Fearful Fandemic

Within the last few weeks, there have been at least two instances at the dinner table where my siblings and I were at each others throats. The ultimate discussion (with varying amounts of volume) were taking place over a subject of vital importance: Which was the best film of the Star Wars saga (not including spinoffs)? Despite my best efforts to ensure Connor and Jackson how great the original trilogy was, they stayed defiant that Revenge of the Sith (Episode 3) is the best.

More than likely, you have become part of a “fandom” at one point in your life. It may not be as vast as those of Star Wars or Star Trek, but it is there. You invest in characters and they become more than just entertainment: They become like an extra family member you feel you did not need at first.

Of course, to quote Sarah Jane Smith from Doctor Who ( I am a fan of both the new and original), “Everything has its time, and everything ends.” When change happens, fans react, and in today’s world of social media, they make sure their voices are heard.

Most recently, this was exhibited in the “Release the Snyder Cut” wars on twitter. With the release of 2017’s Justice League (which I thought was just okay), rumors circulated that director Zach Snyder had a different, darker vision of the film in mind. He had to step down from the film due to a family tragedy, and Joss Whedon (at the helm of the first two Avengers film) came in to finish up. Wind of a Snyder “cut” was roaming around, which gave birth to #releasethesnydercut. Now, with the film premiering on HBO max in 2021, the world can finally see if they get rid of the digitally removed beard of Henry Cavill (Superman).

The issue in question is rather obvious: Are studios truly just submitting to the demands of hardcore fanboys? The following are instances of actors who, at first, were opposed by fans for their casting. Imagine if the following were replaced because of the demand of fans:  Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, and even Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Can you imagine these movies if the fan demands had been obeyed?

That is not to say that all the demands of hardcore fans are wrong. When the trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog came out, there was outrage at the appearance of the blue blazing little hedgehog. The filmmakers obliged, went back, and fixed it. The result was actually worth it. One could even argue that people responding to the notorious character of Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars Ep 1: The Phantom Menace led George Lucas to making sure he was not in any of the remaining episodes (though I think anyone would notice the agony of his presence).

Speaking of that galaxy that was a long time ago and far, far away, I would be remiss if I did not mention what may be the most divisive film in history: The Last Jedi. Even with it’s many haters (including most of my siblings), it is a film I have defended, and will continue to defend, despite some of its flaws (especially the character of DJ). The Star Wars fans (who can be more vicious than any other type of fan) let every one of their thoughts be heard, and it seemed that Disney agreed. Changes were going to be made (it also did not help having the sudden tragic passing of star Carrie Fisher). Very little of The Last Jedi seemed to be evident in The Rise of Skywalker, and it still divided fans (though not as much as it’s predecessor). When I asked a friend (also a movie critic) why this all happened, he responded simply that “People just don’t know what they want.”

Okay, I get it. You have invested a lot of your time in these characters, and then something happens to them that you disagree with. Here is the thing: You may have spent time with the characters, but you did not create these characters. It could almost be on par with us disagreeing with people so much that we question why God allowed them in the first place.

Of course, God gave us the ability to have opinions to be shared (or else I would not be saying these things), but it is with the harshness we have all been telling people that gets dangerous.

I close with a quote from a comic of the true “old school”, the great Will Rogers.

“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”

Written by

Mark A. Lester has been a dedicated movie reviewer since the age of 13, from the classics of the golden age to the blockbusters of the 21st century. He currently lives in the western suburbs of Chicago.

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