MIND MELD: Genre Crossovers We’d Love to See
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
From Jason and the Argonauts to Avengers Assemble, crossovers have brought the best of genres together in unexpected and pleasing ways. Instead of asking this week’s panelists what their favorite crossover is, I wanted them to share some of their own creations. So I asked them:
Here’s what they said…
Then there’s all the delicious possibilities from the Doctor Who universe, though sadly most of the crossovers I would love to see involve actors that are dead, or well past the age to convincingly play the part on screen.
But actually what I most crave is a colossal superhero comics crossover, with She-Hulk, Emma Frost, Black Widow, Spider-Girl and Kitty Pryde teaming up with Black Canary, Batwoman and the Batgirls, Wonder Woman and Power Girl, with Xena and Starbuck thrown in for good measure.
Together, they fight crime.
And then someone makes a movie about it.
My favorite thing about crossovers, when they work well, is that you get to see one set of smart people playing in a world that another set of smart people have created. Sometimes this happens and it’s not even a crossover, not technically, but it could still be amazing – while I have no great desire to send the Lockes of Keyhouse to the Dreaming, I would love to see Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez write an issue or arc of something set in the Sandman universe. (Okay, maybe I want to see this actually as a crossover, but only because I think Thessaly would kick Dodge’s ass.)
But to think about more traditional crossovers, I really wish that Veronica Mars could visit the world of Holly Black’s Curse Workers trilogy. Both the television show and the books share the same atmosphere of intelligent noir seasoned with a good deal of witty snark, and I would love to see the dynamic between Cassel and Veronica and Lila.
I would also really like to send the cast of Buffy over to the world of American Gods. There are so many of the characters there I would love to see interact. I think Giles and Ibis and Jacquel would have some really interesting conversations, that Mad Sweeney would take Xander out drinking and get into such trouble, and that Mr. Wednesday gets decked by Buffy at least once, probably after making a pass at her. And everyone in both casts has lots of practice dealing with the end of the world, so none of them will be surprised when it happens again.
With the notable exception of Cloverfield, the giant monster genre hasn’t really done that well in the new Millenium. Adding insult to injury, Sony decided to shut down the Godzilla franchise a few years into the new millennium, figuring that it had run its course for the present.
There’s a lot of reasons for that, but one of the most obvious is that giant monsters are also radioactive, and radioactivity doesn’t carry the same specter of horror in a modern world where we are facing natural disasters of such epic proportions on a regular basis that we no longer really need metaphorical monsters to show us that the world is full of terrors that can make us seem week and small.
But that wasn’t true in the 60′s, of course. Back then America was a powerful nation that could do no wrong, and Japan, still reeling from the bombing at the end of World War II fed us back their cultural horror of that epic attack as entertainment, telling us in metaphor a truth that we might have never have accepted literally.
In a nation facing the threat of nuclear Armageddon from a missile armed Russia, Japan’s nightmares were suddenly our own.
If the Kaiju monsters are creatures of their time—relics of an era long gone—so too are Donald Draper and the cast of Mad Men. They’re just as fictional, and just as metaphorical.
Why not trap these lost souls all together in a city under siege? Perhaps Don and Roger have headed to Tokyo on business, and are now trapped by a 400 foot tall lizard on a rampage through the streets of this strange foreign city.
Don would take the role that Raymond Burr did in the bastardized American version of the film, giving us the play by play as the city crumbles around him. We’d see it through his squinting, confused eyes. First Korea, and now this? What is it that Asia has against him?
Roger of course, would be finding a way to work the impending doom to his advantage. He could use the disaster as a way to cross through the language barrier, convincing Japanese office girls to celebrate their last night on earth with him, and make his dreams come true.
As the monster rampaged through the streets of Tokyo, the New York office would be watching in terror, getting glimpses by satellite, wondering what was going to become of everyone, and—of course—simultaneously figuring out the best way a towering monster could be used to sell their latest client: Tokyo airlines, the very reason that Don and Roger were flying over their in the first place. Bertram Cooper would be filled with rage and jealousy, wondering why he didn’t get to go.
