In honor of the new year, I humbly present 8 resolutions for things that we geeks desperately want (and don’t want) in 2012.
On behalf of geeks everywhere, in 2012…
1) We want The Hobbit to live up to The Lord of the Rings.
Peter Jackson’s back, most of the original cast is back (the ones that should be, to serve the story) along with loads of new characters, Howard Shore is writing the score again, Weta is handling the effects. Warner Bros. could not hope for all of the pieces to fall into place more perfectly. And title character Martin Freeman is the perfect choice. If the trailer is any indication, it looks like Jackson & Co. are about to hit a home run.
But here’s the worry. The Hobbit is a very different kind of story than The Lord of the Rings, so to make a compelling film, the team at Wingnut Films have had to fill in a lot of blanks and flesh out characters and plot points that are barely a blip in the book. In fact, they’re filling in so much that they’ve stretched what could easily be one film into two. Or, depending on which reports you read, the second film may be an entirely new story, drawn from Tolkien’s appendices and lesser-known works, and constructed to bridge the gap between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. Which basically sounds like a prequel to the trilogy, showing us a lot of the backstory that was only mentioned in the original films.
I have faith in Peter Jackson to knock this out of the park. I just hope the second film doesn’t wind up being an unnecessary exercise in self-indulgence.
2) Enough with the crappy iPad knock-offs.
Apple took the gadget market by storm with the original iPad, causing the industry to dub 2011 “the Year of the Tablet.” Meaning, 2011 was supposed to be the year that every electronics maker came out with its own challenger to the tablet throne. The reality turned out to be anything but competitive. Apple solidified its hold on the market with the triumphant iPad 2, and almost a year later, only one device stands a chance of taking a bite out of Apple have surfaced.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of contenders. Android tablets were a dime a dozen in 2011, and just like Android phones, a new one seemed to pop up every other week and then be forgotten soon after. HP attempted to launch a tablet based on its own WebOS, and then quickly dumped the platform altogether. Samsung can’t seem to make anything that doesn’t look like a total Apple ripoff. Why is it so hard for electronics manufacturers to grasp Apple’s guiding principle that if you don’t have an original take on a product, get off the frickin’ stage.
Amazon finally created a real iPad challenger with its bestselling Kindle Fire tablet, a fine (and remarkably affordable at just $200) alternative for users who just want to consume popular books, movies, music, and games. iPad is still the superior product, but with the Kindle Fire, somebody finally brought another worthy option to the table.
3) No more musicals based on superheroes.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark may be packing in ye olde theatre now, but getting to this point was an unmitigated disaster. After endless delays, one cast member injury after another, the biggest budget of any production in Broadway history, a change in writers, a change in directors, and even a change in music, Spidey finally made his Broadway debut. And the reviews were abysmal — though much better than they were from the earliest previews.
The lesson to be learned here is clear: superheroes and Broadway just don’t mix.
4) We need a new YA Fiction box office hero.
Harry Potter made it to his grand finale. There’s only one more installment of Twilight still to come (thank God). What will movie theaters fill this gigantic void with? Right now, the best contender is The Hunger Games trilogy, Gary Ross’ adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ dystopia-meets-Logan’s Run bestsellers. One film is in the can and hitting theaters in late March, with the second (Catching Fire) already in pre-production.
The first trailer sold this fan completely on the brilliant cast (especially Jennifer Lawrence as series protagonist Katniss Everdeen — one of the best female roles to hit a Hollywood blockbuster in eons), and while Ross was an unexpected choice as director, everything I’ve seen so far hits all of the sweet spots from the novel. Hopes are running very high for this one.
Beyond that, there are no prospects to take the YA crown. Although we do (finally!) have Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game to look forward to — but that’s not until 2013.
5) We want Nintendo to release a complete video game console.
Nintendo’s fallen into a rut lately of releasing consoles to market before they’re ready. Wii came to market but a few years later we got the Wii Motion Plus controller, which made the whole thing work the way it should have to begin with. The 3DS was released earlier this year — and then Nintendo realized that the handheld device needed a second thumbstick, so they’re even now preparing the “3DS Extended Slide Pad” add-on.
Now before anyone starts arguing about add-ons for other consoles like Kinect and Move… It’s not the same. It’s one thing to add brand new functionality to an existing console, the way Kinect and Move added motion control to Xbox 360 and PS3. It’s another thing entirely to refine existing functions that should have been perfected before the blasted console was released in the first place!
Nintendo, please take the time to get Wii U right before you ship it.
6) Comic book publishers: Make some major line-wide events/miniseries that are worth reading — or don’t bother.
The annual “events” that Marvel and DC put out each year are an important part of their year-long publishing schedule, boosting sales and setting their editorial agenda for the year going forward. Time was, the big two created truly terrific events, like Civil War and Crisis on Infinite Earths. But 2011’s mega-series made “event fatigue” a meaningful reality. Marvel’s Fear Itself was a snooze and a disappointment. DC’s Flashpoint was a total misfire, though DC made up for it (and dominated the sales charts) with a reboot of the entire DC Universe.
2012 brings us Avengers vs. X-Men from Marvel, a 12-part, bi-weekly series that focuses on the fallout from the Phoenix Force returning to earth and trying to take on Hope Summers as its latest host, putting Marvel’s two biggest hero teams on opposing sides. DC (to my knowledge) has announced no major event for 2012, but one may yet be coming. Or, maybe they’ll just keep the momentum from the “New 52” going by pumping out more solid sales figures.
We want just want some good stories in 2012. Is that too much to ask?
7) TV networks: Mine more indie comics for your next great series.
The lesson of The Walking Dead is that indie comics rock. And they make tremendous TV shows. AMC learned this over the last year with a critically-acclaimed first season and an even better second.
So what’s next? Fox came very close to putting Locke & Key on TV earlier this year. Marvel is making big plans for a TV adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias, which is being retitled AKA Jessica Jones for sister company ABC (via Disney). Bendis’ indie hit Powers is also in production for FX.
Can there ever be another Walking Dead? Absolutely! There are tons of great indie comics out there, just waiting for their chance at the spotlight. Cable networks in particular should start looking at some of the stellar stuff out there.
8) For crying out loud, open Pottermore already!
No more books. No more movies. We need something to fill the Harry Potter-shaped hole in our lives. It was supposed to have opened in October of this year, but developer Sony says they need more time to prepare because they “underestimated the fan interest.” Are you kidding me? How is that possible?
Pottermore is a brilliant idea. Not as good as a new book by J.K. Rowling, I’m just sayin’. But a great one, nonetheless. It’s conceived as an entire community built around the Potterverse, featuring the long-awaited novels-as-ebooks and never-before-seen additional information about the characters, objects, and locations of the series. There will be games, artwork, users get sorted into houses, and lots more.
So why isn’t it here yet! Come on, Sony. Chop chop.