FOREWORD: This is a long article and most probably you will end up liking it if you are a fan of upcoming DC Extended Universe, Fox Marvel's X-Men Universe and of course the Star Wars franchise or if you are cinephile.
I'll get right to the point alright, I have never watched a Star Wars film! weird right? but yeah I do exist, so I practically know jack sh*t about the mythology and lore of Star Wars franchise I don't know anything about the recurring characters and their backstory, the universe so on and so forth.
But I am a living encyclopedia when it comes to all things DC and Marvel and thus I know how various strings are connected in The Dark Knight trilogy, Man of Steel, Marvel Cinematic Universe and Fox Marvel universe in a typical geek fashion.
But studios are not aiming for a niche market (comic book readers) they are global and wide scale with the majority of the consumers being general audiences, as in people who aren't comic books/novel readers and those who know nothing about the respective backstory so on and so forth.
I never had an opportunity to enjoy and deconstruct a franchise movie as a general audience because I was always a fan of that particular medium and I knew everything about that medium but I desperately wanted to know the general audience point of view when it comes to franchise movies and how they respond and react to movies like this and how good they are when it comes to connecting the dots and understanding the lore of a particular franchise, especially when they are starting from "in between" (for example, watching Furious 7 without watching any of the Fast and the Furious movies that came before F7)
So watching Star Wars The Force Awakens was a GOLDEN chance for me to understand the psychology of general movie going audience and I saw Episode 7 yesterday but you might be wondering why I am doing this..... well there are two reasons,
- WB/DC are launching DC Extended Universe this year and 20th Century Fox are putting more emphasize on expanding their cinematic universe to create a shared universe franchise like Marvel Studios and 2016 is the year when these two franchises takes off, so I wanted to know how general audiences will react/respond to these two franchises this year.
- I am a Game Designer (architect of immersive narrative experience) so researching and knowing about this will help me from a career/profession point of view as well (in an indirect way)
Now Let me Explain How Deadpool, Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice, X-Men Apocalypse and Suicide Squad will benefit From Star Wars The Force Awaken's success!
Before proceeding any further I'll just put forward some assumptions for this experiment of mine
- Majority aren't familiar with Man of Steel and this new version of Superman and his backstory and people aren't familiar with this extremely new take on Batman and of course people are not familiar with a bunch of "key characters" and major plot elements appearing in Batman vs Superman.
- Applying the same logic to movies like Deadpool, Suicide Squad and X-Men Apocalypse.
NOTE: Deadpool is famous among comic book readers but pretty unknown among general audiences and Suicide Squad is an alien concept to the general audiences and there are a ton of new and rebooted/re-imagined characters in X-Men Apocalypse.
This Is How We Are Going To Do It
It's very simple I'll just share my opinions/views on Star Wars The Force Awakens and how I reacted/responded to that film and what I understood about the Star Wars lore and mythology based on this one film and BOOM apply the same to those 4 movies mentioned above.
NOTE: I am not including Captain America Civil War and Doctor Strange in this experiment because Marvel Cinematic Universe was around for 7 years and they released 12 movies, goes without saying they've already won over general audiences all over the world by establishing their franchise in it's entirety over the course of their run.
My Short'n'Crisp Review on Episode 7. (Spoiler Warning)
To my noob perspective the plot of The Force Awakens was - "Resistance wants to find Luke Skywalker for obvious reasons and First Order wants to stop/destroy Resistance to prevent that"
The plot is super simple and understandable for general audiences because I got an impression that,
- First Order is like an evil tyrannical group that's hellbent on world rule and order under their ideals.
- Thus they want to destroy the resistance from finding Luke Skywalker to prevent an awakening in the force, which might result in strengthening the resistance even more and thus a potential threat for First Order and their ideals.
- There are many bastard children in Star Wars or people who are unaware of their parentage for the sake of twists and expanding a suspenseful character arc over the span of upcoming movies.
- Having new characters like Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren helped me in understanding this movie better.
- Establishing sequences really helped me understand that there is a big universe with different species with their own way of living and how First Order and Resistance fits into it.
- Force is some sorta magical thing that exists in the universe and chooses the worthy ones only and thus an acute shortage of force enabled powerhouses and why Supreme Leader Snoke wanted and brain washed Kylo Ren and also why they are stopping the resistance from finding Luke Skywalker.
- I knew nothing about Darth Vader but the emotional strength and performance in that interrogation scene between Rey and Kylo Ren was a standout for me in the entire movie as it shows how a regular scavenger resists and overpowers a truly powerful and intimidating villain and similarly in that climatic Rey vs Kylo light saber battle as well.
- I knew nothing about Han Solo and Gen. Leia but the way they interacted coupled with their performances and the specific dialogues they had convinced me that these people have a long history and also clarified their place in this movie, for me.
- But I hated the fact that Luke Skywalker went into hiding and didn't help the resistance in fighting or controlling an evil force that he was responsible for, I mean he would feel the guilt and regret but why would a noble/great person will go into hiding and leaves without dealing the mess he himself created?
As you can see I was able to catch the plot points and connect the dots and understand the mythology of this franchise pretty neatly because that's how the films are made to cater towards general audiences and I believe this is why Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, X-Men Apocalypse and Deadpool will do great this year, because all of them are heavily anticipated and they have crazy marketing campaigns but most importantly they have great talents involved in the making of those films.
So forget the concept of "there are way too many characters and subplots crammed into a movie, people will not understand and they will leave the theaters with confusion " because frankly speaking there were dozens of characters and a lot was going on but I never felt like they crammed so much into this movie, everything felt natural.
If the writing and direction is clever, a movie can accommodate as my characters and sub plots as it wants without damaging the quality of the movie or alienating general audiences.