As the night wears on, Don and Roger find themselves realizing that their lives may be trivial and meaningless, but seeing the army trundle out their latest super-weapon, only to have it crushed under the foot of a giant lizard, they also discover that in the face of an uncaring enemy we are all equally unimportant.
It would all end up being Don’s dream of course. The nightmares that inhabit the world of Mad Men are still primarily creatures of the id. The monsters of that show are the ones that make us run to the store shelves to get the latest and the greatest thing that we don’t need, and run screaming from the banality that inhabits our lives.
And so, when Don wakes up, he sells Japan Airlines back their own monster, claiming his victory over the orient, and crushing down once again, just for a moment, his own fears and insecurities as he lights up another cigarette.
I’d love to see a Leverage-style team-up of Felix Castor, Alex Verus, Jane Yellowrock and Matthew Swift. In the same way the Leverage team uses their superb confidence-skills to help the victims of unscrupulous villains, this team would use its street smarts and magic to do the same, except they’d be rescuing people from powerful and evil magical cruelty. Felix is the information guy, since he can chat with the dead and get answers even Google can’t offer. Alex uses his divining power to create the plan with the highest likelihood of success, and probably has plenty of magical knick-knacks in the backroom of his store to help the team along. Matthew, as the Midnight Mayor of London, has the contacts, and sharing his identity with the blue electric angels revs up his innate sorcerous power. Jane, the strong skinwalking vampire hunter, provides not only the muscle but a constant, subtle awareness of her environment, thanks to the Beast within her. Together these four could go up against the most powerful of magical conglomerates, tricking them into making right the wrongs they’ve done to their unfortunate victims.
I’d also love to see Clint Eastwood’s brooding Man With No Name riding with Brisco County, Jr, the wise-cracking, Ivy League-educated cowboy hero. It’d be a great buddy comedy, County in it to teach the bad guys a lesson while the Man just wanted his part of the money. While County was facing down some enemy with a little fast-talking, the Man would draw and shoot not only the enemy in the street but the two guys in the upper windows that no one else had noticed. “Did you have to kill all three of them?” County would ask. The Man would shrug. “When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk,” he’d drawl, stealing good lines from former co-stars.
Oh, the hijinks!
You know, now that it occurs to me, I wouldn’t really mind too much if Jerry Bruckheimer wanted to introduce Mad Kestrel and Captain Jack Sparrow to each other. Hey, Jerry? Call me.
Crossovers have the potential to be horrible or wonderful. Firmly in the horrible column would be The X-Men / Star Trek: The Next Generation from Marvel (late 90′s), or that time all the shows on NBC’s Thursday night lineup shared a hurricane or whatever it was. In the wonderful column, I would include the Eureka / Warehouse 13 crossovers, and the Amalgam line of comics from Marvel and DC.
My dream crossover is really difficult. Believe it or not, I used to think about this a lot. Not so much any more, but I’m willing to take a stab at it.
One of my favorite tv shows was Quantum Leap. Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the quantum leap accelerator, and vanished. Another favorite – Doctor Who. Imagine the hilarity if Sam woke up to find himself inside the TARDIS, staring at a reflection that was not only not his own, but was The Doctor’s? A time traveller inside a time traveller? And The Doctor waking up in Sam’s body taking with Gushie and Ziggy? How would the TARDIS respond to a different consciousness inside The Doctor’s body? How about hologram-Al in the TARDIS with Amy Pond?
I think Moffat could have a lot of fun with that. We all could.
