One of the issues of being a writer of news for a lot of different awesome topics under the banner of “geek” is that most of the time, you want to try and be objective about the actual news part of it, so that the information is effectively communicated with your reader. That often means that you need to check most of your opinions at the door, unless you think they’ll serve to contextualize the facts you’re presenting, and as long as you clearly communicate that part of what you’re writing is either speculation or opinion.
That’s what’s nice about separating from news writing and going straight for an editorial piece: the proverbial gloves can come off, and you can just say what you think. With that in mind, I think that creating a Ghostbusters shared universe is a bad idea.
On paper, it sounds fine: create an intertwining, shared narrative structure for multiple narrative products to play in, and open up the possibility for those independently established characters to then meet up in some kind of crossover. Makes sense, right? The only problem, of course, is that it seems like everyone wants to do this now with as many genre properties as they can get a hold of. While it’s not exactly unwarranted thinking, there seems to be an imminent flood of supply when it comes to live-action, fictional shared universes in addition to the already established Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is largely responsible for innovating the concept.
We’ve also got a DC Cinematic Universe on the way, with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice spinning out of the events of Man of Steel to create a shared world between the DC Comics-based films from Warner Bros. This seems like a given, though, since the characters of DC Comics have been operating in a shared universe in the source material for decades. Out of left field came the announcement that Universal Pictures is seeking to create a shared universe based on their classic Monsters properties, with the likes of Dracula, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and others comprising it. That one’s a little bit more of a stretch, but the characters are diverse, and the films go back to the 1930s, so you could argue that there’s enough history and interesting occupants that a universe may not be completely unreasonable.
And then, there’s Ghostbusters. With source material comprising only two films released in the 1980s — one of which being generally looked down upon — there doesn’t seem to be a very diverse character set or situation outlook to effectively populate an entire shared universe, so a lot of it will need to be fabricated. That task is certainly not impossible, and the property is very well loved by millions of devoted fans, but shared universes are all about longevity. How long can a universe subsist if it can’t tell a series of diverse stories with a lot of different characters? And now, with a prominent rumor saying that the original film will never have happened in the formulation of the new universe, where exactly could they be gong with it?
Any comic book fan will tell you: the ongoing DC and Marvel universes have existed for a long time because they’re not tied to one respective genre, or one specific character. It’s a cumulative affair that thrives on many different characters, and many different realities, permitting many different stories. On that basis, a Ghostbusters shared universe just doesn’t seem like the kind of work that you base an entire universe on, and as much as I love the first films (both of them), I just have a very difficult time seeing this as a good idea.
Also, as a massive fan of the original cast, my anticipation for new Ghostbusters — which I had been maintaining since the early 90’s — frankly died with the death of Harold Ramis. If you’re going to create a new universe without even a mention of the original cast, then I just can’t get onboard with the idea. There will be new Ghostbusters, but there will only be one set of real Ghostbusters. If you, Sony, can’t be bothered to include them in some fashion either as history for your new universe or as the mentors of your new crew, then I honestly don’t know what to make of you.
Maybe they’ll succeed, but I and many others will likely be very surprised — and pleasantly so — if they do. Just don’t forget where you come from.
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