogue for Commander Benjamin Siskso from DS9 episode "The Maquis" – "It's easy to be a saint in paradise" – Behr mused in the 1999 reference companion to the series, "Why is Earth a paradise in the twenty-fourth century? Well, maybe it's because there's someone watching over it and doing the nasty stuff that no one wants to think about." He expressed an interest of exploring what life was really like for those living the fictional 24th century, saying "Is it this paradise, or are there, as Harold Pinter said, 'Weasels under the coffee table'." With that decision Star Trek’s fundamental outlook shifted from aspirational to cynical. Since then, not only has the malignant Section 31 and the moral calculus used to justify its existence become entrenched in current continuity (both Prime and Kelvin), we’ve also been given a militaristic, realpolitik Federation that seriously contemplates genocide (Discovery Season 1, DS9’s Dominion War seasons) and succumbs to xenophobia and resentment (Star Trek VI, Picard Season 1). And that’s before we even get to discussing how contemporary showrunners repeatedly portray the Federation as inept – scientifically, judicially and defensively – and, all too often, an ideal just outside the characters’ reach. Discovery’s come-to-Gene moment in season 3 was a nice gesture, but rather Pyrrhic given the franchise context.

The second moment comes with the release of Star Trek II: the Wrath of Kahn, which marked a significant course correction for Star Trek movies after The Motion Picture’s lackluster response. Its success established a move toward conventional action movie storytelling rooted in a conflict between heroes and villains typically resolved through violence. Hence: Voyager’s crew fought TNG’s Borg, Enterprise had its temporal cold war, Discovery’s seasonal rotation of villains included Klingons, the Mirror Universe, malevolent AI, and the Orion Syndicate. Picard’s first season also involved hostile AI, and the Kelvin timeline movies each had their own Big Bad for the good guys to fight. Only Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home bucks the trend with its heartfelt environmentalist cautionary tale, delivered with a good humor that’s generally lacking in the newer films and series. The fact that fandom has embraced this course correction is evidenced not only by the box office and television ratings, but through the current crop of games (e.g. Star Trek Fleet Command and Star Trek Timelines) that trumpet the opportunities to engage in space battles.

Underlying these two influences is the successful overturning of Roddenberry’s injunction against interpersonal conflicts between crew members, which further contributes to Star Trek’s devolution into conventional storytelling modes not all that different from Firefly, Dark Matter, or other gritty SF series. Picard exemplifies how UnRoddenberries finally got their wish with a crew of liars, murderers, drug addicts, and PTSD-sufferers, all working for a captain the showrunners present, intentionally or not, as out-of-synch with his peers in a narrative that undermines his values. (For example, the resolution of season 1 doesn’t emerge from moral insight and diplomatic skill, but the wielding of force.)

The thing is, it isn’t hard to discern Roddenberry’s distinct vision for Star Trek, especially considering that he elsewhere conceived alien invasion and space opera series that were posthumously developed in, respectively, Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda. When given the opportunity to revive the original series in the late 1970s, the result – after many development twists and turns – was Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a high-concept film obviously inspired by icons like 2001: A Space Odyssey. It apparently wasn’t what critics or fans wanted to see, however, which was more visceral, action-oriented storytelling than TMP’s more cerebral approach. For my part, however much it puts me in the minority, the film’s humanistic design aesthetic, artsy cinematic vision, and rejection of action movie conventions are bold gestures in service of a premise that is actually science fiction – the very reasons why TMP stands out as my favourite Star Trek movie along with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. While we can debate the film’s strengths and shortcomings, TMP clearly lays a defined course for Star Trek that looks beyond reflecting humanity’s 20th and 21st century failings to focus instead on the next stage in our civilization’s evolution.

