Everything has fans. From wildlife, to trains, to pictures someone somewhere will love it and spend a healthy (or unhealthy depending on how you look at it) amount of time devoted to their chosen subject. Fans come in all shapes and sizes and tend to range from, ‘meh’ to ‘I would gladly step on my mother’s face to get the latest Harry Potter DVD.’ My point is everyone cares about something, whether it be sports or the dreaded Justin Bieber, they all have fans that have devoted their lives to the subject and will defend them at length.
Nerdy subjects take up a large portion of fanboy/girlness and have some of the most dedicated fans on the planet and that got us at WOTN thinking who has the most fans and the types of things us loveable geeks will go through for our passions. With this in mind I’m going to pit a number of the biggest Nerdy subjects against one another in a couple of popularity contests to see who comes out on top. Of course I will have an opinion on each of these subjects but I will attempt to remain subjective until the end. So, without further ado let’s get it on……………
Twilight vs. Harry Potter
Teen literature is at an all-time high at the moment, but without doubt these two are the biggest. Don’t get me wrong, the Hunger Games trilogy is coming up fast and the fact that younger fans are quite fickle I imagine that in a couple of years we will be talking about two different franchises with no mention of them, but for now here we are. So let’s look at some stats
Harry Potter – 7 Books, 8 Movies, 2 theme parks, around 15 video games, more merchandise than you can shake a wand at and as a brand is worth an estimates £15 billion.
Twilight – 4 Books, 5 Movies, rumoured video game in production, Movies have grossed over £2 Billion worldwide with one still to come, Over 150 million books sold worldwide.
Alright, I admit it is a little unfair to compare the two. With just a few stats it is clear that the Potter franchise out does Twilight by almost three times. That’s mainly due to the fact there is so much more stuff available surrounding Potter. However that doesn’t mean the fans of Twilight are any less committed, case and point:-
But, having said that:-
However I think there is more to it than that. With Harry Potter, J.K Rowling has created an entirely new universe, behind our own, for her stories to take place in making the story possibilities endless, as if bringing the Star Wars universe to earth. As opposed to Twilight which is simply a softer look at a genre that is meant to terrify people. The one thing Twilight has over Potter is the cast. Due to the fact that it was aimed more at a teen audience the cast was older and became sex symbols, whereas the stars of the Potter franchise were seen more as lovable child actors. But this has also been a bonus for Harry Potter as their world of witches and wizards is suitable for everyone, from the very young to the very old, boosting sales a ridiculous amount.
Winner: Harry Potter
Twilight lost me when we saw the vampires sparkle in the sun whereas the Potter films/books just got better and better. I think this sums my feelings up on the subject nicely.
Star Wars v. Star Trek
Now, on to more important matters. This is an argument that has gone on since long before I was alive and I’m sure that goes for most of you reading this as well. Fans of these two franchises are some of the best and most dedicated in the business of fanaticism. The two subjects have a lot in common, both set in space, both full of English speaking aliens and both have their own internal arguments. In Star Trek, is it the original or the next generation? With Star Wars do you accept the prequels or not? Whatever fence you come down on, if you are into any of these two brands, the chances are you are very passionate about them.
Star Wars – First released in 1977, 6 Movies with a few spin offs, 1 TV series on to its 6th season with a live action series coming in a couple of years, Hundreds of books, more merchandise than you can hope to imagine, a ride at Disney world, an epic amount of video games.
Star Trek – First released in 1966, 2 main series with multiple seasons and 4 spin off (including animated) series each with many seasons, 11 movies with another out next year and they continue to be made, toys, conventions and books all connected to each series, at least 2 museums dedicated to props.
I think the two main differences between these two massively successful franchises are best summed up by this quote from the New York Times:-
Trek fandom revolves around technology because the Star Trek universe was founded on ham-fisted dialogue and Gong Show-caliber acting. But the fictional science has always been brilliant. The science in Star Wars is nonsense, and everyone knows it. But no one cares because Star Wars isn’t about science. It’s epic drama. It’s about those incredibly well-developed characters and the moral decisions they face. People don’t get into debates about how the second Death Star works. They get into debates about the ethics of blowing it up.
That to me sounds about right. As with Harry Potter, Star Wars does seem more accessible to a younger audience, explained best by the above quote. But this doesn’t make Star Trek any less popular or the fans any less nuts. Both sets of fans are more passionate and dedicated then any I have ever seen. Whether it be watching them in their various forms, dressing up or going as far as learning Klingon/Huttese they are always an interesting group that I am proud to be a part of, sometimes(more on that later).But due to the fans reaction to the prequel movies, the special editions and the spin offs/ extended universe………………
Winner – Star Trek
I’m a fan of both of these franchises but for me Star Wars wins, by a mile. You can cram your Phasers and Batelths up your arse, Lightsabers rule. This is where my crazy fandom kicks in as I love everything about Star wars, from the prequels, to the Clone Wars, to the extended universe, it’s all good. I have over 130 books from the extended universe, a display of six lightsabers on my wall and a bunch of other crap all over the show. Star Trek is good but can’t compete.
