If you can’t remember the last time you were excited about developing a movie, you’re not alone. Hollywood’s recent financial woes have led to the sort of studio instability that has stunted the creative process, leaving out-of-date projects to fall through the cracks. But maybe not for long. Today, the possibilities for original plot lines are endless. Sure, there may be some plot holes, but there’s also room for creative freedom, something that has been missing in the movie industry for years. So, is the time right for another Hollywood Renaissance?
From the makers of the blockbuster “Thor”, comes a new epic adventure of mystery and imagination, “Ragnarok”. About ten thousand years ago the gods of Norse mythology had a huge party. They decided to invite everyone, immortal and mortal. But some of the invited guests didn’t show up. They gave the chance to the new king of the gods to decide who of the guests was going to die. This is how the battle of Ragnarok began.
The concept of the cinematic universe has always been an exciting one, but it has seen mixed success when it comes to execution. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which kicked off in 2008 with Iron Man, is massively successful, but the DC Extended Universe is widely derided for its misguided decisions to tie Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, and Green Lantern to the same universe. The most successful cinematic universe has been the Star Wars universe, which has been expanded to spin-off films, several television shows, video games, and books. The most successful of these has been the Star Wars live-action television series, The Clone Wars.
The enormous success of the Marvel films has rekindled popular interest in film worlds. Every major studio appears eager to get in on the action, churning out their own version of the successful formula, from DC crossovers to Universal’s hurriedly canceled “Dark Universe” (yeah, we don’t speak about that one). The problem is that their ideas are becoming a bit stale (looking at you again, Universal).
It’s your lucky day, studio executives! Here are seven suggestions for the next great cinematic universe: imaginary worlds from literature that, due to their excellent worldbuilding, vast storylines, and limitless spin-off possibilities, would transfer wonderfully to the big screen.
1. Discworld by Terry Pratchett
It’s amazing that a popular fictional universe like Terry Pratchett’s Discworld hasn’t previously been adapted into a film.
The Discworld (a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants, who in turn stand on the backs of a giant turtle flying through space… naturally) is the setting for Pratchett’s hilarious fantasy series, which began in 1983 with The Color of Magic, widely regarded as one of the best fantasy books of all time.
The Discworld is certainly excellent material for an expanded universe, with such varied characters as the embodiment of Death, an orangutan librarian, and the Oh God of Hangovers. There are dozens of separate but linked tales, and you’ll recognize familiar characters across the series – ideal for those all-important crossover flicks. Not to mention the fact that, despite its comic gloss, Discworld includes some unexpectedly deep ideas that would give a cinematic adaptation the gravitas required to survive in popular culture.
While a few miniseries and TV specials have been made that do a decent job of translating Pratchett’s novels, I believe it’s time to attempt a full-fledged movie franchise.
2. The Larklight world of Philip Reeve
Larklight is the steampunk space opera you didn’t know you wanted, set in an alternate Victorian period in which space travel has been accomplished and the British empire has expanded into the stars. With major episodes taking place on the moon, Venus, and a hotel floating in an asteroid belt, this sci-fi action adventure would be ideal for a big screen, mainly because of its out-of-this-world locations.
You’ve got a definite winner when you combine a slew of strange monsters (think gigantic spiders and hoverhogs) with the potential of expanding on a whole history of galactic travel.
Did I mention there are space pirates as well? There are space pirates, to be sure. And, despite the fact that they’ve just re-entered the mainstream as minor characters in films like Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m not going to stop until we’ve completely saturated the media with them.
While a cinematic version of Larklight was in the works a decade ago, it has since fizzled out. So, if you’re a studio executive reading this, this is your opportunity to give the people what they want: space pirates. It’s hardly rocket science, you guys (pun 100 percent intended).
3. Dinotopia by James Gurney
Dinotopia wasn’t just a strange 90s fever dream; it was a genuine book series about shipwreck survivors who stumble across a utopian civilization inhabited by sentient dinosaurs and their human friends. I don’t believe I need to explain why this is a fantastic film franchise concept, but if I do, I’ll do it now.
The novels are really lovely, while being totally insane. Gurney’s dinosaur drawings, as well as the impossible-to-date quasi-historical universe they occupy, are breathtaking. While earlier adaptations were restricted by the CGI technology available at the time (for a taste of the graphics, check out the TV miniseries teaser), I believe that with today’s technology, we may just be able to create something that does the original artwork credit.
Fun fact: In the Star Wars prequel films, George Lucas was accused of stealing from the Dinotopia style. Gurney has been a good sport about it all, but I’d be furious — particularly since Lucas met with studio executives to explore a possible cinematic version of the trilogy only five years before The Phantom Menace was released.
