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What If Creators Stopped Revisiting Finished Work?

Spider-Man crumbling into dust as Tony Stark watches in Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War.

This image is me every time someone asks a creator about their work and questions their choices, so then the creators make up some half-assed excuse and then it is taken as the bible truth by fans, and then it causes wars within the fandom. We’re seeing a rise in this with news and information from the Russo brothers, who have been talking about Endgame details since roughly 600 B.C.

To be fair to Joe and Anthony Russo, they also very clearly want to stop being asked about this movie as much as we want the information about it to stop, because I don’t know how much more I can emotionally take. Please don’t pull a Rowling and suddenly say that Tony Stark never needed to die and apologize for it. I’ve come to terms with it, I’m okay.

Much like Tony Stark, however, I would like the ongoing embroidery of canon to rest but it seems as if all my favorite fandoms don’t want the good to die young and want to continue to kick a dead horse. The other most notable in the curse of revisiting work is George Lucas. Now that it looks possible that we may be getting the original trilogy released in its original, un-recut version, it begs the question of why the movies needed to be tinkered with at all. Remastering makes sense, sure, but the scenes he spliced in weren’t exactly revelatory. Why did we need to change what would constitute “the original trilogy” for the new generation who saw it in the ’90s and early ’00s? As CBR so astutely points out:

Lucas kept revising and tinkering with the Special Editions over the years, adding more and more that left fans feeling sour. Of course there are famous changes, such as making Greedo shoot first rather than Han, adding in a song and dance sequence into Jabba’s palace, throwing CGI aliens in frame, which eclipse the actual events of the film.

HAN SHOT FIRST.

J.K. Rowling is now also doing a whole lot of after-project revising, in a more roundabout way, with her work in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise. If you recall from the novels and original Harry Potter movies, Minerva McGonagall was not old enough to be working at Hogwarts in the 1920s (let alone even be alive) and yet in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, there she be. And Rowling has become a meme for the amount she overshares about characters on Twitter, telling us things about them it sure would have been nice to know back when we were reading the books but now is just another exhausting detail.

Here’s my issue with all of this: Why can’t we just have our completed works in the shape they were presented in? Changing the narrative, and playing with new possibilities, is what fandom does after the fact, once the text is set. But when we keep hearing more and more details that weren’t included and can change everything, it’s jarring. Just today, the headline “Avengers: Endgame Writers Say Peggy’s Unseen Husband Was Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers” greets us over on Comicbook. If you’ve been thinking about Steve Rogers for nigh-on the last decade, this throws everything you know off. It wasn’t necessary. Listen, I like Avengers: Endgame. I saw it seven times in the theater and I’m waiting to own it until I can buy the entire box set of all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies with extra content because I’m not stupid. I know it’s coming.

But with each new question posed to the Russos or screenwriters Markus and McFeely, I feel a bit of myself dusting away as all those Avengers lost in Infinity War. A piece of creative work should stand alone when it is finished, and exist without having to be answered for months and years down the line. Sure, we can have questions, and it’s often fun to pose them and speculate, but that’s the beauty of interpretation.

How I view the sacrifice of Tony Stark and the departure of Steve Rogers is going to be different to how you do, so maybe let’s all stop going back to the finished products and exist in the future of these universes instead? Pretend Hayden Christensen wasn’t CGI’d into the end of Return of the Jedi?

(HAN SHOT FIRST.)

(image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Rachel is an I, Tonya stan who used to have a poster of Frank Sinatra on her wall as a kid. She loves superheroes, weird musicals, and wants Robert Downey Jr. to release a new album. She is Leslie Knope and she's okay with that. At least she gets to live in New York City though!