Payn's Ponderings; The problems with Prequels


Guest 7034872

I think you make a very good point here, payn, especially with point #1: a good backstory can do a lot to give a story depth and a delightful blend of explanation and mystery. That is all to the good. But most backstory only really works if it stays backstory. Turning it into the foreground narrative rarely works well, IME.
Prequels, meh. Amiright?
I think so. I mean, it's not impossible, but I've not seen many work well.

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I don't think prequels are inherently bad, but I do think they are harder to write. Its a bit anathema to the normal narrative experience, I tell you about a person....and then I tell you some more. Its not as often to go "okay now let me tell you about his past now that I finished the current story".

I do think consistency of tone is the number 1 place a lot of prequels go wrong. A prequel has to accept the box its in, both in terms of what happens later, but also the tone and theme of the works that have come before. I agree King's Man is a great example of this going horribly wrong, the prequel did not feel like a "Kingsman" movie to me, it felt like a completely different beast.

The other tricky part about Prequels is.... what question do I want to answer? With sequels there is an obvious, "what happens to the main character now?" But in a prequel we already know a lot of that. So what purpose is the prequel trying to serve. Maybe its filling in the gaps of a backstory. Perhaps its adding in the "why" element as to why the main character ultimately does the thing we know they are going to do. There are a number of ways to go about it, but I think its very important that a Prequel nails this question, because otherwise they can tend to meander as compared to sequels.


Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Even in the cases of decent prequels (Rogue One), they are unnecessary. They are stories that don't need to be told. We know the outcome. They are boring - pointless, Hollywood, cash-grabs. At their worst, they can detract from our enjoyment of the original films (looking at the Star Wars prequels, Clone Wars, et al), because they fail to understand what we loved about the first films.
So, no, I never want to see a prequel of any sort.
From another perspective, these movies actually drew me into SW. By the time I was born there wasn't so much to make them special anymore. The groundbreaking effects were already commonplace, everything and their dog had already imitated the themes and motifs, the first movie was too slow to open, and even the main twist from Empire had been spoilered and parodied to death. There was nothing special about Star Wars anymore that I couldn't get elsewhere. The prequels allowed my generation to have our own Star Wars and ease into the main movies, and allowed it to grow even bigger than before. They gave Star Wars something unique again, and it is seen as a coherent whole by fans younger than I.

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