While the movies more or less sidelined Roddenberry as Paramount charted a new course, his efforts in television with The Next Generation provides further evidence of the vision he was striving to realize against a current of opposing, or at least unsympathetic, creative forces. Representing a manifesto of sorts for the series, the first episode credited to D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry, “Encounter at Farpoint,” centers on the Enterprise’s crew solving a diplomatic mystery not with a brawl, but with empathy and science. And in the process, they prove their worthiness as galactic good citizens to the omnipotent and judgmental Q. While we could nitpick at how well the episode juggles its multiple goals of telling an SF story while introducing new characters, a new ship, and updated world-building, the episode nevertheless expresses the very ideals underlying the series that would find further expressions in episodes like “Inner Light,” widely considered one of the series’ best.

Broadly, the shift away from Roddenberry marked a shift in Star Trek’s fundamental genre from high-concept science fiction of the kind you’d find in literary SF to the action thrillers that Hollywood churns out in between outpours of superheroics and horror. The impression to me is of a franchise that not only lacks the skill to deliver on the challenges of science fiction – a particularly difficult genre because it involves both crafting stories with compelling characters and drama as well as the ability to speculate about science rooted in an understanding of actual science – but a lack of interest. How else to explain the relentless repetition of plots centered on the Mirror Universe, Federation corruption, planetary destruction, war, time travel, and the tiresome Borg, who are to Star Trek what the equally one-dimensional Daleks are to Doctor Who? How else to account for the jagged, disjointed history attempting to link together the various series? And forget about embracing the socialist implications of the Federation, because Hollywood’s fealty is to capitalism.

It makes no sense, for example, that the Romulans in Picard would be ghettoized and impoverished in a universe in which material needs can be easily satisfied with the help of technologies such as replicators, clean and plentiful energy generator, robots, and so on. Similarly, it makes no sense for Federation medicine to be unable to repair the defect in Picard’s parietal lobe, and the resulting terminal illness, given nanotechnologies, genetic technologies and the capability to break people down at a subatomic level and reassemble them (transporters). But today’s Star Trek is rarely interested in science fiction as anything other than a mood and aesthetic, and the franchise’s technology is not the concrete foundation on which stories are built but rather malleable devices that are adjusted to serve whatever the writers happen to need for their storytelling goals. So if they need to inflict an uncurable disease on Picard, confine Data’s mind to a box, make Section 31 especially formidable, or portray the Federation as a racist bureaucracy with disparate economic classes, then that’s what we get even if it means sacrificing consistency – and the ambition for speculation – withing established sciences and technologies. Worse is how showrunners regularly sacrifice fruitful science fictional plotlines in favor of action thriller story beats. Picard’s Season 1 provides a particularly egregious example of this when it literally kills off all the characters involved in the show’s most intriguing idea: a project to help the victims of Borg assimilation rebuild their mental and physical health so that they might eventually return to their home societies, many of which have themselves not healed from the trauma of Borg attacks. An SF medical drama? Now there’s an idea for a Star Trek series! But as it stands, we have been given over the years generally middling series that, despite occasional displays of inspiration, don’t measure up to their ambitions (e.g. Enterprise, Voyager). Even in light of my reading of it’s Season 2 synopsis, I can’t shake the feeling that Picard is, essentially, oldly going where many have gone before. Or at the least, arriving very, very late.

If Star Trek’s Powers That Be were genuinely passionate about, and committed to, science fiction in general and Roddenberry’s vision in particular, than the answer to Ira Behr Stevens’ question would be obvious: speculate on a better future through more than just technology, engineering, physics, and medicine. A common blind spot in popular science fiction, sciences such as psychology and sociology, as well as arts, the humanities and political science, are frequently glossed over, if not outright ignored. In a society with the technology to eliminate material needs, what role do psychology and sociology play in promoting harmony? How has humanity’s practice of politics evolved to leverage advances in psychology and sociology to create harmonious social structures? Can ship crews organize themselves better than the traditional military-inspired hierarchies? What would xenoarchaeology look like? There are certainly precedents in literary SF of speculations beyond the conventional disciplines, Isaac Asimov’s psychohistory being a notable example. Which means there’s a wealth of untapped potential Star Trek showrunners could draw on to support an optimistic vision of the Federation, if they were so inclined. In a sense, it’s almost as the showrunners are afraid of leaning too far into the implied socialism of future Earth and the Federation lest they betray their aim to appeal to the broadest audience possible.

