If you haven’t heard yet, Stargate is finally making a comeback! And I’m not talking about a reboot of the movie franchise, which has either been fully cancelled or at least postponed. Rather, this is the next ‘chapter’ in the SG-1 Universe.
…Except, it isn’t. Announced only a few days ago, it’s called Stargate Origins (click here to check the announcement on Gateworld.net.) It takes place…sometime before SG-1, though we don’t know when yet. And reportedly follows an adventure of young Catherine Langford as she defends Earth against an unimaginable darkness… More on why this is a problem for me further down.
Sci-Fi and the Prequel Trend
Back in 1999, George Lucas released the first Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace. At the time, I was extraordinarily excited about it, I’d always wanted to see those first three episodes, to see the origin story of Darth Vader, and, well, I was excited to see more Star Wars on screen.
What I didn’t know was the trend that it would begin…and that is a trend in Sci Fi that has endured for nearly 20 years.
Prequels. Though I don’t believe Phantom Menace was the first ever prequel, it was the biggest hit I’m aware of. Since then, here’s what we’ve seen…
- Star Trek Enterprise (followed by the 2009 Star Trek reboot, and now Star Trek Discovery.
- X-Men Origins and X-Men First Class
- Prometheus (prequel to Alien)
- The Thing
- Oz The Great and Powerful
And that’s just a small list of well-knowns. Now with Stargate Origins coming out, I find myself crying out “NOOOOO!” I for one have grown tired of prequels. Especially in Sci-Fi universes that are supposed to be about exploration and moving forward (Star Trek and Stargate both being examples.)
But why? Why is this continuing? Especially…well, do an experiment with me. Go to google.com and type in the search parameter “Why are prequels so popular?” I know that Google can tailor search results based on past browsing habits, but for me, the first 10 results talk about why the Star Wars prequels are so hated.
So if the first major prequel of a franchise was so horrible, once again, I have to ask…why is this trend continuing??
Theories of the Trend
One of the most common opinions I get when I ask people this question is “Hollywood can’t come up with anymore original ideas.” An interesting theory, but I wonder how true it actually is.
In fact, until recently, I didn’t really have a response except “maybe that’s true.” Until…Bright. The name of an upcoming, Netflix-produced movie, Bright is about modern-day Earth, with elves and orcs and faeries living side by side with us. Will Smith’s character is a police officer partnered with what appears to be a young orc. This is radically different from any major sci-fi/fantasy movie I’ve seen in recent years.
But it’s Netflix. It’s not a major motion picture studio, it’s a relatively brand new production studio. And I think this is a key point. Netflix broke the mold with movie rentals, and now is breaking the mold by producing it’s own TV shows and, now, movies. Like Amazon, Netflix seems to be all about trying new things, innovating, and moving its company in an unexpected direction. And it’s succeeding at it.
Major motion picture studios, however…it’s like an unknown author sending a manuscript to an agent or publisher. You’re a big, big risk. They are highly reticent to invest time and money into you, no matter how good your product is. So more likely than not, you’ll be rejected.
I think the same can be said about major motion picture studios and TV production studios. They want to invest money into something that has a proven history of making money. And even as reviled as the Star Wars prequels are, they made a ton of money. So prequels make money.
This, I think, is why we keep getting prequels and, for that matter, sequels, rather than truly original content.
This is also why I am becoming a big proponent of Netflix, and of self-publishing. It allows those with innovative or new ideas to get their ideas out there. They may not always succeed, but at least they can try.
Parting Thoughts on Stargate Origins
I’m really really sad about the direction they are taking to try to revive Stargate. I really want more Stargate, but a prequel? A prequel that, at least at first glance, blatantly ignores established timeline? For those who aren’t as familiar with it, before the Stargate was opened by Daniel Jackson in the motion picture, the Stargate was only opened one other time after it was unburied in Giza, with disastrous results. It was subsequently shut down for decades.
Yet this premise seems to indicate that Catherine travels through the Stargate, either before or after Ernest is stranded off-world, to confront some darkness that, apparently, SG-1 and the SGC are never made aware of.
In essence, it’s making the same mistake Star Trek and Star Wars made in their prequels: ignoring continuity.
Worse still, the series is being released as 10 episodes…each episode 10 minutes long. I can’t imagine why anyone thought this was a good idea…but then again…I’m kind of eating my own words now. I released 10 short stories which will later be compiled into an anthology (The Orc War Campaigns.) So…maybe this is a result of the trend of online and subscription based TV shows?
Anyway, I hope I’m wrong about Origins, but I really think this effort is going to fall flat on its face, and Stargate will once again be thrown into proverbial mothballs. :(
What are your thoughts about all of this?
Thanks for reading!