However, he could more than make up for his previous transgressions by endorsing a Dinotopia film right now. George, please, do the right thing.
4. Pern by Anne McCaffrey
Dragons! We’re in space! That’s all there is to it.
The Dragonriders of Pern books by Anne McCaffrey are perfect for a cinematic world, not just because people adore dragon movies, but also because their scale is enormous. The 23 novels and several short tales span more than 2,500 years of history. In the saga of Pern, a planet inhabited by human colonists who have lost most of the technology they arrived with and instead live a simple pre-industrial life, there’s plenty of cross-pollination among plotlines: separate stories and characters weave together in the saga of Pern, a planet inhabited by human colonists who have lost most of the technology they arrived with and instead live a simple pre-industrial life (and ride dragons, as the name would suggest).
Fans of the series may even carbon-date tales to various time periods using minute context cues since the mythology is so deep and the chronology is so thorough (and take great pleasure in doing so). A Pern series would be a sure return on investment with a cult-like fan following like this one – after all, the SEGA game based on the series has earned money. Plus, thanks to programs like Game of Thrones, there’s a greater demand than ever for tales about dragons and other high-fantasy animals.
It’s past time for someone to start working on an adaptation. Just double-check the chronology for canon correctness, or you’ll end up with a lot of angry dragon fans on your hands.
5. Known Space by Larry Niven
Another subject that begs to be adapted for the big screen is Larry Niven’s sprawling imaginary world. Niven’s hardcore sci-fi Tales of Known Space covers a thousand years of imagined history, from early human space exploration to complete settlement, in such depth that it’s nearly difficult to know where to begin. Ringworld, his most well-known book, begins with an investigation trip to a huge alien space station that may or may not be hazardous to humanity – and only gets more exciting from there.
The worlds created and developed by these hundreds of short tales and books have encouraged other authors to write as well: the Man-Kzin Wars collection includes titles by other authors, making Known Space a shared universe! It’s all really exciting.
Any screenwriter would have enough of fodder for thinking here in writing a franchise-worthy picture, given the meticulous attention to detail. Indeed, it’s difficult to picture ever running out of ideas with all this rich source material on the table — from how the geopolitical environment on Earth could develop to creative and thought-provoking innovations like the longevity medicine “boosterspice” and the remotely brain-stimulating “tasp.”
6. Zamonia by Walter Moers
You should definitely get lost in Zamonia if you haven’t already. This fictitious continent (placed between North America and Eurasia, FYI) is home to the characters of German novelist Walter Moers, and it provides a lot of action for your money.
The continent, which previously existed in our own planet but was submerged in the water in the manner of Atlantis during the “great fall,” is as lively and diverse as its people. Zamonia has it everything, from the dangerous and labyrinthine City of Dreaming Books to the ominous Lindworm Castle and the perplexing Demerara Desert – and that’s before you meet the inhabitants. Moers’ pages are populated with giant blue bears, spiny dinosaurs, and gnome-like Booklings, and their antics and crusades are nothing short of Odyssean.
It’s as outlandish as it sounds, but that’s part of Zamonia’s appeal. A film series with such a wide range of locations and protagonists would be sure to keep things interesting. Plus, since many chapters of this anthology-style series have yet to be translated from the original German, a few good film adaptations would help us English readers out.
Stephen King’s world is number seven.
Even Stephen King’s smallest novels are well-crafted in and of itself, but King’s ability to link his works in subtle (and frightening) ways is maybe even more remarkable.
Fans have created an extremely detailed map of cross-references across King’s 60 or so works, from recurrent appearances like Pennywise and the enigmatic Man in Black to repeated allusions of particular fictitious places. One effort to map the mind-bogglingly intricate relationships may be seen here.
Despite the fact that there have been more than 40 film adaptations of King’s novels, as well as many TV programs and miniseries, none of them have yet completely caught the intertwining of his works. A coherent cinematic universe with geographical consistency and scary cameos would far better vitalize the entire chill effect of King’s world than a series of fragmented stand-alone flicks.
On the other side, this would very certainly raise the odds of Pennywise appearing out of nowhere. So maybe this isn’t such a good idea… But given the wonderful potential of a fully evolved SKCU, it’s a risk I’m prepared to accept.
There are plenty of ways to create a cinematic universe, but some of them are more credible than others. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and the Matrix trilogy each had their own cinematic universe that was built around a single story and a single set of characters. But no matter how impressive their cinematic universe was; both were short-lived and only lasted a few film trilogies. Here is a list of seven of the most imaginative and long-lasting fictional universes:. Read more about marvel cinematic universe and let us know what you think.
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- fictional universes in movies
- best cinematic universes
- shared universe movies
- failed cinematic universes
- movie fictional universe