Even Star Trek’s much-vaunted humanistic values are curiously behind the times and conventional by speculative SF standards. As much as I welcome the inclusion of a romantic gay couple in Discovery from the beginning, and trans characters in Season 3, the gesture feels belated and just a bit self-congratulatory. Decades after the Original Series broke ground with an interracial kiss on TV, an admittedly problematic statement given the specifics of the scene, it’s sad to think how long it took the franchise to fulfil its promise of “infinite diversity in infinite combinations.” Better late than never, I suppose, but these gestures might not come across as so contrived if they expressed a well-thought-out universe beyond gadgets.

Perhaps the Star Trek I want and, I believe, Gene Roddenberry wanted, the one that boldly goes where no one has gone before, would have a much more limited appeal. So what? I’d rather have less but higher caliber Star Trek than a buffet that sacrifices its ambitions for low-hanging entertainment. And I don’t buy the argument that there’s a Star Trek for everyone with the various series currently on air and in the works (i.e. from the more comedic Lower Decks to forthcoming fair like a Michelle Yeoh-starring Section 31 series). By definition, a vision that molds itself to whatever people want to buy is a vision that lacks integrity, even after accounting for some creative flexibility. Star Trek should be Star Trek.

So beam me up, Scottie. Let’s see what else is out there.


Frederik vs the Franchises: No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Die ... and Stay Dead

By several accounts from media sources wondering where the Bond machine will go following the decisive end to Craig’s run with No Time To Die, producers Barbara Broccoli and Martin G. Wilson are themselves unsure of what to do next. Which is funny, because they already had established a clear direction for Bond with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (a tonal shift already attempted with the Dalton-era films), than squandered it by devolving Bond to what made the franchise overall outdated and somewhat, at times entirely, ridiculous.

I appreciate that the Craig-era films presented a character arc for Bond, from origin to terminus, and readily acknowledge Casino Royale as one of the franchise’s best offerings. But I’m mystified at the critical (and popular) acclaim for a series with diminishing returns – B-grade films whose undeniably slick production values are paired with scripts ranging from mediocre to downright awful, despite occasional moments of surprising psychological nuance. For my money, the downward slide didn’t start with Quantum of Solace, a film I enjoyed irrespective of shortcomings I might agree with on a more critical rewatch. Like Casino Royale, QoS offered a grounded plot and a plausible mission with real-world parallets for Bond to undertake. Skyfall, or Downfall as I tend to think of it, marked the return to everything annoying about the franchise, starting with indestructible superhero Bond against flamboyant and implausibly omniscient supervillainy. Sure, the film gave us more a more fleshed out Bond biography than we’ve typically been given, but that doesn’t excuse the regression. If Craig’s Bond was getting too “woke” for some fans, Skyfall addressed the concern by killing off Judi Dench’s M to replace her with white guy Ralph Fiennes and putting field agent Miss Moneypenny on administrative duty behind a desk, which is right where we started when Connery inhabited the role. Craig’s Bond was not a superhero in a key aspect, however; while he does kill the villain, Javier Bardem’s Silva, he fails in arguably his more important task of saving M’s life. Killing off M isn’t the problem, but rather the timing – how much more interesting if this was the start of a mission, not the expression of a Pyrrhic victory?

