The idea of a shared universe is not a new to comics but it’s unique to comics. Shared universe means that characters withing different books or shows live in the same world. For example Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Kora exist in the same world. Both shows share the same history only at different times within the shared universe. All of the Transformers cartoons exists within a shared universe only with each cartoon supposedly moving the “plot” forward. To most comic fans the concept of a shared universe is pretty simple. Spider-Man exists in the same world as Captain America and Iron Man which could lead to the occasional team-up. Just as Superman lives in the same world as Batman. You get the idea.
Once upon a time, this idea of a shared universe seemed impossible to do when translating comic characters to live action TV shows or movies. Cartoons are a different animal. Cartoons have smaller budgets because special effects isn’t an issue. With TV and movies, you have actors to pay, different writers and producers who may have a separate vision for the respective title. Special effects is a big issue as well. What it takes to make Superman fly and punch through walls will be very different than what it takes to make Spider-Man swing. Not to mention this all leading to the biggest, dumbest and most widely held the argument. The idea that people outside of comics would get confused or would not be able to follow such a universe. That argument comes with an unspoken implicit – ONLY COMIC BOOK FANS WOULD GET IT.
The argument is stupid.
Shared Universe – The Argument
We live in a time where advances in technology do not equal people psychologically catching up to those advances. We see this all the time, especially with TV and Movie executives. TV executives still count the outdated Nielson ratings. Advances in cable and digital technology makes it possible to literally count actual watchers. They act like the internet somehow doesn’t exist. Worse yet, they think they can count numbers the same way they did in the 1980’s.
This idea that a shared universe would be hard to pull off is exactly the same kind of thinking. It’s backward thinking. It’s quantifying an element of measurement without adding important factors. In the comic geek community, it’s the same logic as saying “comics are hard to get into because of all the years of stories.” In order to believe this argument, you have to completely ignore Google and Wikipedia. You have to pretend the information isn’t available. Worse yet, you have to pretend no one is going to look up that information. Because once you remember that search engines, blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos exist, both arguments break apart under the weight of their stupidity.
And this leads to bloggers and YouTube creators and critics saying completely mindless bullshit like:
“It would take me out the movie/TV show if they referred to something from another movie or TV show.”
“I don’t think the TV show should be connected to the movies because they should separate entities.”
“Non-comic fans would be confused if Daredevil referred to the Avengers.”
Seriously people, what the living fuck?
Shared Universe – Ignoring the Evidence
First of all, we need to go back to that thing about ignoring the reality of Google and Wikipedia. Before the days of search engines it would be a little hard to get into comics, but not impossible. I was buying comics as a very child but I did not actually read them until I was around nine or ten. It was 1972 before I actually started getting the story.
Comics existed for decades and I did not find it hard to figure out what was going on and the history behind it all. Even in a DC comic. Every fan comes into comics at different times. Comic geeks hold fast and perpetuate this myth that any new comic reader will have a hard time because of all those back stories. Publishers do this too. They are constantly rebooting and starting from #1 to “attract new readers.”
Many critics thinks it’s good thing Netflix Daredevil doesn’t try to connect to Marvel’s movies. Marvel Studio said this was their mission from the beginning. It’s not hard to find information on comic characters. Google and Wikipedia exists along with YouTube and Twitter.
Let’s not forget that CW’s DC-based superhero shows exist in a shared universe and they are some of the most popular shows on television. The general audience is not going insane because Flash refers to something big that happened in Arrow or if Flash and Supergirl team up. Marvel’s the Avengers was a success because it took characters from separate movies and brought them together. Yet DC decided to make their TV shows separate from the movies, split Supergirl and Flash into separate Earths. At least there’s some logic to making the TV shows separate from the movies. Marvel, on the other hand, takes this to a mind-numbing level.
When Aliens Attack
I seriously want to bitch-slap people who say “The Marvel TV Shows needs to be or should be separate from the Movies.” In order to back-up this idiotic argument you have to display cognitive dissonance on a third-grade level. Marvel Studios made it clear from the first time they announced Iron Man that they plan to create a shared universe. Even if characters have their own movies or TV shows, they exist in the same world. Every time Marvel moves forward with that plan everyone – including Marvel – take three steps back with nay-saying or hesitation.
In Avengers aliens invaded New York and a group of Super Heroes banded together to publically fight those aliens. Super-Hero shows and movies continue this ridiculous conceit that they are trying to be “realistic.” (Don’t even get me started on that brain-damaged chestnut.) Then in the Netflix shows they dance around that happening. The call it “the incident” as if the whole thing is Voldemort so you better now say it’s name out loud.
How the flying fuck is that “realistic?”
If Super Heroes Existed
What would the reaction in the real world be if super heroes fought aliens in the middle of 34th Street?
Who would realistically not talk about that for years and years? How wouldn’t it be passed around as YouTube or Facebook video snippets forever? Just the increase in the budgets of any organization with the word “space” in it would shoot up. Why? Because New York was attacked by fucking aliens and real live super people fought against them and won. Holy shit that would be the subject of at least every kid’s conversation for probably ever.
So what’s the problem with call it an Alien invasion? Why can’t people be concerned that the Avengers created a Terminator that murdered a lot of people? Wouldn’t corporations start throwing money into their own super hero research? The Avengers are now a well-known paramilitary force that included a god, an extremely powerful green guy and a guy who lived through being frozen since the end of World War II. How is it realistic that these things would not be a topic of everyday conversation along with Game of Thrones and Superbowl commercials?
The Netflix characters live in that world. They all have super powers but they have to live their lives in the city that just had an alien invasion and super heroes. It makes no sense that these things aren’t a part of their conversation. No one would call an alien invasion “the incident.” If you’re going for realism then realistically we would no more dance around these incidents any more than we dance around 9/11.
BS Internal Conflicts
I saw Warner Brothers force a barber shop to take down a Tazmanian Devil painting from their store sign. The barber shop wasn’t a chain shop or franchise. Just a little barber shop in Brooklyn named Tazmanian with the character painted over it. Disney is notoriously protective of everything they own and they go after copyright and trademark violations like the Simpsons eat dinner.
So why the hell can’t they get Ike Perlmutter under control? In 2015 the conflict between Marvel Studio’s TV and movie division became public in the of everyone on the internet and in news programs made it a topic. This Ike Permutter was trying to exert control over the movies by literally cutting their budget. He’s the reason why Agents of Sheild keeps being wonky about connecting to the movies and why the comics killed the Fantastic Four and keeps trying to replace the X-Men with the Inhumans.
Ike Permutter has become the reason why Mavel TV acts like it’s not part of the shared universe. Disney owns all of these properties. Agents of Shield tends to fail because they keep trying to run away from being a super hero shows that’s part of a super hero universes. From the sound of things, it’s obvious that Permutter is a dickhead.
Why a Shared Universe?
Shared universes work, it’s just that simple. It opens any property to interesting stories and possibilities. There’s money making potential and you can combine fans of different properties and create interesting events. Audiences love crossovers. That’s why Dracula vs the Wolf Man or King Kong vs Godzilla is so cool. People who speak against a shared universe act as if doing it would limit the writing and that’s just more bullshit. This was the Edgar Wright argument when he left Ant-Man and we all saw how that turned out. Mostly because it’s the sign of the times. Yesterday you could have kind of/sort of shared universes, today the shared universe is what everyone except the executives in charge of this wants. Just give it to them.