Last list post, I considered doing a couple more for things like Sci-Fi and Anime, but there are so many specific things, like with Fantasy in both of those, that I thought, let’s wrap it up with a nerdy grab bag of ideas. This list…
Marvel and Disney announced when we’re getting a whole bunch more Marvel movies in 2022 and 2023, there’s some interesting things with that announcement, though, not the titles of the movies.
Plus, Disney+ is out there and I decided the first show that I was going to watch was the 1994 animated Iron Man series. Does the show hold up, is it a good show, is there anything you might be able to get from it for the upcoming Shang-Chi movie? You’ll have to listen to find out.
I want to thank everyone for listening, I love checking on the stats and seeing how many people are checking out the show. If you are enjoying the podcast, please consider leaving a rating and review. Those help more people find our podcast and join the growing #10MinMarvel community. We are iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher and Spotify.
If you want to get in contact with the show, you can leave a comment here, or find on on Twitter. My Twitter handle is @TheScando or you can tweet using #10MinMarvel.
Until next time.
I forgot to get this posted yesterday, but we did have a new episode of #10MinMarvel come out. There are two chunks of movie news that were announced. One from Sony and one pertaining to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 5. I speculate a little…
We all know fantasy pretty well, at least I’m assuming that we do. We’ve seen and/or read Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. We might have read the Shanara Chronicles, Wheel of Time, Mistborn, or so many other epic fantasy series or watched shows like Merlin, Game of Thrones or Grimm. And there are certain things that we generally expect from fantasy, but what happens when fantasy series aren’t the norm, and why aren’t there more of them?
I think the biggest reason that there aren’t more of them is because publishers and writers want something that feels familiar. A writer can feel like it’s their own unique twist on something that is familiar and safe, and a publisher can look and see how well things have sold. Now there is plenty of variety within the standard epic fantasy that we often think of and that we see published most often, but there’s always some medieval feel to it that feels normal and allows us to jump into a world quickly and pick up the edge cases about the world that are different from others.
What are some of the tropes of fantasy that are used often?
While it’s less the case now, it often feels like fantasy is the clear good versus evil. Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are both clear examples of this where there is clearly a good side and there is an evil side, and there really isn’t ground in between. Sometimes you really want that delineation, but fantasy can lean too much so into the good versus evil and it simply being that and nothing more.
Also there is the medieval feel, or what we attribute to a medieval feel. There are going to be knights most likely, though they might be called something else, a king, either good striving against the evil forces coming to the lands or evil keeping the people oppressed so a rebellion must rise up and there’s not all that much in between. Lots of castles, sprawling forests, and generally a lot of what you’d expect from Robin Hood shows up in your standard epic fantasy. Even in urban fantasy, there is often some leftover feel of the medieval period. In the Dresden Files, the wizarding council holds old traditions, in Harry Potter, Hogwarts is literally a giant castle.
Finally, while it’s not in all fantasy, there is very often some form of magic. This is often where fantasy diverges the most as different people use different things for magic. It could be that the magic comes from the divine, it could be that magic is steeped heavily in ritual and must be done at ritual locations, or it could be a quicker and dirtier magic that can be done on the fly. Magic can be fine and precise wielded like a scalpel or it can be swung around like a club, bludgeoning everything. So there’s plenty of leeway for magic, but it is something that is commonly found in fantasy.
That’s epic fantasy, is all fantasy like that or are there different types of fantasy?
While that might be the type that people think of when they think of fantasy thanks to Lord of the Rings, it certainly isn’t the only type of fantasy out there. There’s paranormal fantasy, urban fantasy, low fantasy, dark fantasy, or even steampunk would qualify as a different type of fantasy. Probably the biggest growing type of fantasy falls into that area of urban fantasy. The Dresden Files series is one of the biggest or Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman are two of the better known. But TV shows like Grimm also fall into that Urban Fantasy sub-genre of fantasy.
There are a few that I really want to call out, though, the first being Urban Fantasy. This is one of my favorite genres of fantasy as taking a modern world and putting magic not just into the world as a whole, but a densely populated area and really focusing the story down into that world can be done so well. In all of Neverwhere, Grimm, and The Dresden Files, there’s a grittier side of the world that you don’t a lot in fantasy. That grittier side of things is what sets it apart from contemporary fantasy which would qualify as something like Harry Potter where it’s in a modern setting, but doesn’t deal as directly with the modern nature of the world.
Another one can either be modern or not, but it’s a non-standard medieval fantasy. That’s a long name, but basically, it’s looking at fantasy that really goes outside of the normal sword and sorcery that you can see and takes us to another world or part of our world than London or the medieval European equivalent. An example of this is the Daughter of Smoke and Bones trilogy. Those books are set in Prague, so different location than normal, but they also deal with a very different subset fantasy with how they talk about a number of fantasy tropes, which you can see from above, and the creatures that you see. You don’t really have your standard goblins, trolls, and faeries. It’s often a bit jarring not to have your standard fantasy tropes, but it’s also refreshing to see fantasy step away from it’s roots and branch out into new areas.