Spectre was less enthusiastically received, garnering a 63% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes compared to Skyfall’s 92%. In my case, it was barely received at all. I know that I watched it, but don’t remember anything about it other than how annoyingly miscast Christoph Waltz was as Blofeld and how irritated I was that the classic villain was reinvented with a personal connection to Bond. Establishing a trend from Skyfall, it was no longer enough to send Bond on secret missions in the UK’s foreign policy and security interests, or at least to save the world from megalomaniacs. It had to be personal. At any rate, it’s from this great “meh” that the series concludes with one of the worst Bond films in the entire franchise in my view, No Time to Die. We could dwell on any number of failings ­– Rami Malek’s bafflingly incoherent villain, Blofeld’s annoying return that overdraws, and then overdraws some more, on Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, the disappointing underuse of the kick-ass women characters played by Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch, or the sci-fi bent that by all rights should flag the film as borderline camp the way an invisible car did for Die Another Day.

But great googly-moogly, the film’s cardinal sin is worse than Spectre’s lack of memorability: No Time to Die is memorably boring. My mind was ready to check out at the first action set piece, an uninspired vehicular chase that ends with Bond in his Aston Martin, surrounded on all sides, who predictably escapes by pushing a few buttons to go-go-gadget the car’s weapons and shoot his way out. The subsequent chases make O.J. Simpson’s famous run from the law seem like an outtake from The Fast & The Furious by comparison, but it’s that early scene in the film that detached me from the film and emphasized how contrived the whole affair had become. By the end, taking stock of Craig’s run on Bond, the realization is that the series successfully re-characterized Bond as irredeemingly tragic, a blunt instrument who is marginally successful at saving the world from bloated plots but whose personal life, and personality, is defined by failure. Craig’s Bond is perpetually stuck in the past – after all these years, Vesper still holds her hand on his heart no matter how decompose – and emotionally incapable of resisting manipulation. This point is emphasized when he confronts Blofeld, who effortlessly plays him like the stringed instrument he is. The conversation doesn’t end with Bond achieving a moral victory over his mortal enemy, but with Blofeld unwittingly killed by bad science fiction before anything dramatically satisfying can happen.

Surely Bond’s death is meaningful, though? A poignant moment punctuating the distinctly deep pathos infusing the Craig-era films? I’ll agree that killing off Bond was a bold choice. But I see it less as an act of heroism than an act of suicide for a broken character, a narrative outcome that owes more to the will of the produces than to inexorable narrative logic. The film’s invisible car – I mean, killer nanotechnology – functions not out of science but out of screenwriting contrivance, which makes No Time To Die’s entire ending feel manipulative. Q could just as easily have devised a cure than not; that he doesn’t is purely a creative decision. My last thought on this is a question: I wonder if killing off Bond really was the boldest choice the screenwriters could have made. Given the surprise revelation that Bond has a daughter, wouldn’t it be more subversive to have one of cinema’s original macho international men of mystery retire – for real, this time – as a family man?

Frankly, I don’t much care what happens next with the Bond franchise. Perhaps if someone really cared about my opinion I’d suggest returning to a 60s setting, ditching the bad sci fi, putting Bond in moral jeopardy within the tension of his imperialist masters’ agendas, and adopting a skeptical perspective regarding the real-world consequences of plausible missions. But the Craig-era films aren’t the first time Bond producers had the opportunity to pursue a new direction only to reverse course. The previous time was with the Dalton-era films, criticized at the time for the more serious portrayal of a Bond shorn of the excess womanizing tendencies and overall flippancy. With gritter, more realistic plots involving cold war rivalries, arms dealing, drug cartels, and the like, Dalton’s films were a clear course-correction from the excesses of the Roger Moore-era. The new direction didn’t take, of course, and while Goldeneye (one of the franchise’s best) ushered in the Pierce Brosnan era with some restraint, the subsequent films became increasingly fanciful until producers pushed the reset button with Craig.

