Sci-Fi Fan Petitions That Became A Reality

Science fiction franchises live and die based on the response that they get from fans. The passionate fans of franchises like Marvel, DC, "Star Wars," "Star Trek," "Doctor Who," and "Battlestar Galactica" are known for making their opinions heard. In the era of social media, there is more opportunity than ever before for fans to discuss the franchises that they love. Audiences flock to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd to urge studios to make decisions.

Like all elements of fan culture, petitions and requests have a dark side. While it's understandable to be upset with a creative decision, harassing the actors, writers, and directors is never okay. The discourse around some franchises like "Star Wars" has become dominated by a toxic minority that makes sexist, racist, and xenophobic remarks. It's important to remember that these detractors do not represent the entire fan community. Studios should not feel that they have to cater to the demands of abusive fans who feel that they are owed something. Toxicity is not consistent with the values that franchises like "Star Wars" promote.

However, this does not mean that fan campaigns are always a bad thing. Sometimes, it is nice for a fan community to rally around a good cause that allows them to show off their creativity and passion. While it doesn't always result in change, a fan petition can at least let the creators know that their work is appreciated. These sci-fi fan petitions inspired real change.

Sonic the Hedgehog was redesigned

Video game movies have always struggled creatively. Even though there is a lot of great source material out there, cinematic versions of video games like "Warcraft," "Assassin's Creed," and "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" took a turn for the disastrous. Understandably, there was a lot of hesitation going into the first "Sonic the Hedgehog" movie. However, "Sonic" fans were not pleased when the first theatrical trailer for the film debuted. The design of the titular character was sharply criticized.

However, Paramount Pictures took note of these valid criticisms and announced that they would be redesigning the character ahead of the film's release. "Sonic the Hedgehog" was pushed back from its original release date of November 2019 to March 2020. Although some rumors indicated that it would be an expensive change, Indiewire reported that the redesign only added $5 million to the budget. Veteran "Sonic" media visual artist Tyson Hesse was brought in to supervise the changes.

In the end, "Sonic the Hedgehog" was a success story. "Sonic" fans were pleased with the new version of the character and felt that it more accurately represented the spirit of the games. "Sonic the Hedgehog" is one of the rare video game movies that works for its intended audience. The film was aimed at children but includes a lot of great references to the character's history. A sequel, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," was released in 2022, and a third film is in development.

Star Trek: The Original Series was revived with a letter writing campaign

Before the era of social media, it was harder for fan communities to express their opinions. Studios, networks, and production companies could rely on box office numbers, critical reviews, and television ratings, but they didn't always recognize when something had taken grasp of pop culture. While letter-writing campaigns have become somewhat defunct today, "Star Trek" fans rallied around their beloved series so that NBC would keep it on the air.

Avid "Star Trek" fans Bjo and John Trimble were devastated when NBC announced the show's cancellation after the end of the second season. They felt that the network did not understand what a rapturous reception the series had received from a passionate community. They organized the "Save Star Trek" campaign after they spoke with series creator Gene Roddenberry. NBC was convinced, and the network renewed "Star Trek" for a third season. Bjo Trimble reflected that "Gene was thrilled that the fans liked his show since everyone in Hollywood was betting it would not last very long."

Although Season 3 was "Star Trek's" last, the hype around the campaign led to the series performing very well in syndication. It was evident that "Star Trek" fans would avidly consume any project set within the universe. In the next decade, "Star Trek: The Animated Series" reunited the main cast, and they returned once more for the highly successful film franchise. "Star Trek" is a franchise defined by its fans' compassion and diligence.

Rosario Dawson cast as Ahsoka Tano

After 2005's "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," it didn't seem like there would be any more "Star Wars" films anytime soon. The Skywalker saga had supposedly concluded, and the future of the franchise was now on television. Surprisingly, Lucasfilm decided to release the animated "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" movie a few months before the debut of the series of the same name. The 2008 film marked the first appearance of Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, a young Torgutan girl who becomes the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter).

Ahsoka became a fan favorite. Young women felt represented and empowered by the character, and Ahsoka's fate became a huge question that boggled "Star Wars" fans' minds. Although Ahsoka abandons the Jedi Order at the end of "The Clone Wars," she ends up surviving Order 66 and becomes a prominent character in "Star Wars Rebels." When Disney took control of the franchise, fans made it clear that they wanted to see a live-action depiction of Ahsoka.

