Entertainment is a pivotal part of our lives. When a TV show, movie, or character manages to connect with you on a deeper level, it's inevitable to feel attached to it. It's one of the best things about fiction. However, there's one crucial thing we often overlook: As a moviegoing audience, we tend to be incredibly clingy, as illustrated by a recent interview with one of Hollywood's most acclaimed directors.
Christopher Nolan is best known for directing the iconic Dark Knight trilogy, the last film of which was released five years ago in 2012. Right now, he's gearing up for his acclaimed new film, #Dunkirk, to hit theaters.
The director attended this year's CinemaCon to promote the war epic. There (to the surprise of literally no one) Nolan was asked to give his input on Ben Affleck's take on the Caped Crusader in the DCEU. He replied:
"No, no, I don’t want to go into that. I’m here to talk about 'Dunkirk'."
Some fans may inevitably see this as dismissive when they are eager to know what the director thinks about a new take on a character he revitalized. But that's not what it is, at all. In reality, his response highlights a bigger problem with fandom in general.
We Don't Allow Directors And Actors To Move On From Iconic Projects
This is the real issue here. Whether it's a director who helmed a well-loved movie that became a classic, or an actor that brought a now-famous character to life in live-action, audiences tie them closely to those projects forever after. Unfortunately, that's not a new situation.
Adam West hit it big when he portrayed #Batman in the classic '60s Batman TV series. The show became a phenomenon and the character was cemented in pop culture... but at the cost of West's career. After the show ended, the actor was unable to find stable work again, as he was too closely associated with the Caped Crusader.
We've also seen it happen more recently with actors like Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, and Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man. And in the case of directors, with Joss Whedon, Bryan Singer and George Lucas. All individuals who've made the effort to get out of their previous works' shadows, but inevitably get pulled back into the fray by fans who aren't able to let go.
We just have to look at the Harry Potter franchise to get an idea of just how clingy fans can be. Of the three main actors, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, Radcliffe and Watson have been the ones to enjoy the most successful careers, particularly the latter. She's been able to shake off as much of the saga's magic dust as she can. Unfortunately to this day, no matter what project she's in, when it comes to promoting the movies, the topic of the Boy who Lived pops up every single time.
That kind of unhealthy attachment has a lot to do with so many directors and actors being afraid to commit to franchises: Because of all the baggage that comes with them. No matter how many projects they do afterward, they run the high risk of always being associated with a specific movie, which in turn can hurt their career over time.
Learn To Let Things Go—Please
"I loved every minute of it. It's really hard to look at that kind of stuff and say ‘give me more.’ Because enough is enough. Oh my God. It was everything. It was everything. How can everything not be enough?"
#JossWhedon agrees with his former actor. He cringed when he saw the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign a few years ago because he knew fans would immediately start pestering him about doing the same for a Firefly reboot:
My fourth feeling when I read about [it] was a kind of dread. Because I realized the only thing that would be on everybody's mind right now. I've said repeatedly that I would love to make another movie with these guys, and that remains the case. It also remains the case that I'm booked up by Marvel for the next three years, and that I haven't even been able to get Dr. Horrible 2 off the ground because of that. So I don't even entertain the notion of entertaining the notion of doing this, and won't.
Obsessive fan behavior has become such a part of actors' and directors' lives that it's even been parodied. #MarkHamill made a guest appearance as himself in a show (to be honest, I can't remember which) years ago. There, a character began pestering him with #StarWars questions. The actor - tired of fans approaching him to ask the same thing - eventually freaked out and responded:
"I don't want to talk about Star Wars!"
That right there is how most people working in the industry feel when asked about a past project while they're promoting a completely different one.
It also drives actors and directors away from the brands they made part of pop culture legend in another way: When fans get too proprietary over brands or characters, they tend to forget that it is the creator who controls the characters, not the other way around.
“Why would I make any more, when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?”
Granted, directors and actors should be open-minded when it comes to well-meaning feedback. But fans who associate a brand with their own personal identity so much project that inability to separate the two onto the creators themselves.
- James Gunn Wants Fans To Chill About Obsessing Over Sequels To Movies That Haven't Even Been Released Yet
- Chris Evans Reveals He's Willing To Stay On As Captain America - The Ball's In Marvel's Court!
- Arnold Schwarzenegger Will Be Back For The Next 'Terminator' And More
Yes, movies are a great escape and they can form a connection with us. But the attachment we might feel does not justify us marrying the helmer or the star to whatever becomes a hit. As glamorous as it seems on the surface, being in the movie industry is a job like any other.
It's an unstable structure and the people working in it need to be constantly moving and tackling different things to remain relevant. As fans, we have to accept that and stop shackling creators to their famous films and characters. Simply because we as fans can't move on doesn't mean the people involved haven't. Time to let them evolve as they were always meant to.