NOTE: This isn’t tied to anything else I’m doing or working on now, this is just me spitting venom.


I’m going to go out on a limb here: if someone, be it a movie studio or a publisher or whatever, is trying to sell you a prequel, they only want your money.

Often times, sequels are bad enough money grabs, but at least there’s potential for something there.  There’s potential to expand on an already existing story, to try something you haven’t tried before.  Prequels?  There’s no such luck.  A criticism I’ve often heard in the Science vs. Creationism argument is that Creationism starts with a conclusion, then re-writes science and the world around them to fit that conclusion.  Prequels are like that.  They’re creative creationism, starting with a foregone conclusion (what we already know in the original) and re-writing everything in the story with that ending in mind.

Granted starting a story with the ending isn’t a bad idea in itself because it can give you something to write towards, but really the ending should be more of an outline.  Writing is tricky.  If you let it, sometimes things can take on a life of their own and by the end of it, your characters and stories may surprise you.  Writing a prequel?  That ending has to be set in stone.  You have to end up there no matter what else took place before.

And like I said, while most sequels have diminishing returns, there’s at least potential for some new ideas.  A prequel?  It’s just a studio or a publisher selling you what they’ve already sold you.  But here’s my question: does it really pay off for the studios or publishers?  The “Star Wars” prequels may have been financially successful, but critically there’s never been less faith in the Lucasfilm brand (the tepid opening of “Red Tails” proved that).  Both versions of “The Exorcist” prequels were failures“Terminator Salvation” was easily the worst-received “Terminator” film.  And DC’s announcement of the “Watchmen” prequels (the reason I’m writing this post) has already earned the ire of their already dwindling audience.

Most prequels, you can roll your eyes and get on with your life.  It’s taken time, but it’s finally gotten to the point where the awfulness of the “Star Wars” prequels no longer hurts my love for the originals.  But the announcement of the “Watchmen” prequels feels especially egregious, for this simple reason:

Prequels are designed to tell the back-stories that were only hinted at in the original (even though our imaginations undoubtedly made them better).  There’s no need to do that with “Watchmen” because the original already did that!  That was the whole point of the story!

Part of the brilliance of “Watchmen” is not just the story that was written, but how it was written, and how it made the medium of the graphic novel shine.  A big theme with “Watchmen” was the nature of time, and how the story was told reflected that.  It told the story in a non-linear fashion, just like the non-linear perceptions and existence of the character Doctor Manhattan.  It was split into twelve issues, like the twelve numbers on the face of a clock.  And in the final issue, when all of the events culminated to their eventual crescendo, the clock literally and figuratively ran out.  We spent our time with these characters (seeing their lives and how they played out), and that time ended.

The arc words in “Watchmen” was “Who watches the watchmen?”.  I ask “Who profits from prequels?”