13 moments that utterly destroyed franchises, or foretold their doom:
13- The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Jurassic Park franchise ground to a halt along with the screeching brakes of a subway train. For some reason, Spielberg thought it would be a good idea to cut from a woman screaming at the sight of her daughter being attacked by small dinosaurs to Ian Malcolm yawning with a horrible screeching noise, in front of a poster that made it look briefly like he was present on the island. This inexplicable nonsense was jarring enough to take viewers out of the film and never let them back in.
12- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
For many, Jar Jar Binks was the downfall of the franchise. For others, it was the midichlorians. For me, it was all fine until The Force Awakens. But one moment stands out as the low point in the entire franchise and although Star Wars lasted for some time after that with peaks and valleys, there was no valley lower than C3P0′s head being dragged behind R2D2 and saying, “What a drag.” C3P0 had become the Jar Jar of Episode II, if not worse. In the middle of an epic battle sequence that was at the top of Star Wars form, we got the worst pun ever.
11- Star Trek Into Darkness
Like Episode II, Into Darkness ranks lower in the standings that it might for some fans because of the place it takes in the series. For Episode II, it’s low on the list because the series survived for some time after, and had already alienated many. For Into Darkness, there are two factors: First, it’s not part of Star Trek, it’s part of Abrams Trek, a follow up homage to Star Trek, which jumped many sharks but never did fully nuke the fridge before it ended with Star Trek: Insurrection. Similarly, Star Trek Beyond marked an upturn rather than a lingering in the depths. Still, the inverted Khan howl was a very nukely moment.
10- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Can a series nuke the fridge when it began and continued from the start at fridge nuking quality? If it’s possible, Transformers did it with the addition of two pendulous wrecking balls for one of the large piles of metal it called Transformers. Were it a better franchise this might rank higher, but the vulgarity was at least somewhat mitigated by John Turturro’s commentary. Mileage may vary, for many that’s the worst part.
9- Batman and Robin
This is probably too low for Batman fans, but the nipples themselves were merely the overture at the start of an ongoing insult. The Batman films had already taken a huge step down after Burton’s departure and Schumacher’s finale was surely one of the worst disasters in modern cinema, but it was really the entire film that manifested as the disaster rather than a single fridge nuking moment. Of course, if an entire movie can be such a thing, this would be one of the top contenders.
8- The Legend of Zorro
The Mask of Zorro had such potential. It’s a great movie, one of the best of its kind. Its sequel was a mess in every way, but there was one moment that killed the franchise completely. Zorro rides his horse onto a train and that’s fine. But as the train turns, the horse looks ahead, and its eyes grow like a cartoon. The movie is not a cartoon. But the horse’s eyes are. This is beyond an Austin Powers moment. No more Zorro movies were made.
7- Lady in the Water
M. Night Shyamalan is not exactly a franchise but he was on course with his first two major releases to being the next Hitchcock, or something completely new. With his second set of two, he declined severely but there was still hope. Lady in the Water ended that hope and delivered us into the realm of The Happening and the Last Airbender. It’s finale was an embarrassment that proved Shyamalan was incapable of lightening up. He took it all so seriously it became a joke. He doesn’t seem to show any signs of learning.
6- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Another instance of a slow burn that exploded, The Lord of the Rings films were great. The first two Hobbits were okay. The third Hobbit was pretty bad but once Legolas jumped from falling rock to falling rock in a display that would feel fake in an episode of Scooby-Doo, it was over. What had started as one of the great franchises in film, taken from one of the great franchises in literature, had become the worst imaginable disaster. Or at least the 6th worst.
5- Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
DC was riding high with Nolan’s Batman series. It had hope with Snyder’s Man of Steel. But in abandoning Nolan’s knight and casting Ben Affleck, DC showed its new face. It was bad. The whole movie was just awful. But it wasn’t until the great promised rivalry between Batman and Superman ended because their mothers happened to have the same name that it became one of the most disgusting cop-outs in cinema, and secured DC’s future in a hell of bad movies.