Another idea I’ve recently been thinking would be pretty cool, is a Supernatural / Grimm event. Since these shows are on separate networks, it’ll probably never happen (didn’t stop the Ally McBeal / The Practice crossover, but those shows were written / produced by the same people, like Buffy and Angel – whose crossovers were kinda sad, except for Angel’s last appearance on Buffy, which absolutely entertained (mostly due to Nathan Fillion)). But I think it would be a lot of fun to have Sam and Dean, veteran hunters, come across Nick, fledging Grimm who has been making a lot of friends with the supernatural creatures he encounters. Would make for some drama should Monroe wolf-out and Sam and Dean decide he needed to be hunted…
Lastly, let’s really go outside the box (I’m totally stealing this from Marvel and DC). How about a superhero team unlike any team ever before? The Greatest American Hero, M.A.N.T.I.S., The Cloak, the kid from My Secret Identity (Jerry O’Connell), Mr. Merlin, the trio of female warriors from Cleopatra 2525 (who travel back in time to try and stop the rise of The Baileys), Manimal & Automan join forces to battle a new threat to the world as an alien invasion consisting of the Tenctonese overlords (Alien Nation), Mor-Tax (War of the Worlds), and the Taelons (Earth: Final Conflict)…
We could call them, The League of Avenging Justice!
Yeah. I watch too much tv…
A quick mental lineup of my personal rogues gallery proved that everybody already had a fairly long rap sheet, with my favorite—Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice—in the lead, having been kept on the run from genre to genre these past couple of decades.
So then I thought I might flip the telescope and look at the question from farther away. My favorite kinds of crossovers are a subset of my favorite kinds of stories, wherein either ordinary people are pitchforked into extraordinary circumstances, or extraordinary people find themselves in ordinary circs.
This can translate out to spec fic genres crossing with mainstream lit of various types, or historical figures, or else the mixing of types of stories, preferably with different cultures or paradigms in complement or conflict. And by conflict I don’t mean it has to be all war all the time. I am partial to comedies of manners mixed with just about everything, from mysteries to science fiction to mythology. Comedies of manners imply social rule sets, and the fun enters when somebody turns the rules inside out.
But the question did ask for figures, so I’ll toss some out. First to mind are interesting people of history. Certain prominent characters show up a lot in film and literature, like Napoleon. But what about General Kosciusko, who knew simply everyone important in Western Europe and the newly minted American republic? He was a staunch Physiocrat, and believed strongly in equality to the point of leaving his money to Thomas Jefferson to buy, free, and educate slaves. So…send him back in time. Or to space! Or to a fantasy world that is highly hierarchical, and set him loose in a blockbuster film.
Go back a few centuries. We see John Dee show up so often he’s become a stock character, but what about the other amazing people of his time, like Philip Melancthon, who was working on a Unified Field Theory? Toss him into parallel worlds on a TV show. Or Hildegard von Bingen, and her Scivias—pitchfork her in a world of angels as depicted in a manga series. How about Ninon de l’Enclose, who wrote her own rules during a time of strict social striation and etiquette? Put her in the Chinese imperial court during the Ming period, give her a dragon friend as backup, and watch the fireworks.
As for fictional characters, put Miles Vorkosigan anywhere—solving mysteries, up against the gods of Olympus in a comic book written and illustrated by Eric Shanower, inducted into the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in a TV serial, introduced into the beau monde of the Ancien Regime in a novel, Heian Japan either in history or anime, or the Mahabharata—and I am there in the front seat, or flipping pages, whichever inspires creative minds the most.
And, oh, why not send Elizabeth Bennet as well?
I’m tempted to say my favorite crossover would be Kurt Busiek’s JLA/Avengers, in part because I like Busiek’s work so much, and in part because those books contain what may be Captain America’s kindest moment (when he refrains from beating Batman like a dirty rug).
But instead I’m going to say King Kong vs. Godzilla, and I’m picking that movie because it used to be the crossover I hated the most.
As a kid, I liked King Kong well enough. Giant monsters of every kind were my favorite; I ran home from grade school every day so I wouldn’t miss Space Giants or Ultraman, skipped a lot of Saturday afternoon sunshine in favor of Mad Theater with Dr. Shock, and spent many happy hours imaging the pure joy of breathing fire on a skyscraper just before kicking it over.
