The Uber-Mega-Super Crossover, Part 1.

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Crossovers
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(I originally wrote this a few years ago)

My teenage years were during the 90s, when comic companies, in the midst of rapidly declining sales, featured a variety of inter-company crossovers. Crossovers between Marvel and DC were not new, in the 70s and 80s they did Superman/Spiderman, Batman/Hulk, and X-Men/Teen Titans. During the 90s however, they came with increasing frequency; Batman/Punisher, Silver Surfer/Green Lantern, Batman/Daredevil. Then they went all out with Marvel vs DC, which led to the merging of the two universes, known as Amalgam. Even other comic companies got into the act with Batman/Spawn, and Superman/Madman. Dark Horse themselves scored big with Aliens vs Predator, matching the two movie characters against each other. That eventually became a film itself. Dark Horse also did Robocop/Terminator, two other movie characters. Not only did characters from the same medium meet, but comic book characters met movie characters in Batman/Predator. Other media mixing included Tarzan/Predator, and Superman/Aliens.

In the midst of all of these meetings, many of these tales were  just for pretend stories.other stories, such as Fantastic Four/Superman, were said to have taken place in “actual continuity,” where one character came into the “real” universe of the other.

Some of these crossovers were very entertaining, while many were disappointing. Either way they left fandom speculating on what other crossovers could and should take place. This got me thinking a step further, how far could the crossover be taken? How many characters feasibly (and legally) could meet in one story? Further thinking about this concept led to what I know call my ultimate fanboy nerd dream, the Uber-Mega-Super crossover, a giant crossover world featuring a huge amount characters from every medium in sci-fi/fantasy/horror.

Now I hate to be a downer, but when in preparing for this article, I poked around the internet to try to get a grasp on how many different worlds and franchises are out there. I know comics, TV and film fairly well, but I’ve been a little out of touch with video games and role playing these last few years. I found wikipedia articles on old cartoons I remembered as a kid, and found entire lists of different role playing games and science fiction novels. After looking at all this stuff I realized there’s just too many worlds to keep track of. Since it is pretty much impossible for EVERYONE to meet, I kept wondering to what extent an uber crossover could it happen. How big of a crossover could you have, how big of a story or stories could you feasibly and legally put together, and still have it actually be good?

Assuming that it is impossible to have every single world together, the first question would then be who to include. One of the easiest options is to stick with characters in the modern day. Many of the most popular characters in fiction exist in our time anyway. Limiting it to this would eliminate various fantasy worlds such as Dungeons and Dragons, and the numerous future worlds such as Star Trek and Dune. Future worlds specifically are usually a very distinct reality, making the combination of various future worlds difficult. Eliminating these universes would make the story easier.

Other possibilities a step up from that are to have the present world and one, or just a small handful, of fantasy pasts or futures, or to have one of each, or one and not the other.

Also generic characters could be weeded out, for example how many aliens invaded, or attempted to invade earth. Some of them can be removed, along with your generic barbarians, hard edge spies, reporters, vampire overlords, urban vigilantes, etc. Comic books especially often feature characters that are representative of other characters, but for legal reasons have different identities. For example in the series Planetary, certain characters are understood to be Superman, the Fantastic Four, and even Godzilla. Also how many secret government spy groups would you need? The most interesting characters and concepts can be combined into a few, or just one super spy group. Same thing with superhero teams, keep the characters, but you wouldn’t have the Justice League AND the Avengers. Mad scientists, experiments gone horribly wrong that gave birth to x thing, same deal.

Entire worlds that can be trimmed out for simplicity sake are ones where the main story had been finished, instead of continuing adventures like comic book worlds. A lot of your fantasy trilogies such as Lord of the Rings do not go on forever. Star Wars would fit this too, to a point.

Since we would be talking about a large number of characters anyway, one thing that might help tell the story easier is to spread the characters out through different time periods. For example, if you were to just take a crossover between all comic book characters, you could have most of the DC characters be in the WWII era, Marvel during the 60s, and Image, Valiant, and other indy characters in the 90s. The generations would interact of course, and in a neat way it could reflect actual comic book history.

Also with characters like James Bond or Indiana Jones, you wouldn’t have to include every character from every story, just the main crew, their immediate allies, and main arch foes. (Bond’s Spectre, Blofield, and Jaws for example)

Another approach to managing the crossover would be by company. In this era of multimedia conglomerates, there are a lot of properties under one roof. Hasbro for example, has the Transformers franchise, as well as G.I. Joe, and many more obscure franchises like Visionaries, C.O.P.S, and one of my personal favorites, Inhumanoids. On top of that they’ve bought out rival toy companies over the years like Coleco and Galoob, producers of even more obscure toy lines like Sectaurs and Blackstar. Hasbro has also acquired the gaming company Wizards of the coast, makers of Magic the Gathering, who in turn owns TSR. TSR of course are mostly known for Dungeons and Dragons, but also have created other lines like the Sci-Fi game Alternity. So that one company, all by themselves, could feasibly have a story mixing several of the most popular franchises in entertainment, along with some lesser known ones, that include a good genre mix of fantasy, sci-fi, military action, and more. If that one company would work with, say Warner Brothers, then they would also have the entire DC universe, plus well known horrorfilm franchises of Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

In dealing with such a large number of characters, one option is to break up the story into large arcs by specific characters, which again might be easier creatively and legally. For example, a story where Star Wars meets Star Trek, the story continues with Star Trek meeting Marvel, then Marvel meeting DC, then ending with D.C. meeting Star Wars.

Or instead of breaking up by specific franchises, break the story up by company. Have one story where Hasbro characters meet, then in turn meet characters from Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers then meets Marvel Entertainment, who go back and meet Hasbro. Again, with only 2 or 3 of the right companies, the possibilities are pretty big.

How could this story be told, would the story matter? More in part 2.

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