Why Kevin Smith Will Never Make A Star Wars Or Marvel Movie

If one knows anything about filmmaker Kevin Smith, it's that he loves "Star Wars." Also superhero comics. He is an old-school Gen-X pop culture nerd. If the Death Star conversation in his 1994 film "Clerks" wasn't enough evidence, the constant Marvel Comics references in his 1995 film "Mallrats" ought to clinch it. Smith was even able to secure a cameo from Stan Lee, playing himself. Lee, reading from a script Smith wrote, got to brag about how he has had more sex partners than Mick Jagger. Then, not to be outdone, "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" — notice the title — featured a cameo from Mark Hamill, also playing himself. He appears in costume as a movie superhero named ... well, his name cannot be printed in a safe-for-work website. 

But Smith is more than a mere fanboy. He's involved. The filmmaker has repeatedly been involved with "Star Wars" side projects, and once hosted a "Star Wars" fan film awards show. Smith also infamously penned a script for "Superman Lives," which led to a bizarre story full of obsessive studio notes that Smith has told many times. Additionally, he has written numerous comic books starring Spider-Man, Green Arrow, Daredevil, and Batman. All of this is in addition to his many Askewniverse comic books. Most recently, Smith wrote and served as showrunner on "Masters of the Universe: Revelation," a reboot of the 1983 Filmation animated series.

Given his geek pedigree, it seems that Smith would be a perfect match for one of Disney's high-end "Star Wars" feature films or well-moneyed chapters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Smith, in a recent interview with the Guardian, revealed that he was extremely reluctant to do such a thing. "Revelation," it seems, taught him a dark lesson.

Insanely reticent

It seems that the 1983 animated series "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe," while functionally not much different from a toy commercial, has many, many fans who are incredibly tetchy about the show's extant lore. When Smith, also a fan, came in to create an update, he elected to enrich the story. The premise was that the show's hero and villain, He-Man and Skeletor, had a final conflagration so intense, it not only ended both their lives but damaged the fantasy realm's source of magic. The character of Teela (Sarah Michelle Gellar), having been banished, had to seek out He-Man's magical sword in order to restore the kingdom. 

Some might find the story fascinating, and the change of pace to be clever. "Masters of the Universe" was, after all, paper-thin to start. Evidently, there was a great deal of fan backlash, with some particularly sexist corners of Reddit chiming in to criticize Smith's decisions. Smith assumed he was doing something clever that fans would enjoy. It seems that even attempting to tinker with certain fan bases led Smith to conclude that fan communities are dangerous. Knowing that someone is going to be angry regardless, Smith said he would pass on something like "Star Wars" or the MCU. Why make a movie if you know fans will call you a terrible person? Smith said

"It's a fool's errand – you're going to piss somebody off. Fandom is rabid and tribal. When I worked on 'Masters of the Universe,' I took a lot of heat from people who felt like I had ruined their childhood. Going near a Marvel or a 'Star Wars' would make me insanely reticent. They've got a billion people to make those movies, but nobody's making Kevin Smith movies, so I might as well make them."

The Dogma incident

Smith, of course, does well to worry. In 1999, he made a film called "Dogma," which looks at Smith's childhood Catholic faith through the lens of superhero comic books. The film was crass and flip about religious matters, but was wise and sensitive. Nevertheless, the Catholic League protested his movie prior to release, an activity Smith immediately undercut by attending a protest himself. His film also attracted the attention of the Westboro Baptist Church, which is not so much a church as a small, organized, protest-based hate group that pickets funerals, movies, and anything they deem to be immoral. Most of their protests are based in homophobia. Smith has told a story at a Q&A for his film "Red State" — which this author attended — about how the Westboro people would protest frequently. At first Smith was amused. When the Church threatened his young daughter, however, he became angry and afraid. "Red State" was his response to that. 

In short, Smith had tasted the darker parts of audience anger, and likely didn't want to go anywhere near that kind of hate ever again. Even if it was just angry "Star Wars" fans and MCU-heads, dabbling in such widely seen and widely talked about feature films is to welcome too much exposure. Smith could certainly write and direct a film about his favorite superheroes, but it seems it's not worth the headache.

To his point, only Kevin Smith can make Kevin Smith movies. Any number of people could make a Star War. Most recently, the director stuck to his word and made "Clerks III." "Star Wars," meanwhile, is on its 130th TV show.