Monday, March 5, 2012

Is Prequel the New Black?

Amid all the reimaginings and reboots that seem to be taking hold across movies, television, games, and comics these days, one particular type of work has been slowly, but surely rearing it's head more and more.  That of the prequel.  What is a prequel you may ask?  Well, basically a prequel is work that supplements a previously completed work set in an earlier time period before the already completed work.  Are they suddenly taking over and taking a bigger part of the media market than they deserve?  Maybe...maybe not.

With watching Star Wars: The Phantom Menace a few weeks ago with my kids, it got me thinking about all the current and near future prequels that are on the horizon.  With the release of the first Star Wars prequels, it really seemed to cement the idea of what they can be in the minds of both movie goers and movie executives and that movie and it's two follow-ups seemed the catalyst for such works as The Thing (2011), Fast and Furious, and X-Men: First Class as well as the upcoming Prometheus, Sex in the City prequel, Xerxes, Monster University, and The Hobbit.  Those God-awful, abominations set within the Star Wars universe seemed to really set something in motion that in all reality was already there, we just seem to have short memories for that sort of thing.  Godfather: Part 2 was a prequel to the original Godfather, Mallrats was a prequel to Clerks, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was a prequel to A Fistful of Dollars, almost all of the Planet of the Apes movies have been prequels to the original Planet of the Apes; even good ole George Lucas himself made a prequel before the Star Wars prequels in the form of Temple of Doom being set before the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The whole idea of prequels is not exclusive to movies.  Though not as prevalent on television,  we have gotten shows like Star Trek: Enterprise, Caprica, and Sparticus: Gods of the Arena.

As much as it has been in the forefront of film and video, printed media has been doing prequels for a very long time.  Treasure Island, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Jane Eyre, Dune, The Wheel of Time, Red Dragon, Flowers in the Attic, Harry Potter, and The Hunt for Red October all have had prequels written.  There was even a modern prequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet produced for stage.  With the impending Before Watchmen books coming, some people feel that the comic book industry is just trying to milk every penny from the franchise.  Well, they are, but it is far from the first time the industry has been guilty of it with prequels already produced for works like Kingdom Come, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, and Marvel Zombies. 

Lastly, and certainly not least, we see prequels everywhere in video games.  Dragon Quest, Metal Gear, Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy, Grand Theft Auto, Metroid, Donkey Kong, Silent Hill, Fatal Frame, Ace Combat, Zork, Castlevania, Mortal Kombat, Halo, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog, Dissidia, Suikoden, Kingdom Hearts...the list goes on and on and on.  Ocarina of Time is actually a prequel to the original Legend of Zelda.  Honestly, it is surprising that it isn't happening more with current video games than it does at present, with really only the release of Bioshock Infinite on the horizon. 

So, IS prequel the new black?  Not really if you look at it from a historical point of view.  If anything, some parts of the pop culture industry are finally catching up and it looks like they are here to stay...for good or bad.  Because really, if we have to endure listening to Amidala's droning voice to get to see Fassbender in an X-Men suit, then I can live with that.

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