Whether it’s nostalgia, comfort, or just the insatiable desire for more of a beloved story, there’s something great about a sequel.
In the broader media world, especially on TV, it can sometimes feel like we’re in a not-so-golden age of reboots, from Roseanne to Jurassic World to Queer Eye.
But reboot mania is neither new nor necessarily a bad thing. Josef Adalian at Vulture pointed out that reboots can be seen as a more creative version of the rerun-driven nostalgia that fueled Nick at Nite and TV show reunion specials. We’re revisiting beloved characters, sure, but we’re getting new and timely stories with them.
We’re also in a peak moment for long-delayed sequels: Incredibles 2 picked up exactly where The Incredibles left off, but pre-teens who saw the first movie in theaters are in their mid-twenties now. And Top Gun: Maverick will be coming out a whole thirty-three years after the first movie. At that point, what’s the difference between a sequel and a reboot?
Maybe we need a new word for the way movie universes are being expanded—as Jurassic Park grows from a park to a full world, as Star Wars expands forward and backward and sideways in time. It seems like movies are taking their cue from comic books, where parallel universes can exist simultaneously, without one negating the other as canon.
Even comic book movies are getting in on the action, with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse coming to theaters this winter not to cancel out Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, but to give moviegoers another version of Spider-Man’s story, with Miles Morales in the mask, alongside.
Whether it’s by the original author or a new writer with a new viewpoint, we love telling stories that don’t just continue, but also deepen and complicate, the originals.
You can see this in our serials: Tremontaine is prequel to Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, A Most Dangerous Woman is a sequel to Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, and—sneak peek alert—Silverwood, our forthcoming horror serial, is based on a YouTube series, with a new story to tell in that universe.
Sequels and spin-offs and reboots don’t crowd out new storytelling—they make space for it, just sometimes in worlds that we already know.
Did you enjoy this newsletter entry? Keep reading with this previous installment on Storytelling and Story-making!