Rosario Dawson became a popular choice to play the character. After a fan tweeted the potential casting to Dawson, she used the #AhsokaLives hashtag to signify her interest in the role. This caught the attention of "The Clone Wars" supervising director Dave Filoni, who later became one of the creators of "The Mandalorian." Dawson was cast as Ahsoka in the live-action show's second season. She will return for the Disney+ series "Ahsoka."

John Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic

To put it mildly, the cinematic adaptations of "The Fantastic Four" haven't been well received. While Tim Story's films can be defended for their sense of humor, the less said about 2015's "Fant4stic," the better. When the Walt Disney Company purchased 20th Century Fox, it took control of the studio's Marvel properties. It was clear that the Fantastic Four would be rebooted once more, this time within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fans quickly made it clear who they wanted as Reed Richards and Sue Storm. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, who are married in real life, were seemingly ideal to play the superhero couple. Krasinski was coming off of a massive wave of success. He directed and starred in the surprise sci-fi hit "A Quiet Place" and took on the title role in Amazon's "Jack Ryan." Would Krasinski be too busy to schedule a slate of MCU appearances?

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" director Sam Raimi took note of Krasinski's popularity. Raimi and Kevin Feige made the mutual decision to grant the fans' wish. Krasinski pops up for a cameo as an alternate dimension version of Reed Richards in the film. While the appearance of Patrick Stewart as Professor X was revealed in some teaser trailers, Krasinski's role was a complete surprise. Raimi notes that "because this is an alternate universe, I think Kevin said, 'Let's make that dream come true.'" He was already a fan of Krasinski's work and thought he would be perfect.

Sense8 was brought back for a two-part finale

The Wachowski sisters' impact on sci-fi cannot be taken for granted. "The Matrix" wasn't just a smash hit. It fundamentally changed the way Hollywood studios thought about action filmmaking, original properties, and franchise potential. Although the original "The Matrix" film was a phenomenon that rivaled "Star Wars," the Wachowski sisters showed the same level of originality with their Netflix sci-fi series, "Sense8." While "The Matrix" has been reassessed for its subtle commentary on gender roles, "Sense8" openly discusses topics like sexual identity, political awareness, and post-racial globalism. The international cast made it one of the most inclusive television projects of its era.

"Sense8" follows a group of eight strangers who discover that they have the ability to experience each other's memories. As their visions grow stronger, Capheus Onyango (Aml Ameen), Sun Baek (Bae Doona), Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton), Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai), Riley Gunnarsdóttir (Tuppence Middleton), Wolfgang Bogdanow (Max Riemelt), Lito Rodriguez (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), and Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith) must discover how they are connected. Although "Sense8" set up a third season with a shocking cliffhanger, Netflix canceled the series at the end of season 2.

"Sense8" fans wanted to see a proper conclusion and argued that canceling the series so abruptly was a slap in the face to those that felt represented for the first time. In response to the overwhelming outcry, Netflix greenlit a special two-part finale, which brought the series' story to an end.

Calls to renew Firefly spawned Serenity

"Firefly" is like "Star Trek" in more ways than one. Both shows take place in the distant future and follow the crew of a slick spaceship as they go on intergalactic adventures. "Firefly" and "Star Trek" both attracted an avid fanbase, but sadly, they were both canceled in their prime. The cancellation of "Firefly" was particularly shocking. The series had shown that it had a lot of potential and showrunner Joss Whedon was very popular thanks to the success of both "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel." However, Fox made the mistake of airing the first season out of order, which created confusion among viewers. The pilot was the last episode to run before the series went off the air.

"Firefly" fans protested for a renewal, arguing that the series had the potential to become a phenomenon once more people got the chance to check it out. The show became increasingly popular once the series was released on DVD. "Firefly" fans, who referred to themselves as "Browncoats," became increasingly active in early online communities. They made it clear that they would be ecstatic to see any continuation.

Although "Firefly" never got a second season, the fan petitions were enough to convince Universal Pictures that a film project was viable. Whedon was brought back to make his cinematic directorial debut with "Serenity," which wrapped up the main storyline of "Firefly" and brought back the original cast.

Leaked footage led to the development of Deadpool

Deadpool is one of the most popular Marvel comic book characters. Since his debut in the 1990s, Deadpool has been popular because he breaks the fourth wall and acknowledges the tired comic book clichés. Sadly, Deadpool did not receive the proper cinematic debut that he deserved. Ryan Reynolds appeared as Deadpool for the first time in 2009's "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," a disastrous prequel to the "X-Men" saga that explores how Logan (Hugh Jackman) gained his powers. In a film filled with bad decisions, the decision to silence the "Merc with a Mouth" was particularly egregious.

