It’s time to say goodbye to threadbare IPs including ‘Star Wars,’ Marvel movies and ‘Doctor Who’ (2024)

Once upon a time there were endings.

A storyteller told a tale.

It finished.

The storyteller moved on to other stories.

Books closed with the lovely turn of phrase “The End.”

This happened in radio, movies, and television.

But no more.

Stories don’t end, at least not the ones that can repackaged and resold to a lazy culture who would rather consume another version of the same characters and ideas than try something new.

Corporations call such stories “IPs,” short for “intellectual properties.” Once someone takes a story and starts taking about it in legal language, it’s already started to suck.

I remember when executives at the Gannett Outlet Store in Des Moines started to refer to its newspapers as “properties.”

Not many good decisions were made after that, but let’s not get into that here.

My favorite quote on this subject comes from a 2006 episode of “Doctor Who” — more on that in a few paragraphs — when beloved companion Sarah Jane Smith, played by the late Elisabeth Sladen reminds the Doctor that nothing lasts forever.

“The universe has to move forward,” she said. “Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it’s a world, or a relationship … Everything has its time. And everything ends.”

What follows are some things that need to end:

“Star Wars”

There should be three “Star Wars” films — the first three from 1977, 1980, and 1983.

That was enough. Everything that followed was lesser than the original trilogy despite all the technology George Lucas and then Disney through at it.

There were a few moments, the first two seasons of “The Mandalorian” or the Darth Vader scene at the end of “Rogue One.”

But I would gladly trade all those away to have never witnessed Han Solo be turned into a deadbeat dad selling exotic animals in “The Force Awakens” and Luke Skywalker drinking green milk from a space cow’s teat in “The Last Jedi.”

The boy in me who played with “Star Wars” toys in the blue high-pile carpet of my bedroom never would have thought of saying this, but there’s just too much “Star Wars.”

There are, to date, 12 movies with more on the way, six live-action streaming shows, seven animated series, and a stunning 13 animated versions of LEGO “Star Wars” stories.

I’m not even counting video games, role playing games, card games, books, comics, documentaries, and sundry other related projects.

Enough. “Star Wars” should have ended in 1983 with the Ewoks playing “wub-wub” music on Stormtrooper helmets.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

From the unexpected hit “Iron Man” in 2008 through the “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in 2021, Disney-owned Marvel Studios produced hit after hit with the characters from Marvel comics.

I grew up with my nose in a comic book and once dreamed of drawing the Incredible Hulk for Marvel.

There were some duds in that 13-year run.

“Thor: The Dark World,” “Black Widow,” “Eternals,” and “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” are all completely ignorable.

But every Marvel released since 2022, except for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” has been terrible.

I can’t help but think how much nicer the Marvel movie story would have been if things had ended with “Avengers: Endgame.”

I mean “end” is right there in the title.

“Doctor Who”

This one pains me to say because the time-travelling hero of 61-year-old British television series is my very favorite hero.

I was the only kid I knew in Winterset who made watching “Doctor Who” on Iowa PBS a regular appointment.

They were reruns then. I was a kid in the 1980s watching Tom Baker in the title role from the 1970s.

“Doctor Who” should have ended in 1989, when the BBC originally cancelled it.

There have been some terrific moments in the revived series that began in 2005, but like the original run, the stories and characters began to fade over the ensuing 20 seasons until it completely lost its storytelling mojo in 2018.

And, no, culture warriors, I don’t blame this on the lead character being cast as actress Jodi Whittaker.

The Doctor being female didn’t bother me. An endless slog of terrible stories, none of which are memorable, bored me.

The run was so bad they brought back the original revived series producer, Russell T. Davies, and the most popular actor of the current run, David Tennant, to reprise the role as the 14th Doctor.

It didn’t help. “Doctor Who” is dull and forgettable.

I’ve taken to watching the reruns on free streaming services.

Honorable Mentions

There should only be three Indiana Jones movies, two Godfather movies, and one Ghostbusters movie.

I understand some of the movies and shows I’ve written about are the favorites of fans.

Feel free to blow me up in the comments or by email. Or suggest other series and movies you would just as soon make a graceful exit and I’ll write about them in a future column.

Until then, though, I’ll leave you with a Boyz II Men song that was popular when I graduated from high school 31 years ago:

“I thought we’d get to see forever, but forever’s gone away. It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.”

It’s time to say goodbye to threadbare IPs including ‘Star Wars,’ Marvel movies and ‘Doctor Who’ (1)

Daniel P. Finney, a member of the Iowa Writers Collaborative, wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. Please consider a subscription or donation to support this work through any of the following payment vendors.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.

It’s time to say goodbye to threadbare IPs including ‘Star Wars,’ Marvel movies and ‘Doctor Who’ (2024)


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