Finally is a sub genre of fantasy that I want more from, and that’s the Weird West. But this can also fall somewhat into historical fantasy as well, so I’ll use that genre so I can talk about more things. But in the Weird West genre, you’re getting something that we’re familiar with, because of westerns, and adding in some mix of magic, steampunk or advanced technology, aliens, or monsters. The movie, Wild Wild West is an example of what Weird West can be. But when you expand it to look at other parts of history, you see it around WWI and WWII, even something like Wonder Woman which falls under the umbrella of Superheroes, but the movie was as much an alternative history fantasy movie as it was a superhero movie because of Wonder Woman’s backstory and Ares being a Greek god.
Now, there’s so much more you can go with into fantasy. And a lot of what I’ve talked about with world building before for RPG’s or just in writing in general you can pull into fantasy as well and use it to help shape your thoughts around fantasy. I’m going to be doing a follow up article soon on magic and high, medium, and low magic as well as different ways of using magic that I touched on here in this post.
But I’ll leave you with the question, what are some of your favorite genres inside fantasy, and some of your favorite books or TV shows or movies in that genre?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
I’ve been writing a lot of articles focused on products, games, shows, and things like that, and this one will mention a number of them, but I wanted to write an article more about a concept that popped into my head last night. It has been something that I’ve noticed while Kristen and I are watching shows or movies or if we are reading the same books. I often figure out the twist, solve the mystery, make the connection before she does. That got me thinking — how does that affect my enjoyment of a story, and do I enjoy it less because I’ve figured out the twist?
To answer that question immediately — no, I don’t think I enjoy it less. There’s a sense of excitement about figuring out a twist in a story before it happens, to connecting two things that seemly loosely connected but then really matter. Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is a show that is built on these loose connections, and connecting those dots before the characters do is fun, because the show does a good job of keeping these things somewhat hidden from the viewer. So, making those connections is fun, and it doesn’t take away from the story.
However, I do think it can for some people. When I’m watching something like Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency or Dark, I’m not what I would consider actively looking for these clues. The shows are built around twists, turns, and mysteries, so as I think about the show, I naturally think about those things. And if you’ve read some of my board game reviews, you know that I enjoy puzzle-y type games, and that I love trying to figure out what clue to give in Hanabi or what cards to play in Gloomhaven to get a perfect score or beat the dungeon. I just naturally think about these patterns.
On the other hand, I know people who actively are searching to make these connections. Their enjoyment is often fulfilled, like mine is, by figuring out these connections, but figuring them out too early or not figuring them out at all can ruin their enjoyment of a story. The hunt is what is enjoyable to them, and once that has passed, it isn’t enjoyable anymore, and conversely, if they can’t figure it out, they don’t enjoy it as much because they felt like the story tricked them or didn’t give them enough to figure out the secret, and they could feel like they are slow because of that.
Finally, there is the type of person who isn’t wired for figuring these clues out, and I think that this can be split into a couple of ways as well — those who don’t care, and those who simply enjoy the story. When Kristen and I watch Dirk Gently, it isn’t as if Kristen is getting less enjoyment out of the show because she doesn’t figure it out ahead of time. She enjoys it as much as I do; I’m just bouncing up and down on the couch because I’m pretty sure I figured something out, and she’s shaking her head and laughing at my antics. That is how it should be — being able to enjoy the story as a story, even if you aren’t picking out all the twists and mysteries as soon as the other people you’re watching it with are.
However, there’s an opposite side of this as well, where someone might feel like they are missing out because they can’t figure the story out as quickly as other people. This shouldn’t be the case, because stories are worth enjoying on their own even if you don’t pick up on the secret before it’s revealed. A fine line can be drawn as to how someone can “help” in this situation, as there are some chance that a person could make it worse. If you are figuring out what is going on before someone else, it can come across as patronizing if you try and say that it is just okay that someone else didn’t figure it out. A better route would be to, when talking about the story, focus on the story itself and what it meant to you, not when you figured out the twists and turns, so that everyone can enjoy the story.
As I started out this post, this was an interesting concept to me. There isn’t a right way to engage with a story as long as you are enjoying it. Remember — even if you figured out the twist in the first scene, don’t spoil it for the rest of us, and let everyone enjoy the story in their own way. To quote what the RPG Academy says (they’re talking about RPGs and how to play them, but I think it’s very appropriate here, too) – “If you’re having fun, you’re doing it right.”
If you’ve been around the site recently, you may have seen my posts about fandom bandwagons I’ve jumped on way after everyone else (and if you’ve read any of my other stuff, you’ve almost certainly seen me allude to my tendency to do this). For…