Also, I understood King Kong, the movie, was something important. For one thing, it was actually a pretty good movie. For another, the film special effects magazines and books made a big deal out of the fact that Kong was never played by a guy in a suit. Having spent hours watching Saturday afternoon movies I didn’t have a problem with “hidden” zippers, but I chalked it up to the usual inexplicable grownup priorities. Still, it was a pioneer, of sorts.
But Godzilla was my favorite. I don’t mean the monster-as-hero he became in later films, defending the earth against aliens or whatever. I liked Godzilla the villain, who burned down cities and knocked moving trains from their elevated tracks.
So… King Kong vs. Godzilla? They got the billing wrong, but I was game for it. Of course they gave Kong an electro-grip and a few hundred extra feet, but they had to, right? Otherwise, the movie would have ended the first time Godzilla irradiated Kong’s junk.
Yeah, that’s a dude in a suit.
But why did I hate it? Because at the very end, the two monsters fall off a cliff into the ocean, only one swam away: King Kong.
I was outraged. King Kong defeating Godzilla? How did that make any sense? What universe was this? I was as livid as a Suvudu.com Cage Match commenter.
What I didn’t find out until later was that the “King Kong swims away” ending was shot and added solely for American audiences. The Japanese filmmakers thought U.S. fans would want to see the U.S. monster win at the end.
What they didn’t realize is that, like all fans, once we like something, we make it ours. Godzilla was “my” monster because I loved the movies–I didn’t root for them based on where they were made.
So, even though I haven’t seen it (and in all likelihood will never bother) I love that crossover most because I still love giant monsters, and somewhere out there is a movie where Godzilla gives Kong the whomping he deserves, just the way Cap would whomp Batman, and all is right with the world.
As for what crossover I’d like to see, I almost hesitate to say because I’m afraid the idea will take me over. Still, I’d read the hell out of Swords Against Casterly Rock.
AngeLINK series. She also writes vampire romances and cow mulitation mysteries as Tate Hallaway.
I was just invited to participate in an Alternate History (read: Steampunk) Day at the Minnesota Historical Society, and as I was walking around admiring the costuming I was thinking about cosplay in general and my recent experiences with it at an Anime con.
Then suddenly the answer to this question hit me: Samurai Steampunk.
How cool would that be? Maybe someone’s already done it, but I think a steampunk samurai would be an awesome visual. I mean, can’t you already see the animation? Or, even better:
Samurai Steampunk Superheroes.
I’d read that. I might even write it….
So my instinct is to say that, seriously, the crossover I’d really like to see is My Little Pony/Bladerunner, but I suspect the SF Signal audience may not find that productive. (But for those that do, Flutter Ponies, natch, and I like my Bladerunner heavier on the Philip K. Dick side, so perhaps you could say, Do Androids Dream of Electric Ponies?.) It would have to be anime-style, though a book would be intriguing… (And for those of you who say no, no, Skyrim is a much more natural fit for My Little Pony crossover, it’s already been done.
On a more serious note, I would like to see the new cast from J. J. Abrams’s Star Trek land on Pern. This is only partly because the Valhalla special effects of Thor have made me absolutely rabid for us to finally have our long-promised Dragonriders movie. As we know, Rukbat is a G-type yellow star orbited by Pern, the third planet, with an Oort cloud orbiting where the sixth planet would be, the source of the life-destroying mycorrhizoid Thread. I have a deep need to find out what Spock would make of matriarchal telepathic prism-eyed dragons. (Fascinating…) Uhura would almost certainly find herself Impressing a gold dragon, and Kirk and Spock would naturally Impress bronzes. Sulu would be a greenrider, if he is true to his Takei predecessor (as well he should be) — and in total it would be enlightening to see what Abrams’s very male-dominated cast would make of this society that revolves around the massive female gold dragons and their Weyrwoman riders. They will fight Thread and communicate with genetically altered dolphins and run afoul of Hold-Harper politics and fall in love. It will be glorious.
But who am I kidding. I stick by the MLP/Bladerunner mash.
ONE DAY. ONE DAY THE WORLD WILL PREPARE FOR BLADEPONIES.
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