Despite the negative reception, Reynolds retained his enthusiasm for the character, arguing that he could do a better job if he was able to appear in a more accurate version of the source material. In 2014, leaked test footage of a "Deadpool" project that Reynolds was working on with director Tim Miller hit the Internet. Fans were overwhelmingly supportive of the short. It finally seemed like the Deadpool that they knew and loved. After the positive feedback, 20th Century Fox greenlighted a "Deadpool" movie.

"Deadpool" was just as subversive on the big screen as he was on the pages of the comics. The foul-mouthed character's self-awareness felt like a breath of fresh air compared to other superhero movies. The film proved to studios that R-Rated superhero movies could be successful with both critics and audiences.

Disney renewed Kim Possible

Disney Channel's "Kim Possible" is the rare children's animated series that adults can enjoy. "Kim Possible" is the compelling coming-of-age story of the titular teenage crime fighter. Kim has to deal with all the stressful aspects of high school such as bullies, homework, and romance as she faces off against an eclectic group of villains. "Kim Possible" is a satire of espionage franchises like James Bond and "Mission: Impossible" and subverts familiar archetypes with its cheeky sense of humor.

After the spinoff movie, "Kim Possible: So the Drama," aired on Disney Channel in 2005, the series was canceled. Since the 1990s, Disney Channel had rarely renewed television shows beyond three seasons, as they felt the audience would grow out of shows once they got older. However, "Kim Possible" fans rallied behind the series to save it from cancellation. After "Kim Possible: So The Drama" performed well on the network, Disney Channel decided to ramp up production on a fourth and final season. Season 4 ended with the hour-long finale, "Graduation," which brought Kim's high school journey to its conclusion.

Fans of the series flocked to social media when the show began airing on Disney XD in 2014. Disney Channel attempted to revive the series in 2019 with a live-action television film, but the film did not generate enough attention to spawn any follow-ups.

Amazon rescued The Expanse from cancellation

James S. A. Corey (the pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) generated a massive fanbase with the exciting science fiction novel series "The Expanse." "The Expanse" featured a fascinating cast of characters and spent much time meticulously fleshing out its detailed version of the future. A powerful generator known as the "Epstein Drive" allows humans to travel between planets, and the entire Solar System has been colonized. "Children of Men" screenwriters Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby were fans of the series and developed an acclaimed adaptation for the Syfy network.

"The Expanse" was a novelty on television. It felt like the first space-bound series since "Battlestar Galactica" that was able to manage ongoing storylines without feeling bloated. Although the series was warmly received, Syfy canceled the show after its third season in 2018. Fans lobbied Amazon Studios to revive the series, and an online petition to #SaveTheExpanse reached 100,000 signatures. Some fans even paid for an airplane to fly a banner around the Amazon Studios office. There were even some celebrities that took part in the campaign, including "Star Trek: The Next Generation" star Wil Wheaton, "Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin, and comedian Patton Oswalt.

Amazon Studios recognized that the series had an audience and picked up "The Expanse" for a fourth season. "The Expanse" concluded in 2021 with its sixth and final installment. The warmly received Season 6 finale teased the possibility of spin-off projects

#ReleaseTheSnyderCut actually worked

To say that 2013's "Man of Steel" was controversial would be putting it mildly. The dark, brooding take on Superman's (Henry Cavill) origin story split movie fans down the middle. While some viewers enjoyed the film's serious tone, others felt that it was confusingly edited, riddled with plot holes, and devoid of the hope that Superman should represent. Zack Snyder's follow-up, 2016's "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice," was even more divisive.

Snyder left the production of "Justice League," and Joss Whedon stepped in to oversee reshoots. Whedon changed the tone of the film, making it brighter and more humorous. "Justice League" was poorly received, and Warner Brothers chose to set the DCEU aside and focus on different projects. However, vocal fans started the "#ReleaseTheSnyderCut" movement, arguing that Snyder had a "secret" director's cut of the film that had been put in the archives.

A riveting report by "Rolling Stone" recounted the group's origins. Fans were characterized as toxic and often harassed journalists and critics who were critical of Snyder's films. Although Snyder had not completed a different version of the film, Warner Brothers greenlighted an extended cut that cost an additional $100 million. According to the "Rolling Stone" article, more than 13 percent of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut commenters were fake accounts. The report claims that Snyder personally weaponized the fanbase to get revenge. When Warner Brothers catered to this group's demands, it created insidious implications for the future of fan culture.