This Over-Serilization Problem is Spreading
This week, I would like to address a pressing issue that not only affects America but also the entire world. This issue has caused a significant amount of consolidation, both in the corporate and creative realms of the entertainment industry over the past two decades.
An Era of Endless Series
Once upon a time, when someone recommended a book series, a movie franchise, or a video game, it was understood that the first installment must have been good enough to warrant the creation of more. However, there used to be an understanding that there should be limits to how far a series could go. All good stories must have an end. For example, the Harry Potter series consisted of only seven main books, while George Lucas planned for just nine Star Wars movies. Artists comprehended the importance of concluding the characters, series, or franchises that their fans love most. However, sometimes they fail to do so.
The Warning Signs
In 2009, the release of the fourth Fast and Furious movie marked a clear warning sign of the danger of over-serializing movies. It became increasingly difficult to determine when the franchise stopped being about cars, as humorously posed by a former classmate. But perhaps the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) takes the “gone on too long” cake. While initially a compelling story, the MCU has become over-serialized, with exclusive shows, uninspiring characters, and an overly complex timeline that requires additional series to understand. This has led to a decrease in popularity as Marvel executives seem to be losing focus and failing to achieve their intended goals and captivate new audiences.
Decline in Book Series
Over-serialization is not solely limited to movies; even my favorite book series, the Jack Ryan Universe by Tom Clancy, has suffered. The decline did not begin with Clancy’s passing in 2013 but had already set in after The Bear and the Dragon in 2000. No subsequent book truly matched the suspense, action, and multi-plotline narrative that Clancy had excelled at for sixteen years. His passing only accelerated the decline, resulting in indistinguishable thrillers where the main character conveniently and unrealistically saves America once again after falling in love abroad. This departure from Clancy’s trademark realism is particularly tragic.
Video Games and Mediocrity
Even video games have fallen victim to over-serialization. Take for instance my favorite franchise, Halo, which played a significant role in popularizing first-person shooters. However, the series is now mired in a whirlpool of mediocrity due to 343 Studios’ inability to maintain the beloved elements of the old Halo games while adapting critical features found in modern games. This has led to widespread disappointment within the gamer community. Highly anticipated franchise games, such as Halo Infinite and Battlefield 2042, often release unfinished and lose their player base within the first two months. Although they may eventually become more polished a year later, the initial loss of interest is difficult to recover from. Call of Duty has managed to evade this fate through the sheer volume of releases, but it is only a matter of time before a standalone creative game takes center stage.
The Need for Conclusion
Marvel should have ended with Avengers: Endgame. Jack Ryan has been president in fifteen books now. If the next Halo game can only be good by killing off the beloved character, Master Chief, then so be it – I’ll shed a tear and continue playing. To all directors, producers, writers, authors, and creative designers, I issue a warning: know when it’s time to let go of your characters and stories, or the audience will do it for you.