4- Alien 3
Alien 3 and Resurrection have some neat stuff but they’re nowhere near on par with the first two by any stretch of the imagination. Really, they didn’t have any chance to be, plagued with an uncaring studio and an impossible mission- To follow Aliens. How to follow such an epic is unknown, but we know for certain that killing everyone’s favorite new characters form the last movie is not it. The rest of the movie killed the quality of the franchise by going average ala Jurassic Park 3, but it was the deaths of Newt and Hicks that killed any chance it had of being accepted.
3- Die Another Day
Bond had a great resurgence with Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. The World is Not Enough wasn’t too bad. But the cartoon that was Brosnan’s 4th film as the character was so bad it killed a 20 film franchise that had to be unplugged and rebooted. The centerpiece to it all was the cartoon glacier surfing scene, which saw many a face meeting many a palm in theaters. There’s not much else to say. 20 films led up to that.
2- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
This is where several audience members asked out loud when the real movie would begin. The Terminator was phenomenal. T2 was deuterophenomenal. It was all just phenomenal. And then this happened. The Terminator had become a joke, a cheap gag. Fanfiction and not in the good way. Everything about the film was an insult, from turning “no fate” into “this is our fate” to the novelty glasses above, it wasn’t enough that the series die. It had to die horribly. Salvation failed to save it, and Genisys failed to reboot it, adding insult to injury. The rights are heading back to James Cameron however, and ironically if there’s any franchise that embodies hope for the future, it’s Terminator.
1- Do you have to ask?
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was to have been a dream come true for fans of the greatest action film of all time. Lucas was back, Spielberg was back, Ford and Allen were back. Hopes were high. So high. Then the CG rodent appeared and they were diminished. Then the fridge got nuked and all hope was gone. Then Shia LaBeouf began swinging through the trees and a new era in cinematic shame began. The masters had fallen. The franchises were all finally lost. The incident was so horrible that the film lexicon gained a new term. It had none before to encapsulate how much had gone wrong.
These are the nukings of the 13 fridges of modern moviedom. Each is a disaster, but together, from 1997 to 2017, they represent two decades that changed cinema forever. They were the dawn of the reboot, and the condemnation of the mainstream to playing things safe. Far too safe to do much good, and far too inept to correct its own mistakes:
Recovery is not guaranteed. We can hope, and we can fight for creative, high quality film and try to make something new, but the world is timid now and will not accept anything like that for some time to come.
Short of a miracle, I maintain that change will not come from within, but from somewhere new.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Photoshop.
Final one in the set.
Turns out I can be quite productive on a rainy day. Wasn’t sure on this one, though - Think I like it better without the outline of Indy (so it’s just the landscape) but then it wouldn’t really fit in with the other 3. Mind you, I guess you could argue this film didn’t really fit in with the other 3, as it was a bit rubbish. Ouch.
Had a great weekend at Nuke the Fridge Con with most of my Bat family. Most of us were out of costume or in variations of ourselves. I need to rest up because next weekend I have the Batman ‘89 midnight showing in Los Angeles as “movie premiere Harley Quinn” and the rest of the weekend at Long Beach Comic Con as the Clown Princess running around and causing mayhem.
We went with an Avengers theme. Captain ‘Merica and Black Widow. We left before the cosplay contest. (Cons are much more difficult when your hung over just for the record. :P) But we ran into these two and they were kinda awesome. :)
For the love of all that’s vigorous and scintillating, “fridging” does not merely mean that a woman has been killed in a story. The term has a very specific meaning, and when you broaden it to leave that meaning behind, you both a) ignore the problem the term was meant to engage with, and b) begin to set women apart from the consequences and possibilities that apply to the other characters around them.
I need to be clear about something– I’m not here to put force fields around any category of character; the drive for equality means I want to smash all the pedestals. Everyone gets to do everything, everyone gets to be everything, everyone gets to reap the consequences. My commitment is to try not to replicate any more insulting, outdated, unexamined tropes in my work… not to never upset you. Certainly not to promise never to allow harm to come to a certain class of character.
THERE ARE NO–
OKAY. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS EXCEPT ONE GENERAL CATEGORY THAT IS MOSTLY EXCEPTED BECAUSE COME THE FUCK ON. KITTIES.