Friday, July 08, 2011

Prequel ideas

So recently my wife and I have been catching up on Caprica. We missed it during its first run on tv, but are both fans of BSG, and I've been really enjoying it so far. I know its not as great as BSG, but for my money, its really not bad, just different. Also, I appreciate that they're not trying to do another BSG show with Caprica.I like the fact that with Caprica they at least tried to break the mold. Of course that all goes back to square one with Blood and Chrome, but I give them props for trying something out of the box.

Watching this really involved prequel got me thinking about other stories that could benefit from a good involved prequel. Now, part of the problem intrinsically with prequels is that usually the story is picked up when it does because the backstory gives depth, layering, and if you went into it there might not be too much there. But I'm not talking about something quick here, I'm suggesting that there are some stories that have compelling enough backstories hinted at that could be built out into a cool ongoing series, or miniseries. Of course that's not to say it would be done well. We all know how the Star Wars prequels worked out and they were quite literally born out of a single line about Luke's father and Ben Kenobi fighting in the Clone Wars. But lets still have some fun and speculate on what could be. Here are some of my picks for good prequel candidates. Please note though that my thoughts on these are spoiler heavy, and VERY in-depth geeky, so be warned :)

AKIRA - Ok, so I know the manga has a lot more to the story than we saw in this classic 1988 film, but I haven't read that and my guess is you haven't either. From what I can tell as well, even the manga doesn't go too much into the backstory. What we know from the film though is that it all started with Akira, a little boy with incredible psychic power. He, probably unintentionally destroyed Tokyo in 1988 (in the manga it was in 1992, but for the film, they changed the destruction date to the very day the film opened), and then was captured, cryogenically frozen and woken up 31 years later by Tetsuo, only to cause the destruction of Neo-Tokyo. Now I love Kaneda as much as the next guy but this prequel could practically write itself. Set it immediately after the destruction of Tokyo. Imagine the immediacy of a just destroyed megacity, the fight for survival, the struggle for power, maybe the rise of the biker gangs among the lawless ruins, and everyone looking to capture and control this one little boy. That could be a great story, especially as a cool live action series. Hopefully we'll get something if the planned live action film ever gets made.

Transformers - Call me sentimental but I have a soft spot for giant metal alien robots kicking the crap out of each other. Through the life of the various tv series, movies, games, comics,and yes even novelizations of the TF lore there have been a number of different versions of the backstory for the Transformers. And while there have been some attempts to reconcile the varying continuities the main historical points are similar. A race of giant sentient robots was created on an alien world long long ago, eventually they took control of the world and split into two factions, the Autobots and the Decepticons, and since then they have been trying to kill each other, with their battle eventually spilling over to Earth. What I'd love to see out of an animated Transformers prequel series is finally some context for The Great War. The biggest problem with the Transformers is that there is almost never any discussion of ideology. Why the hell are they actually fighting? The explanations of simple power, and control aren't very satisfying. My vote is to run with the current continuity, meaning Transformers the War for Cybertron game, and the Transformers Prime tv series, and give us a look at the start of the Great Cybertronian War, and the origins of Optimus and Megatron's personal conflict, as seen in the prequel novel Transformers Exodus. Despite really wanting a return to the Beast Wars universe, this could be something pretty damn cool.

The Dark Crystal - Ok, so follow this with me for a second. The Dark Crystal's protagonist may be just a Gelfling, but it also features the good Mystics (actually named the UrRu) and the Skeksis. These two races are actually both two halves of another race the Urskeks, who appear at the end of Henson's classic 80s fantasy film. The Urskeks are actually higher enlightened beings (supposedly) who while trying to use the Crystal of Light to literally burn out their remaining imperfections in their souls split themselves into two halves of a whole, good and evil. then during the ensuing fight with themselves the crystal was shattered became the Dark Crystal, and started our story in the film a mere 1000 years later. My thought though is to follow the shard itself, that's the key. How did the shard end up with Aughra, who is she, and how did the world of Tra become what it is? We know that the Skesis sought to destroy all of the Gelflings since there was a portentous prophecy of a Gelfling one day destroying the Skesis empire, and we also know that there were 18 mystics / skeksis to start with, but only 10 when the film opens, there is definitely more to this story than we've seen. And yes I know about Toykopop's Legends of the Dark Crystal comic, but I've only read the first volume of that, so they may have tread on some of this ground there. With that though this is definitely something I think could be a cool story to finally get some insight into. This one might work best as an ongoing comic, and we may even get some of it in Archaia's planned comic series which is set to be at least partly a prequel. Conversely, the long in development Power of the Dark Crystal film is slated to be a sequel. Oh well, at least we're getting something new.

The Neverending Story - So not to get too lost in Germanic philosophy, the eternal return, or anthroposophic thought, but The Neverending Story is an amazing movie. I really have to read the book one of these days, I know everyone loves it, but its just one of those things that has slipped past me over the years. The movie however is close to my heart. I am basically discounting the sequels, tv series, or animated series as non cannon here because really aside from Jonathan Brandis, can you remember anything about any of the sequel films? Me either, although I have a sneaking suspicion that they are all terrible. Ok so I know its an oxymoron to ask for the origins of a neverending story, but really that's what I'd like to see. Where, when and how did pure belief become manifest into the world of Fantasia. Who created the AURYN, and of course the book itself. Id expect something pretty 'meta' here, but hopefully they could keep it action fantasy orientated too. We need more good family films like this could be. Apparently there is a reboot of the 80s film in the works slated for 2014, hopefully this one will keep some of the same magic that made the original great.

Firefly - Of course this one was coming. Anyone who'se seen Firefly or Serenity though should know that it was a story with great potential that was cut tragically short. I'd love to see a reinvisioning of this universe and what better place to do that than during the great Unification war. In the Firefly lore, the Unification War saw the outlying planets and moons, the ones deepest in the black, try to resist Alliance control over their worlds to little success. The fighters for freedom were of course the browncoats, and the final battle of the war, The Battle of Serenity Valley is where Mal meets Zoe in the story. I'd propose a whole new series though, about the soldiers during this war, the browncoats, the Independents fighting for their little scrap of lawless backwater and honestly not include any of the original Firefly storyline or characters, just the 'Verse. You see the thing about Firefly that made fans flock to it, especially after it was dead and buried was the heart. Joss Whedon has a knack of creating families on his shows and no where is it more apparent than in Firefly where he created what some consider the best television show ever in 14 short episodes. This heart is exactly whats needed in a new prequel series, something that should be easy to build between soldiers on the frontline.

Ok, well those are 5 ideas for prequels that I think would all work great. A few bonus ideas for stories warranting prequels are Time Bandits, and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. What are some of your prequel ideas?

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