I've had this Newspost in mind again since I saw Spider Man: No Way Home. That movie pushes the nostalgia buttons with abandon, to an extent I couldn't believe. To avoid having anything spoiled I rushed out to the theater to see it as soon as I could get there. It did not disappoint!
Of course, when producers/creators have a vision, and when a story and world can justify it, there's no reason the kind of fan nostalgia can't be delivered. The nostalgic elements and cameos worked because they were relevant to the story - powerfully relevant.
After the new Spider Man's huge success, I hear that the next movie, the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Magic flick, was doing a bunch of reshoots, possibly to fill it with cameos.
It might be fun, but if the cameos aren't relevant to the story (as they were in Spider Man), it's not going to be as fulfilling an experience. It might sell tickets in the short term, but might not deliver for fans or the studio in a bigger, lasting way. See the Star Wars sequel movies and the new Ghostbusters for nostalgia-baiting that kind of rang hollow for me.
I haven't been a big fan of the new Book of Boba Fett series, really. Something just hasn't been clicking. After the return of Luke Skywalker about a year ago, though, my Star Wars fandom had returned and I've been watching.
Last week's episode saw the Mandalorian come back - and along with him came a clean, strong story that I was riveted by.
Along with that, though, was a whole series of callbacks, references and nostalgia that went completely over my head:
The episode (boba fett episode 5) was chok-full of references to the Prequel Star Wars trilogy, especially episode 1. Since I'm not a Prequel fan at all (saw them only once), I missed all of it. Seeing the joy of Prequel fans later was what clued me in, and their pleasure and joy was great to see.
The fact that I didn't know the references well enough to remember didn't matter at all, as far as being engaged with the story.
That's good nostalgia! It's a wonderful experience for those in the know, but it doesn't take away anything from the story.
With the new episode 6 of Boba Fett, my mind was completely blown on multiple levels. I'll hold of on commenting in detail to avoid spoilers, and also because this post is running long. But it delivered and delivered and delivered for me, in terms of fandom, nostalgia, special effects, characters and story excitement.
The studios who own the big franchises have learned: nostalgia can equal profits. Hopefully the days of spitting in fans' faces is over. But it's not always easy to pull it off! Nostalgia can be done well, or it can be done badly.
Is the nostalgia just an amusement park-or-wax museum type of thing? Is it just “look at this character! Remember them?” In that case it might give some pleasure to the fans who remember - but I think the experience is very short lived and kind of empty. If the story doesn't MATTER…if there's nothing else to it but ‘member berries’… then it's nothing worth celebrating.
But there can be more to it than that. After a bleak period in franchise-nostalgia-pop culture for the past few years, we may have seen the reverse lately. An small fountain of nostalgia has been served to some fandoms in the past year or so. But it's been nostalgia that also serves story. The kind that lifts the spirit. The kind of experience that stays with you.
It's a beautiful thing!
Bye for now,
Banes at 12:00AM, Feb. 3, 2022
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