The entertainment world is caught in a powerful nostalgia wave, as reboots, remakes, and revivals dominate the scene. Riding on the yearning for the past, these productions whisk us away to treasured memories.
This phenomenon owes a debt to hit series like “Stranger Things,” which rekindled the flame of 80s nostalgia and kickstarted a resurgence of beloved franchises. Nostalgia is extremely reliable, and it might discourage people from taking chances or trying something completely different.
Reviving Iconic Franchises
Disney has been reviving classic franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones while at the same time churning out endless live-action remakes of its own movies. Studios infuse these revivals with a contemporary twist, ensuring that audiences stay captivated.
If done well, it can attract a whole new generation, but Disney has recently been making a huge error: relying solely on cameos and references to hold up their products.
My personal theory on why these franchises are coming back is that we’re running out of ideas in our current ones. Even Mission Impossible looks like it’s finishing its story, as does Fast and Furious. In the wake of modern franchises ending their stories, new ideas have to come from somewhere.
The 80s specifically has its own soundscape and generational tone. Its fashion is instantly recognizable, and even familiar settings end up looking different in the past. Shows and movies involving time travel, especially now, will inevitably use the 80s as a setting, even if it’s just for a few seconds.
The Fear of Taking Risks
Chasing guaranteed success comes with the fear of taking creative risks in storytelling. Studios hesitate to invest in unproven concepts, opting instead for safe bets that leverage established intellectual properties.
This actually happened with the first John Wick movie, which would have been a standard straight-to-DVD if not for its well-directed stunts. It could have simply been a cult classic, but the directors trusted their vision and transformed it into a huge action franchise.
The New Jedi Order
By referencing the past, sometimes these studios create inferior versions of the stories they’re trying to adapt. They try to combine the original idea with modern conventions because they aren’t willing to break the mold and fully commit to those concepts.
The Star Wars sequel trilogy is a great example of this. Han and Leia’s son in the movies is Ben Solo, also known as Kylo Ren. He was a former Jedi who turned to the dark side. This idea might seem fresh until you look at the original Extended Universe books. Han and Leia had a son named Jacen and a daughter named Jaina. Jacen fell to the dark side, and Jaina had to stop him. A few books later, he returned to the light and helped save the galaxy from an extragalactic threat.
These basic story beats are the same ones that Rey and Kylo follow in the movies. Instead of progressing forward, Lucasfilm took the safe route and focused on something everyone would love. The studio was so terrified of criticism that Episode 8 was just a pseudo-remake of A New Hope. Ultimately this backfired, and the trilogy turned into a mess all because they refused to take a leap of faith.
The nostalgia wave continues to surge in contemporary entertainment, propelling audiences into revived franchises and reimagined classics. Stranger Things blazed a trail, reigniting 80s nostalgia and inspiring renewed interest in the past. Striking a delicate balance between nostalgia and originality is paramount.
Creators should wholeheartedly embrace the pull of nostalgia while fearlessly pushing boundaries. The ones that do this create enduring experiences that capture the hearts of devoted fans and captivate new generations. This powerful wave serves as a poignant reminder of the timeless allure of the past and its transformative influence on our present and future.