The Messy Business of Retcons & Reboots

There’s a lesson that movies should have learned from comic books long ago, but somehow seems to have gotten lost along the way. Perhaps it’s hubris; overwhelming success leading the studios to believe they can avoid the trappings that plagues comics. Or perhaps it’s willful ignorance leading writers and directors down a path they can’t come back from. But I see the writing on the wall, and it does not bode well.

Kang the Conqueror sitting at his desk, from the show Loki.
TLDR? This guy was probably right.

Comics (superhero comics, specifically), you see, are convoluted and messy. There are so many ongoing stories, so many alternate universes, so many retcons, reboots, clones, and more, that it’s nearly impossible to just jump in and understand what’s going on. Or, if you’re a longtime reader, it becomes hard to truly care about the story and characters.

Why should I care if Batman dies? I know he’ll be back in a year or two. Or why should I care about this Spider-Man when I’ve seen that there are literally an infinite number of Spider-People in other universes?

You see where I’m going with this.

Both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Cinematic Universe are diving head-first into multiverse themes and plot lines. And I really really wish they wouldn’t.

Look. Was I thrilled by seeing Tom, Tobey, & Andrew on screen at the same time? Yes, of course I was. I loved it, I ate it up. I want a podcast with those three just talking about Spider problems. BUT do I like the implications? No, I do not.

The three Spider-Man actors: Tobey Macguire, Tom Holland, and Andrew Garfield.
The harbingers of doom.

Why should I care about Tom when I know Tobey’s out there if something should happen? Doesn’t it cheapen our Spider-Man by having other, perfectly valid Spider-Men out there? I mean, they even rewrote Tom’s Spider-Man so that no one even knows he’s Spider-Man anymore! (So…how did Aunt May die, then? Did an alternate universe Green Goblin still kill her? And no one asked any questions about that? But that’s another issue)

And same goes for Loki, Dr. Strange, Flash, Batman, and so many more. Why should I care if a character’s head gets exploded or someone gets turned into spaghetti when I know another version of them is probably right around the corner? Or why, when that one arrives, ostensibly our version, should I care about their fate when I know there are billions of others out there?

And this also goes the same for afterlife stuff. In Marvel, we’ve already seen 2 afterlives, with it stated that there are many more. We know that souls can exist after being damned, we know that the dead CAN return. So really, what are the stakes?

I mean, Loki DIED. We watched the life get choked out of him and exploded, but they brought in another version, turned him evil to good in ONE episode, and then just carried on as if he were the first Loki. It’s wild that they did that, much less pulled it off. We’ll see how season 2 goes, though.

And older versions, which weren’t canon in current movies, are suddenly canon again. They just exist in another universe. So if I liked Bale way more than Pattinson, who’s to say I’m not going to be annoyed that we’re not following Bale instead? Is it out of the question for me to expect to see Bale again one day?

The Knightmare timeline, with Ben Affleck's Batman and Jared Leto's Joker.
Please, whatever happens, for the love of god, no more of this.

Is it anticipated that this will happen? No, I don’t think people will be annoyed or even expect other Batmans to show up. But one could hardly argue it’s unreasonable. We know that Keaton is back in the new Flash movie, after all. Any previous incarnation is game now! I’m not even going to get into how the CW has gone bonkers with this idea. (RIP Arrow Universe…until it’s not anymore one day)

In summation, all I’m trying to say is that introducing multiverses, alternate version, and in-canon retcons & reboots is a messy and alienating practice. So far, it’s been tolerable, but as it continues, it’s going to spin out of control until it’s all retconned again, mark my words.

Still, Multiverse of Madness was pretty fun.

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness promotional picture with the characters facing the camera and displaying their powers.
But I have some thoughts. More on that another time.

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