Okay, can someone tell me what's up with this whole prequel fervor?
I'm thinking about it because of this
and also because last night, I saw an ad for a Scooby Doo prequel movie of all things.
Sometimes prequels are fun. But usually they're more fun in book form, where you don't have to deal with a replacement cast that doesn't look anything or act anything like the original.
But a lot of prequels just spoil it. I mean, granted Ewan MacGregor is awesome, but honestly, the Star Wars prequels pretty much RUINED Darth Vader as a villain. (And I say that as someone who genuinely liked Phantom Menace.)
Sometimes it can work for mysterious characters. I thought the Wolverine prequel comics tend to do a good job in providing glimpses of backstory. The Wolverine movie somehow didn't work for me. Maybe it's just that I imagined things more traumatic than how they turned out, but the fact that he voluntarily entered into it because of the dead girlfriend, even KNOWING the kind of people who he was dealing with, well, it didn't really work for me. And the rest of his backstory might have been compelling in explaining why he is as he is, but honestly, I've watched Highlander the Series religiously as a kid. And Duncan MacLeod managed to have about as equally traumatic life without becoming a total asshole (most of the time.).
The difference for me might be in whether a prequel is meant to provide glimpses into a character's life before we meet them, or whether it's designed to "explain everything" or show exactly how they got to the point they are today. In the first, we see tantalizing snippets, which don't need to completely mesh with the current interpretation but still manage to be recognizable. In the latter, well, it tends to fall flat. Because of their serial nature, I think comics are best at the first, because they can always provide more glimpses and snippets as time goes on. Movies though, have such a finite time to work, that I suspect that the creators feel they need to shove every possible thing in there.
The best prequels take into account that we don't need to see EVERY point between A and Z to be interested, or that we don't need to focus directly on the guys we've seen already. I actually kind of thought the Star Wars prequels would have worked better if it were focused on characters other than Obi-Wan, or Anakin. Seeing that rise to power from a completely outside perspective of a doomed character would have been so much more interesting. We knew what would happen with Obi-Wan or Anakin, after all. What if the story had been entirely focused on one of the cannon fodder Jedi we saw massacred in Revenge of the Sith? Or maybe some Republic officers? Or if it must be people that we recognize, why not pick characters that didn't get a lot of development in the later series to focus on? Like Owen Lars. Or Bail Organa. Granted, we know what'll happen to them too, but it would have been less obvious how they got there. And Darth Vader would still get to keep some damn mystery.
And really, some things just don't need prequels at all. Like Dumb and Dumber, for example. Do we really need to know how two idiots met? And for Scooby Doo, I always just figure that they had a talking puppy and instead of milking the fame like normal people, they decided to solve bad mysteries instead.
I don't know if Aliens would benefit from one or not. I mean, isn't the franchise best when they're killing people in shocking manner, and Sigourney Weaver is taking names? There obviously wouldn't be a Ripley here, which is strike one, but also things are always a little less scary when you know more about them.
Of course, I could be wrong. Sometimes prequels can be awesome, after all. And the first time that the aliens go apeshit on humans could be a lot of fun. We'll see.
(I have to admit, I really like the idea in the comments of the post, about setting it up so that the HUMANS are the scary monstrous invaders and making the aliens sympathetic. But that could backfire pretty easily, too, so it would need to be done CAREFULLY.)