In the comic world there are a number of major players, the top two being Marvel and DC. Many of their titles have run for well over 50 or 60 years now. With the rise of new multi-million dollar (not pounds sorry) movies and television shows now appearing, there is a point when the big bosses take a look at what they have. Sometime ago, DC comics entered into what they called a ‘Crisis’ storyline which basically involved merging universes into one and producing a new comic line called ‘The 52s’.
This offered DC the chance to start again or reboot as in the IT term. Now Marvel have announced their version of the ‘Crisis’ story. In some respects, there is only so many ways to tell a story with the same characters. Take Doctor Who for example, they have had the same evil characters throughout the past 50 years. So how do they keep it fresh? I think for them, they sort found their reboot by accident when they introduced the Doctor’s regeneration. That allowed a new actor to face each bad guy in a different story. Has that damaged the Who universe? Not one bit. It has kept going (just about) for 50 years and has no plans to stop, as yet.
However, Doctor Who is just one main character and he always becomes the Doctor after each regeneration. There is the Tardis which sort of regenerates as well yet stays the same on the outside. The odd lick of paint makes it a bit brighter but its the same each time. Sometimes his time travel crosses universes but unlike DC’s merging, the Who universe does not really recreate a character. Yes the Daleks and Cybermen look new but they are just production changes.
The problem for DC and Marvel, any major universe in fact, is how to keep the same while changing and not lose readers or viewers. It’s a very difficult time when you pen the words, ‘and the world exploded killing everyone’. Many writers face the same problem, when to draw a conclusion to their favourite character. Many fans can never understand why a writer would wish to end their favourite character. Why do you have to stop?
Ian Flemming faced that very problem when he decided to kill James Bond after only a short time. There was an out cry and he came back. For some writers, a character or characters take on a life of their own and they can also take over the life of the writer. They invade their thoughts, they almost stalk the writer calling out for new stories. Write me, write more for me, a character might say to his writer. The writer has to decide what is best.
For me, the decision by Marvel to rewrite its own universes into a new one is a bold and maybe dangerous step. DC took that same step and it is still here. Is the new DC universe any better? I don’t know, but the new television series of Arrow and The Flash certainly have made an impact. Marvel movies and their television show has upped the stakes. Marvel comics have a huge fan base, very loyal and very passionate about their universe. There is the problem for any writer of any long-standing character or universe, the fans.
How do you explain to them that all will be fine as you rip apart what they love? How do you explain that as the writer you can no longer find another version of the same story. That is the tough part.
The Marvel announcement will no doubt cause many posts on many web pages with many points of view. Stan Lee has already commented on the change in a positive way. One idea is to take a trip back in time and start again or bring back old dead characters or rip up all the past of a character and bring them back to something. Whatever happens, whatever the plans are it will upset someone and bring someone new to the universe. Wait and see.
Tagline: ‘Hang on, wasn’t the universe a different colour a moment ago?’