HitFix reports on the idea of “the age of fan fiction” in American movie-making by examining The Muppets and The Avengers. The idea is based upon the fact that so many films (and TV series) made now are reboots, remakes, reimaginings, and retellings. The author contrasts Indiana Jones and Star Wars, which were original ideas based upon scenes a faire from old serials, with modern movies and series, including the animated Clone Wars series. The author states that the makers of the Clone Wars series are living the “Star Wars fan dream,” in that they get to write new adventures for characters from their favorite movies. (Although, seeing as how they have to work with Anakin but not Han, it may not be the pinnacle of the Star Wars fan dream.)
The article is well-written and presents an analysis well worth reading. However, I will admit that I thought the article was going to go in a much different direction, especially when the author began by referencing the new film The Muppets. The author began by relating an anecdote about how fellow HitFix writer and all-around great TV reviewer Alan Sepinwall called The Muppets “the greatest work of fan fiction [he’s] ever seen.” From there, the author wrote about how fans of works are now using the characters and settings they love movies/shows they are writing. I thought, however, that the article was going to focus on how many adaptations play fast and loose with established characters, engage in “human focused adaptations,” or introduce new characters.
I enjoyed The Muppets a lot. Not as much as some people, but it was a funny movie that earned (most of) its emotional beats. But I had two problems with it. The minor one was Chris Cooper rapping. More importantly, I did not like Walter. At all. Unfortunately, the character is very much a Mary Sue/Poochie. He is a brand new… I hesitate to say “character” because he doesn’t have much of one. Everyone in the movie takes an instant liking to him, and Kermit places a lot of faith in his ability to perform in a telethon crucial to the Muppets’ continued existence, despite having no reason to do so. And of course, he succeeds in being awesome after spending most of the movie doing nothing but being a helpless fanboy. To me, The Muppets can be seen as a fan fiction film because of the insertion of this kind of character; not quite an author avatar for Jason Segel, but Segel’s creation did get to step in and help (almost) save the day.