Cross-Medium Canon Conundrums

With the announcement of casting for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the longAgents of S. H. I. E. L. D. list of upcoming Marvel movies, Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D., and Agent Carter, I’ve become a mixture of excited and thoughtful. The respective franchises are things I’ve loved for a good portion of my life. I’ve read comics since age 6. I’ve immersed myself in the study of Harry Potter for 11 years, both as an academic and a fan. I love that these things are finally “cool” and more mainstream. The idea that I can experience my favorite fandoms across a variety of different mediums is not only enjoyable to me, but intrigues me on multiple levels.

Comic books have always had a crossover nature. It’s not uncommon for a reader to find at the end of their issue of Wolverine, “Follow the further adventures of Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men #146,” or something to that effect. In fact, one of the things I love the most about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the crossover that began with the Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D. TV series. I was already a fan of the films, but this straight up made it feel like a comic book to me. The fact that I can spot things in Thor: The Dark World that appear in Agents of S. H. I. E. L. D., things from S. H. I. E. L. D. that show up in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, etc., is absolutely fascinating to me. Yes, you can watch these things individually and not necessarily need to watch both to enjoy them, but I love the enhancement they give the story. I get the drift that the MCU is meant to have the feel of a comic book. The cross-medium that the MCU is employing here crosses over easily and solidifies its own canon. Harry Potter is going to be a different story.

Once I plowed through all available Harry Potter books in the summer of 2004, I went to the library and found copies of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages. It was fun to get the story enhancing details from these school books, but the idea of getting a completely new story, the “creation” of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in film form, not in the original medium of the novel, is a bit of landmark. I can’t think of another fandom that has had the author of the original canon create an original screenplay for a film that was not lifted directly from the original medium. So here’s my question–how does having a cross-medium canon affect interpretation?

I recently learned a bit about adaptation in a session at ConCarolinas. During the process of adapting a book to a film it typically goes as follows: 1 page of a book = 1 minute of a film. Take 600-800 page book and translate that to a 2 hour movie? DIFFICULT. Needless to say, adaptation is an incredibly challenging process. There are things books are capable of that films can’t do and vice versa. Even so, that’s not exactly what’s happening with the Fantastic Beasts film. Fantastic Beasts promises to be a completely original film, written by the original author. I’m curious how this will affect people’s interpretations of the original novels, as well as the movie franchise. I suppose it will be difficult to gauge exactly what will happen until it releases, but I’d love to know your thoughts and speculations.

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About The Nerdy Blogger

Ashley Whitehead Thomas is The Nerdy Blogger. She holds a B. A. in English Literature from Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee and began her M. A. at Signum University in Spring 2013. Ashley blogs, reads, writes (for fun and for hire), and spends time with her husband, Ryan, and their two cat-monsters, Luna and Oliver.
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