Monday, November 19, 2012

Random Top Ten: Best Geek Franchises

Across all media (film, television, books, comic books, video games, you-name-it), these are the franchises that keep geeks coming back for more. Am I right or wrong? Leave you comments below...

1. Star Wars
Created by George Lucas; debuted in 1977. The ultimate sci-fi fantasy space opera, Star Wars changed the cinematic landscape, became the defining moment of an entire generation or two, and is practically a religion among geeks - even those who profess to hate it can quote the entire first trilogy verbatim.

2. Batman
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger; debuted in 1939. The world's foremost superhero, despite the fact he has no actual superpowers. Instead, he's just a brilliant detective and martial artist, loaded with cool gadgets, and scary as hell: they don't call him the Dark Knight for nothing!

3. Star Trek
Created by Gene Roddenberry; debuted in 1966. No vision of the future has proven as compelling - nor as uncannily prescient - as Roddenberry's. But what really made it develop such a cult following was its humanity: compelling characters and timeless questions of morality.

4. Doctor Who
Created by Sydney Newman, Donald Wilson and C. E. Webber; debuted 1963. This British television series may not be the most widely known in America, but it has a huge cult following worldwide, and deservedly so. Following the exploits of The Doctor, a Time Lord who travels through time and space with his human companions, it is full of delightfully unexpected twists and turns, and every episode unravels like a exciting puzzle.

5. Middle Earth
Created by J.R.R. Tolkien; debuted in 1937. The granddaddy of all fantasy worlds, Middle Earth has recently experienced a revitalization thanks to Peter Jackson's two film trilogies: The Lord of the Rings and now The Hobbit. But even before that, shades of Tolkien could be found in nearly every subsequent fantasy author's work, as his blend of mythology and epic adventure has always been hard to resist.

6. Spider-Man
Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko; debuted in 1962. I wanted to be Spider-Man when I was a little kid. So did every little kid. He was a kid like all of us, a pipsqueak who was powerless and misunderstood, and just happened to get bit by a radioactive spider. Could happen.

7. Superman
Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; debuted in 1938. The very first superhero and still one of the best. I'm praying that we finally get a movie worthy of his legacy when Man of Steel comes out next year.

8. Godzilla
Created by Tomoyuki Tanaka; debuted in 1954. It may not have been the first, but Godzilla defined the giant monster movie genre, and the franchise and its many spin-offs are still going strong today.

9. The Universal Monsters
Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein was first published in 1818, and Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897. Universal Studios would make films of both novels in 1931, sparking a long and successful run of monster movies that would also include favorites like the Mummy, the Wolf Man, the Invisible Man and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Many of these monsters existed in a "shared universe," crossing over into each other's films throughout the years. These classic monsters remain popular to this day, and their movies are still occasionally revived by the studio.

10.  James Bond
Created by Ian Fleming; debuted in 1953. The ultimate superspy, at his best 007 will leave you feeling shaken and stirred. And as his latest film Skyfall shows, he's still got a lot of mileage left in him, looking as timeless today with Daniel Craig in the role as he did when Sean Connery first uttered the famous line: "Bond. James Bond."

Honorable mention: Harry Potter
Created by J.K. Rowling; debuted in 1997. This is a relatively new entry, but it already has a rabid fan base. If the franchise is kept alive, it may some day rival the others on this list. The main hero's story always felt a bit underwhelming to me in the series, but the world itself it wonderfully detailed and rich for further exploration.

Honorable mention: Indiana Jones
Created by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg; debuted in 1981. Indiana is one of the most loved characters in all of geekdom, but his body of work is pretty thin. Raiders, of course, is incomparable, and Last Crusade is awesome. If everything beyond that was half as good, we'd have a contender.

1 comment:

  1. While it has not been as capitalized-on as some of these others, I'd throw my vote in for The Matrix. There've been a few great comics, games, and assorted media which fleshed out that world substantially.

    To contend your last point, the body of work for Dr. Jones is also fairly plump with juicy material; there've been many books, television entries, and some *fantastic* adventure games (the fact that Fate of Atlantis was never turned into a movie is a CRIME).