My indifference to Bond’s future stems largely from an indifference, or least a strong ambivalence, about its past, beginning with the portrayals by various actors. Obviously, I’m not convinced by Craig’s morose, tortured, tragic, unglamourous Bond, however well he plays the part. Although I prefer him as the Saint, Roger Moore is a most charming gentleman and his films have a certain appeal, however close they come to self-parody, precisely because he is so likable. (It’s all the more unfortunate, then, that his last turn as Bond in A View to Kill exploited his charm and his era’s overall light touch to sanitize appalling violence that, in the hands of a director today, would equal the savagery of any hard-R horror film.) Connery and his films benefit from being first, and thus the standard by which later films are measured against. But I was never quite enamored by Connery’s brute in a suit as many fans are, and the misogyny and uncritical imperialism mark his era of films as dated and objectionable products of their time that tarnish the luster of even otherwise entertaining films like Goldfinger. I have nothing to say about Lazenby, which in itself is saying something. Of all the actors playing Bond, Pierce Brosnan’s is the only one that, to my mind, checks all the boxes if the marks you’re looking for include a heroic character (i.e. a character who unequivocally defeats the bad guys) with charm, style, and a twinkle in his eye as well as an undercurrent of pathos more than hinting at the personal toll Bond’s work exacts. How many drinks, indeed, does it take to silence the screams of all the men, and women, he’s killed? That said, my favorite Bond, insofar as I find it meaningful to have a favorite, is Timothy Dalton. His portrayal of Bond, particularly in the context of plots just as grounded as Casino Royale’s, strikes me as the most credible.

Despite all that, I’m generally of the same mind as Esquire’s Stephen Marche, although perhaps a bit more willing than he is to find some entertainment value in the films here and there. The films strike me as B-movies – entertaining to varying degrees but ultimately not exceptional. Going forward, it’s unclear how Bond can continue to make a case for relevance when so many other franchises  - Mission: Impossible, the Bourne films, the Fast & the Furious – offer better action stories, better action, and characters who don’t need constant renovation to be relevant to modern audiences. But the situation is a bit more grim than that: even looking back to the Connery-era’s contemporaries, we can find superior espionage fare. Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer films, based on the books by Len Deighton, for example. Or, in television, Danger Man / Secret Agent, whose character played by Patrick McGoohan, John Drake, is by far the superior spy in a series notable for its realistically, often morally compromised stories. Not only is Drake more resourceful and intelligent than Bond, he too can hold his own in a fight – and is notable for shunning the use of weapons unless absolutely necessary. Beyond that, do I need to mention Le Carré?

Perhaps the best course of action is to let Bond die in peace, assured of his place as a pop-culture icon for better or worse. But if he does return as the credits promise at the end of No Time To Die, it’s not me who’ll break open the gin for a celebratory martini.


Frederik vs the Franchises: Introduction

The box office may not show symptoms of fatigue for any given film franchise, but I sure am tired of all those vampires sucking the life out of popular culture (e.g. genre websites devoting so much coverage to Star Wars and the MCU/DCEU you’d swear nothing else exists). Franchises are a common topic in the entertainment press, of course, with sequels the frequent object of pity for failing to recapture the lightning that sparked in their progenitors. Yet franchise sequels we get, as long as the studios make a reasonable return on their investments.

Not all franchises are equal in ambition, however. Some are content to be film series, while others aspire to transmedia sprawl and iconic cultural status. Both levels of ambition are prone to diminishing returns with each sequel or spin-off in my view; the greater the quantity, the greater the chances of mediocrity. Personally, I think we’d be better off if crowdfunding was the dominant business model for filmmaking: rather that studios spending marketing dollars trying to manipulate us into seeing their latest mediocrity, only filmmakers with the visions and skills to persuade audience to give money to their efforts get to see their films realized. But that’s not reality. Given the often-exorbitant upfront costs of movie production for studios and the nature of our economy, it’s impossible to fully sever the profit motive from the artistic drive, so I understand why studios – businesses, fundamentally – reflexively turn to proven commodities such as successful films, best-selling books, classic films from the past, dormant franchises, popular characters from past works, and appeals to nostalgia as fuel to keep the box office fires burning.

To be fair, the current business model does produce some excellent films with artistic merit. Nevertheless, I don’t think that’s typical of films produced through a franchise model, and I’d level two general critiques to the franchising impulse.

