Making a Successful Crossover

Hey all. Your favorite washed up author has returned for another lengthy post about cruel yet seductive mistress of writing. You know, whenever anyone write’s anything, it is inevitably heavily influenced by great works of art from the past. Fantasy shows heavy influence of Lord of the Rings, horror is still populated with staples of Stoker’s Dracula, Star Trek and Star Wars both revolutionized the science fiction genre and so forth. Many of us would love to see our creations walk amongst their elders, going on a journey with the characters that helped make them real. Sometimes these ideas are able to make it into an official piece of media in books, comics, films and video games.

But doing a crossover is a tricky business. The primary hurdle is now you have two or more fan bases to satisfy instead of just one. Someone who is a fan of one series may not be a fan of the other, the two may have conflicting styles or even come from opposing genres. To satisfy all fan bases is the key to any successful crossover, because if you lose one, you lose a good portion of your audience. For all those out there who are lucky enough to ever create an official crossover, here are a few pointers for you.

One is to make sure whatever match you put together works well. In the case of King Kong vs. Godzilla, the two title characters couldn’t have been a better fit. Even after the countless decades of horror and science fiction films that preceded this one, these two were still the most well known monsters in the world.

There were other well known monsters, sure, but consider a crossover between Godzilla and the Wolf Man. It…probably wouldn’t have worked out very well. This makes sense with other properties as well. Ideas like John McClane going to Middle Earth may sound fascinating on paper and offer a plethora of possibilities, but a story like that will probably only have a ver niche audience.

Plus we know it’s Indiana Jones that needs to go to Middle Earth.

Another key to a successful crossover is making sure there is a demand for it. Freddy vs. Jason may not be a terribly great film, but it was a film that audiences had demanded for nearly over a decade. Ever since the cliffhanger ending of Jason Goes to Hell where Freddy had a cameo, everyone had assumed that would be the next installment of either franchise. When the promised film never came, the expanded universe took over creating comic books, novels and even figure collections pitting the two horror icons against each other.

The strategy proved to be very lucrative financially. It was clear that people wanted a crossover between these two, so New Line Cinema delivered. Any number of arguments can be made about the quality of the film, but it was the most financially successful of any of the Freddy or Jason movies.

Aliens-vs.-predator-2-game

The final tip, and this is the most important one of all, is to make sure that all fans leave your crossover happy. Now many can say this isn’t possible, especially in the case of crossovers pitting two icons against each other. Someone has to win, right? Well, the easy answer is that all can walk out as victors. The Aliens vs. Predator franchise boasts some of the best, and worst crossovers in recent memory.

Starting as an in-joke in Predator 2, the crossover series between Alien and Predator quickly became a central element in the expanded universes for both series. This property peaked with the Aliens vs. Predator video games, in particular the titles from 1999 and 2001. Especially impressive of all was the attention and respect that was given to both while still delivering the bloodbath audiences demanded. This was achieved by creating a ‘hero’ Alien and Predator the audiences could root for, with a slew of ‘bad’ Aliens and Predators to be killed by the player.

With this approach, both fan bases got what they wanted. They could see their favorite monster duke it out with their chief rival and come out victorious. The plots of the games also gave each side a decisive victory. In AvP 2 for example, the Aliens reclaim their home world from invasion and the come out of their hunt alive. This is how you do it. Unfortunately, as does this crossover series contain some of the best examples, it also contains some of the worst.

I’ve made my thoughts on Aliens vs. Predator Rectal Exam-I mean Requiem very clear in the past. This is a requiem alright. Requiem for a franchise. Gone was the balanced portrayal and respect for both characters. Both of the crossover films, in particular the second one, ushered in a new era for this bit of EU, one that was marked by blatant Predator fan service.

The influence of both these films has been nothing but a detriment to the series. The skills and intelligence of the Alien were significantly downplayed for the sole purpose of making them easier to curb stomp. This indirectly diminished the Predator by pitting them against ever weaker foes, making their so called victories far less impressive than the desperate battles of before. This strategy turned away fans from both camps for that very reason, and the only time most fans think about either of these movies is when trying desperately to forget them.

Now, in the world of fan fiction, you can do whatever you want. When it comes to an officially licensed product however, these are the three big things everyone should remember. Make sure the crossover works, if it does work make sure there’s an audience, and above all else, don’t alienate the people who come to see it. If you follow these three rules, your pairing may be a worthy entry in the eyes of its fans.

Now when will someone be doing Indiana Jones & The Return of the King?

 

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