Archives for : May2015

Coulson Lives! Or, MCU’s Status Quo Fakeouts

Coulson

Comic books have always had an interesting dilemma. Their big name characters are too iconic (and therefore, too valuable) to be laid to rest, but their stories need to generate some degree of dramatic tension in order to keep readers’ interest. Hence the ever-popular Superhero Death. The Superhero Death is the card the publishers want you to think can only be played once, but of course we all know the truth. How many times have Superman and Batman and Wolverine and Spiderman “died”, only to be resurrected, either within the ongoing story thread itself or via a series reboot? Superhero Deaths are the card you can play any number of times, provided you allow enough time between deployments to counter the law of diminishing returns.

The film franchises that have burst forth from these comic origins, revenue juggernauts that they are, have the exact same problem. Audiences are wise to their act. We even know their game plan – to beat potential leaks to the punch, Marvel publicly revealed their entire slate of upcoming films, with release dates, through 2019. We know their characters are invulnerable to movie death, and while the main character’s potential demise is hardly the only carrot you can dangle to create suspense in a movie (truly, in nearly every mainstream movie we KNOW the good guys will prevail), the threat of staleness looms over every episodic piece of fiction that has no set endpoint. Paradoxically, people tend to crave the new as much as they crave the familiar. The changeover always happens when “familiar” morphs into “predictable”. 

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