I’m a relatively positive guy. I love geeking out over the movies and television shows I really respond to, and I try to bring that enthusiasm to the site. But you can’t love everything. Here are 9 current movie trends (and also television trends) that I’m starting to hate.
Some of these things are Hollywood buzzwords that are current to this moment. Other things are storytelling cliches that have existed for a long time and either just won’t die or have somehow made big new homes in today’s pop culture landscape. And as the business of filmmaking evolves, so does the content, distribution and consumption of films. That leads to interesting times that aren’t without their annoyances. What current movie tends are annoying me as of late? Which television trends do I hate? Find out, after the jump.
1. Marvel-Style Shared Universe
The following tweet from /Film writer Angie Han inspired this list post:
Congrats, "Marvel-style universe," on joining "gritty reboot" and "origin story" on list of phrases that automatically make me lose interest
— Angie J. Han (@ajhan) October 2, 2014
I love Marvel, and ! am excited about finally seeing the cross-media storytelling that was always a failed promise of the corporate “synergy” concept. Planning a story that extends outside of one movie is nothing new. Most Hollywood tentpoles are planned to set up a possible sequel. Sometimes Hollywood has ordered sequels to be written together and shot back-to-back, as was the case for the Back to the Future sequels and Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit trilogies. I believe the Wachowskis were probably the first to make it sort-of happen with The Matrix sequels, which connected across different media with a video game and anime movie.
We live in a world where binge watching serial long-form television on Netflix has become the norm, so its no surprise that audiences would want to see this happen on the big screen. And you know the movie studios want to replicate the success Marvel has seen in bridging characters and stories across a series of films and television series. Disney is currently trying to replicate the formula with Star Wars. (Which makes me wonder why Star Wars mega-fan Kevin Feige wasn’t brought over to LucasFilm to help make that happen.)
Sony has been trying (so far unsuccessfully) to replicate the Marvel-style universe with Spider-Man. Fox has attempted the same with the X-Men universe. The Jack Ryan reboot was supposed to be the first movie in a new series which would potentially cross over into spin-offs with other Tom Clancy characters, stories and movies, but the film was not successful enough to make it happen.
Anyway, we haven’t seen many of the projects that are attempting to create Marvel-style universes, but a lot of projects have been announced over the last two years. We’ve heard about Universal rebooting the classic Universal monsters in stand-alone films with the plan to lead to an Avengers-style team-up. Dan Aykroyd not only wants to make a new Ghostbusters film, but create a whole universe of movies. And there have been many other movies announced, like Sony’s Robin Hood adaptation, which will attempt to turn Sherwood Forrest into its own cinematic universe.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what Marvel has done with their cinematic universe. It is amazing. I hope Disney can replicate the formula with Star Wars as I’m a big fan of that franchise. But I don’t think all of these movies and characters necessarily deserve their own cinematic universes. The last Robin Hood movie was supposed to be the first of a trilogy of films and Ridley Scott couldn’t even make that happen. Why does Sony think they can do it a few years later? Does Robin Hood really offer that many storytelling possibilities? The term “Marvel-style universe” has already been used to death, so much so, we haven’t even seen many of the formula copycats on the big screen and I’m already annoyed.
2. Television’s New Season Swerveback
I love serial television and cliffhangers, especially when a good television series season ends in a way that you couldn’t possibly have predicted. Its exciting. But many of these shows have fallen into a trend that I have come to hate, and I call that the new season swerveback. The season leaves our characters in a very interesting place, and we can’t even imagine how the next season will look.
What I’m talking about is not the traditional cliffhanger like you would see in 24 where the character is in danger at the end of one episode and narrowly escapes somehow at the start of the next episode. I’m talking about and ending that seems definitive, with the lead character or characters being left with the seemingly irreversible situation where their lives will be changed forever.
This sometimes involves the lead characters living in a very different part of the world, working for a very different company, or being imprisoned in some way. The next season opens up in this new place/situation, and in the matter of an episode or three, has the characters back to essentially the same place they were before the conclusion of the previous season.
Many shows have done it, including Mad Men, Dexter, Scandal, Suits and more. While this trend has been happening more and more in recent years (maybe because Netflix, cable television and binge watching have helped the rise of more and more serialized television), I first noticed it in shows like Alias, 24 and Friday Night Lights. I applaud the shows that concluded with a twist and stuck with it for at least the next season. For instance: Battlestar Galactica and The Wire both took follow-up seasons to very different settings and situations.
My list of current movie and television trends continues after the jump.