This is a massive field consisting of thousands of contributors each of which with their own dedicated and passionate fan following. People will travel miles and wait hours at conventions to meet their favourite creators, who I have to say are some of the nicest people you could hope to meet. Fans spend hours working on costumes of characters and creations from different universes as well as creating amazing works of fan fiction and art in homage to every book released. There is more than a lot to choose from, but for the purpose of this piece I am going to go with the obvious and biggest:-
Marvel v. DC
I think it’s safe to say that everyone here at WOTN is a lover of comics. Between the members of staff here I think we pretty much cover every facet and genre of the comic book world but we all dip in to the DC and Marvel bags from time to time. Unlike the other subjects covered so far it seems completely socially acceptable to be a fan of both publishers, as well as any others, without being vilified by friends and family, but everyone does tend to have a favourite. So, on to a few stats:-
DC Entertainment – Founded in 1934 and is part of Warner Brothers, 33 live action movies(so far) based on DC characters, around 61 animated movies, 15 live action TV series with 6 in development, 36 animated series and loads of toys and clothing etc.
Marvel – Started as Marvel Mystery Comics in the early 1930s, now owned by Disney, 33 live action movies with 8 in production, 9 full length animated movies, 7 live action TV series with 4 in production, 32 animated series with 2 in production also loads of toys and clothes etc.
These two massive entertainment brands are very much about keeping up with the Jones’ in everything they produce. Last year DCs New 52 were launched taking them above Marvel in profit and sales for the first time in six years. That spurred Marvel to announce Marvel Now and a complete rework of their universe. This year also saw the release of The Avengers movie that shot up to number tree in the list of biggest movies ever which in turn prompted DC to announce a Justice League movie and so on and so forth until we’re all dead.
As far as results go to date, in the way of movies Marvel win due to the way The Avengers was built up in amongst all of the other great movies, but in comics DC have it. AvX was good but the New 52, or some of them, have been a great hit. So…….
Winner: – Draw.
I read a lot of book from both of these creators as I am very much mainstream in my comic taste, but my favourite is Marvel. For a lot of reasons I enjoy reading about the characters more and have loved pretty much all of the movie adaptation. That said I’m very much enjoying some of the New 52 books, mainly Batman and Justice league, and The Dark Knight trilogy are some of the best movies ever made. My main issue with DC is Superman. He is a great character and I love reading the books but when you have him why do you really need anyone else? He can be anywhere in a matter of seconds and is pretty much indestructible, there is no need for any other heroes. If he used his head he would make a lead suit, collect all of the Kryptonite on Earth and throw it in to the sun. Job done. Then all he needs to worry about is magic.
I know there are many other things in the world of geekery that I could of used that are just as popular and have just as crazy fans. Dr Who, Buffy, Stargate, Firefly, the list is almost endless. But fans, are fans, are fans, they all have a lot in common. They love what they love and will argue until they pass out to protect their opinion on the subject. They will go out of their way to get the latest toy/book/DVD/game before anyone else. They will spend hundreds of money and hours to be part of a convention and to meet the biggest stars or creators and spend time with like-minded people. You will never find a better place on earth than a convention with thousands of people who love what you love. In some ways it’s a lot like religion, but its cooler and you don’t have to kill or oppress people that don’t like the same thing as you.
Fandom is something that includes everyone no matter what race, sexuality, gender, fat, thin, young or old. It is a beautiful thing that unites people and for the most part is good. There is an ugly side however. Some people go too far. The biggest movie stars can’t walk down the street without being harassed and god forbid you make something that fans don’t approve of!!
This year Star Wars creator George Lucas announced that he was retiring from making big budget blockbuster movies. He was asked whether fan reaction to the prequels and the special editions had anything to do with his decision and he had this to say:-
Why would I make any more……… when everybody yells at you all the time and says what a terrible person you are?
This makes me sad on so many levels. For a start and before even to getting to any of the Star Wars stuff or whether you love or hate the guy this is a man doing what he loves and is passionate about at the very top level and has had to take a step back because people think they know better than him about his work. Sometimes people can go too far, especially on this subject. Fans have said that in doing the special editions of the original trilogy that he has ruined or messed with their childhood. For a start there would be no Star Wars in the first place without Lucas and secondly the movies are his and if he thinks that they need additions to make then closer to his original vision then it is up to him, no one else. I don’t know anyone that would leave anything they care about that much unfinished. As for the prequels, they are what they were meant and needed to be made to complete the Saga, so if you don’t like it then don’t watch them.
I guess my point is that it is possible to love or hate something and keep it to yourself. This is just one example, which I’m clearly very passionate about, of where fandom has worked in a negative way, making someone feel bad and costing us some possibly great movies/comics/TV that would have been produced in the future. While obsessive fandom is normally a positive thing and can do a lot of good do we really have the right to make people feel bad about their passions just because we don’t like or agree with them?