Promo poster for Star Wars: Andor.

It felt like a weird year, one where the stability of nearly everything we have taken for granted was tested in some way or another. Southwest Airlines is currently in the middle of a massive travel nightmare, and everyone is either confused or pissed off, and there is a general sense of feeling lost. The collective desire for the year to end is exhaustion, not excitement about what will happen in the future.

The last quarter of the year has been particularly busy for the entertainment industry. There was enough to fill a three-season prestige limited series after so many shows were canceled. Whether it was the attempted beginnings of a certain blockbuster tentpole, or discussions about how specific works can operate in the machinery of their mothership series, we have all had franchises on these topics. We haven't just spilled endless digital ink on what we want from certain franchises, we've also wondered if the people involved know what they're doing with said properties, and what it means for a franchise to be a franchise in the first place You couldn't escape the talk of franchises, series, sagas, and the like.

Image for article titled 2022 Was the Year Franchises Fell Off Their Pedestals

It's possible that it was inevitable, since after 2020 the industry was kneecapped because of the Pandemic and studios were playing chicken with release dates in case there was another outbreak. If Spider-Man: No Way Home was a soft step back into franchise waters, then 2022 was more like cannonballing into the pool from the high diving board. Tom Cruise and Jordan Peele are two people who remind audiences why they're so popular. The Despicable Me franchise became a high earner. Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Owl House, and Mobile Suit Gundam were some of the shows that brought in new viewers.

It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Audiences lost faith in the tentpoles and brands that have become a big part of our lives due to the messy way that studios handled some franchises or how certain installments were at best mixed or straight up bad. There was a lot of discussion about how Andor fails in the eyes of some because he doesn't feel like a Star Wars character. Warner Bros. Discovery is making people think about the viability of DC and a certain property going forward into the new year.

Sometimes shattered faith was brought on by the quality of a film or TV show, other times it was due to the people involved. In order to let people know that he wasn't upset about Black Adam's performance, he tried very hard. Even though he doesn't have the cultural cache of Johnson, you can't deny that he was more appealing in the eyes of many. It is clear that something is going on there that is waiting to be uncovered after he left the show. The recent release of the Blood Origin series isn't enough to instill faith in the future of the series without him. It seemed like he would be Superman again until he wasn't confident in his career choices.

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There was a shift in the video game space. Fans of Silent Hill and Cyberpunk 2077 had their faith renewed, but others had their flaws highlighted. Fans of the franchise had differing opinions on what the franchise should be going forward and who should be to blame for the launch issues. The director of the next mainline Final Fantasy game gave a terrible response to the game's lack of diversity, which served as a reminder that even though a franchise is a blockbuster phenomenon, that doesn't mean it's for everyone. Games are usually off in their own little world, but when they intersect with the larger entertainment landscape, you see how odd the medium is as developers are getting acquired and trying to win back favor with their fans after bad PR.

The year 2023 is looking like another big one for franchises thanks to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and who knows what else. Will it be as chaotic as 2022. I'm hoping that's not true. I like to kick back with a reliable series and let it take me on a journey, even though I have enjoyed and appreciated new experiences. It's hard to break off from that stability. Sometimes, you just want what you know. This year, it was clear that the franchises can no longer coast on what they have provided for a long time. They have to be willing to allow new stewards to take the reigns for a while so as to allow their talents to shine.

Most of the oxygen in the room is taken up by franchises each year. It is hoped that the cracks in the armor don't show as much as they did in the past.

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