Franchises inhibit rather than enhance individual artistic visions and authorship.

The reason is rather simple: it isn’t filmmakers who (own the intellectual property rights of their creations, but studios. I’m not only referring to the famous impact of market-driven studio interference on a director’s vision, resulting in critical panning and/or audience rejection (e.g. David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, the DCEU’s Justice League). I’m also referring to how one set of filmmakers on a franchise (including the original creators) are often replaced by others whose visions conflict, or at least don’t align, with their predecessors. Star Wars, Star Trek, the MCU, the DCEU, and Terminator are obvious examples. With so many different visions in play, franchises become saturated by retcons, reboots, and endless variations that serve to undermine the efforts of individual artists. What’s the value in crafting a poignant character arc or proposing an imaginative story concept when their outcomes can be revised, reversed or utterly ignored with subsequent franchise entries?

Franchises can lose their integrity even when they aren’t cobbled together by a multitude of creatives; the original creators themselves can undermine their creations when studios, market conditions, fandom, and/or personal motivations pressure them to revisit their work, especially after a lot of time has passed.

Franchises reduce fans to consumers.

The impact of a franchise isn’t only on the creative professionals who contribute their considerable talents to money-making projects for studios, but on the fans themselves. This may seem paradoxical, in that “successful” franchises clearly have excited fanbases (to varying degrees) who willingly spend money on the latest offerings, cosplay at conferences, and rev the social media buzz engine. That hardly seems like a bad thing, right? But as a certain Admiral might say, it’s a trap.

Broadly, the problem is one of volume: so much material is produced that it’s daunting for fans to keep up and for non-fans to find a way in, resulting in a struggle to savor past offerings while keeping up with the latest product. At some point, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we end up having to accept mediocrity; “good enough” but disposable entertainment typically consumed once than left behind for the next new product. We also end up boxed in – the more we commit to a franchise as it sprawls out, the harder it becomes to enjoy other franchises or - <gasp> - creative stories that aren’t franchises. There’s only so much time, after all. Good luck to you if you’re a completionist!

The impact on fandom can be more insidious than issues of money and time commitments, however. In an effort to create new material, franchises often resort to two maneuvers: 1) Fill in story gaps, and 2) Overemphasize novelty. The former risks demystifying stories by limiting opportunities for us to use our own imaginations, while the latter risks replacing what we enjoyed in the first place with something less compelling, if not ruinous. When novelty becomes more important than integrity and quantity overshadows quality, franchises end up resorting to the instant gratification of gimmickry in trying to sustain their profits, which can only annoy purists and further reduce fandom to mere consumerism. Worse than that, it may convince fans that their love of a franchise entitles them to be pandered to as co-owners, a perspective that drives fans to get angry when they don’t get what they want, regardless of whether it aligns with the vision of those people actually creating the franchise. In this way, fandom itself becomes antagonistic to authorial vision by demanding a tailored product; fandom becomes less appreciative and more transactional.

A fixation on canonicity doesn’t help. At its simplest, there’s no problem per se with the idea of a canon – all it is a narrative continuity across multiple films or books. The concept can be used to distinguish between a creator’s original work and works by others. For example, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are the canon, while the countless derivative works that have followed are not regardless of their individual merits. But canonicity in recent years, particularly with the massive success of the MCU, is often just a way for studios/publishers to reassign creative privilege, justify mediocre work, and persuade consumers to spend more money on whatever new product they’re offering In other words, canonicity is code for intellectual property and, therefore, creative control, which ties in to my first general critique. “Canonicity” can also drive efforts to force disparate creative projects into some kind of whole, which comes weird narrative continuity projects as the DCEU demonstrates.

From Star Trek and Star Wars to Mission: Impossible, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and others, I’ll take a look at some of our popular franchises with these two general critiques in mind. So which franchise will stand up to scrutiny and which will fall? Stay tuned!