If there’s something Hollywood and whatever entertainment industry you like to fellate should learn from Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is that you need a solid plan to follow from the get-go, or at least after its proven that you have something worthwhile in your hands. At this point, its not just recommended, the consumers expect it. We’ve come to a point where cinematic universes have become its own thing, despite stories continuing from entry to entry in TV and film have been nothing new since the early film serials. Hell, someone like me could even make an argument that Marvel’s films and series are nothing more than overblown, high budget film serials, but they had to have a more marketable name.
What’s one of the most common complaint you hear about the new Star Wars movies? At least one of them is that Disney and Lucasfilm had no clear plan how the story would advance, they had nothing planned in advance. Sure, the original trilogy didn’t have one either, but we’re not in the 1970’s and 1980’s anymore. The very rough outline of the Prequel movies did exist in Lucas’ head though, something that can’t be said about these Sequel movies. J.J. Abrams is infamous for making plots and stories with no planned advancement or end result. Stuff are just mystery boxes you figure out as you go along without any care. Who cares if it makes sense if it can create suspension and shit like that. It makes poor storytelling, and at worst, breaks immersion. No, not immersion, but sense. Disney had a chance to write sequel series to the most popular science fiction franchise in the history of global entertainment, the series that made their Marvel movies possible at all (Episode I effectively created the modern computer driven digital movie making everyone and their mothers use in Hollywood for all big bang budget event movies) and yet they just don’t plan ahead. Oh they planned ahead how many movies how many times a decade they’ll be making, make no mistake about that, but the content of these movies and what they were going to be about was unknown. Of course, this being Disney, adapting any existing work from the previous Expanded Universe was out of question. That’d mean they’d have to pay royalties. Don’t think for a moment that Disney didn’t abandon old EU just to abandon all needs to pay anyone anything. Now that they can make their own little canon, worse than what it was with the Sequel movies, they don’t need to pay anyone for their stories.
Take a look at Star Trek at this moment for a parallel comparison. Its in the trash at the moment. Netflix doesn’t want the third season of Discovery and is now forcing CBS balls deep into action if they want that series to continue. The Picard series was passed on to Amazon, and Amazon supposedly wants to back out from that series due to terrible pre-screening reception. I don’t blame them, if the rumours are true. There was a plan for Trek, and that plan was the Arbams movies to succeed. Well that plan got fucked when all three blew. Discovery clearly had no long-term plan, and got changed multiple times in direction and plot to the point of the Season 2 of the show having very different tone to it, and the goddamn Enterprise had to be shoved in there. I bet your ass that they took the whole thing into the future at the end of the Season 2 just to appease down people who kept saying that the technology looked too advanced for the time period, so now its in the future. Should work for you, eh? Not that canon matters anyway, but goddamn if its not one of the bet PR things they can market to audiences and core fans.
Of course, if your plan sucks and is failing, you should abort it and straighten the direction. This being billion dollar companies throwing money left and right inside their own little bubbles with no real contact with the grass root level consumers where all their money comes from, nobody should be surprised that they only realise how bad things can go afterwards. If there’s one thing we common folk should learn from Hollywood is that self-PR and bullshitting your way through everything makes big bucks. Just put the blame on everyone else and diplomatically tell anyone consuming your products to go fuck themselves. Pay PR firms to put out articles on sites how fans are in the wrong and how your product is for better fans who value superior products. Then you never really get them, or the money. Licensees don’t want to license your new show’s designs and other small things that eat away your profit all the damn time.
They say longform storytelling is the new TV-standard, but from all the Netflix shows and such, it doesn’t really show. Sure there’s a plot going through episode to episode, but vast majority of shows that use longform stories are still extremely episodic. You can skip a boring episode over and lose nothing. All you need to have is three episode, effectively; where the plot starts, where the twist happens, and the end. All others are inconsequential filler at best. Or in Discovery‘s case, have a two-parter that is worse than the worst episode of Star Trek to date about mushroom macrovirus living your brain and people coming back to life in mushroom dimension. No, it is even more retarded than it sounds.
If you want to make a cohesive long story that jumps from movie to movie, from series to series, in a given time when you’re making these movies and series by the dozens, it’d be a good idea to sit down with someone who wants to spend decade of their lifetime keeping things in leash.
Sure, many stories are very successful when told in parts, episodic and piece by piece rather than planned out. The thing is, they were planned as mostly self-confined pieces that allowed things to organically expand and grow from rather then deliberately set up something, or in most cases, planned to have seven movies right after year-by-year basis. Maybe its just these people running these franchises can’t do their jobs properly as providers and do whatever they want. Well, the result is as it is now, and things keep going south.