Hollywood’s got no shortage of franchises– sometimes it seems like every new movie’s a sequel, a prequel, a “reboot”, a re-imagining, a threequel, a squeakuel, or a remake– and some of these franchises are pretty nerdy. A recent discussion we had here about whether or not the Harry Potter series is more mockable than the Twilight franchise gets got us to thinking: Which franchise is the nerdiest? As such, we created a top-five list for you below, just for future reference. Read on, my gentle Examiner readers…
If you look at all the franchises that Hollywood’s given us over the years– Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, and so on– you’ll notice that more than a few franchises have one thing in common: They’re unbearably nerdy. Well, maybe not “unbearably”– they wouldn’t be franchises if they weren’t earning some serious money– but perhaps “breathtakingly nerdy”. Sometimes it’s the franchises themselves that are nerdy, sometimes it’s the die-hard fans that follow them. We wondered, though: which one’s the nerdiest?
With that in mind– and on the heels of the Harry Potter VS. Twilight debate that we engaged in earlier this week– we’ve put together a list of the top five nerdiest franchises, and evaluated each to determine the nerdiest thing about each of them: is it the films, the fans, or the people keeping the franchise(s) alive? Let’s start with our fifth-nerdiest franchise and see what we’ve come up with:
5. THE LORD OF THE RINGS
WHAT’S SO NERDY ABOUT IT? Well, the Lord of The Rings series was a massive achievement for Peter Jackson, who took a few hundred million dollars and managed to bring JRR Tolkien’s epic fantasy series to life over the course of three films (he’s about to start work on the “prequel”, The Hobbit). It’s inarguable that the films are great, and that Jackson pulled off a miracle when bringing it to the silver screen. But, my God, the fans…
SO, IS IT THE FANS? Well, primarily. The films feature more than a few things worth mocking– dwarves, silly-ass wizards casting spells, scary dragons, and other hallmarks of the fantasy genre– but it’s the endless geekery of LOTR fans that earns it a place on this list. It’s been awhile since the world’s LOTR fans were dominating message boards and random conversations, though, so it makes the list in fifth place.
HOW NERDY IS IT? On a scale of 1 to 10, the Lord of The Rings franchise is easily a 4, but may rocket back up to 10 when The Hobbit arrives.
WHAT’S SO NERDY ABOUT IT? First of all, you’re probably thinking, “Wait a minute: Avatar is a single movie– that’s not a franchise!” Fair enough. But 20th Century Fox and James Cameron have announced that Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 are just over the horizon, and the first one was clearly crafted with future installments in mind. Besides, it’s incredibly nerdy: just take a look at any of the Avatar fans sites– where “Avatards” are giving each other Na’vi names and professing their love to the mystical, wireless-enabled tree that the Pandoran natives worshipped– and you’ll be dumbfounded by the geekery you find there.
SO, IS IT THE FANS? Oh, without question. Avatar itself was a little nerdy– what with the hippy-esque, pro-environmental message (which, of course, there’s nothing wrong with) and the Pocahontas overtones– but it’s the ridiculous, overwrought reaction that the film’s fans had to the flick that earns it a spot on this list: You have Avatar to thank for that guy in the cubicle next to you, the one who painted himself blue on the last Casual Friday and berates you about not using the recycling bin properly. Yes, James Cameron found a way to make hippies even more obnoxious: You paint ’em blue and put ’em in loincloths.
HOW NERDY IS IT? On a scale of 1 to 10, the Avatar franchise (and it is a franchise, like it or not) is easily a 7.
3. HARRY POTTER
WHAT’S SO NERDY ABOUT IT? It’s a boy-wizard, dragons, goblins, something named “Dobby”, and a whole bunch of people waving magic-wands around and shouting made-up words: it’s just as nerdy as you’d expect it to be (but it’s also awesome: the Harry Potter franchise is one of the best long-running Hollywood franchises ever, and even though we love it, we’re gonna have to mock it a bit here).
SO, IS IT THE FANS? Yes and no. On the one hand, the films are filled with the exact sort of Magic: The Gathering-style nerdiness that people have mocked since the fantasy genre was invented. If you make fun of Harry Potter, you’ll have no shortage of targets for your snarkiness. On the other hand, though, the fans can be pretty insufferable: They micro-analyze every last word in JK Rowling’s series, they complain about movie spoilers even when they know how the film is going to end, they dress up in pointy hats and hang out in bookstores– it can get really geeky when a Potter fan’s around.
HOW NERDY IS IT? On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re giving the Harry Potter franchise an 8. It’s worth pointing out again, though, that we enjoy the Harry Potter franchise (but we don’t want anyone finding out about our Harry Potter bed-sheets).
2. STAR TREK
WHAT’S SO NERDY ABOUT IT? Have you ever seen photos from a Star Trek convention? Heard the story about the man who taught his baby to speak…entirely in Klingon? Seen the SNL sketch where Captain Kirk himself mocks the fanbase, asking a Spock-eared nerd if he’s ever kissed a girl? Star Trek is almost the nerdiest franchise ever made, but avoids the top spot on this list because JJ Abram’s reboot of the series turned out to be awesome, making it cool– if only temporarily– to be a Star Trek fan again.
SO, IS IT THE FANS? The original series was pretty cool for the time, but every new installment after that incarnation– yes, even The Next Generation— was really, really geeky. But it’s probably unfair to point the finger at Star Trek rather than its fans: after all, Star Wars has managed to stay off our list (mainly because we don’t ever want to talk about Star Wars again after what Lucas did to the franchise), and it deals with a lot of the same sci-fi cliches– aliens, space battles, exploring new planets, and so on. Yes, it’s the fans. Allow me to repeat something from the last paragraph: Some dude taught his child to speak only in Klingon. Ladies and gentlemen, that is breathtakingly nerdy.
HOW NERDY IS IT? On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re going to give Star Trek an 8.25. It’d be higher were it not for Abrams’ film, which was one of the more exciting movies we saw last summer (and the beginning of what we’re hoping will be a much less-nerdy, fun, reliable franchise).
WHAT’S SO NERDY ABOUT IT? Where to begin? How about the middle-aged women screaming after Robert Pattinson, the ones who decorate their rooms– usually the room their husbands have decided never to go into again– with Twilight throw-pillows, “Team Jacob” posters, and cardboard cutouts of Bella Swan? How about the awful writing, the dialogue that’s just begging to be mocked, and the bargain-bin special effects that have become– over the course of three films– the hallmark of the series? How about the rumors about a werewolf falling in love with a vampire-baby (delivered by vampire-teeth C-section) in the next film? We could go on.
SO, IS IT THE FANS? Yes and no. It’s the fans– they have no sense of humor about their preferred vampire franchise, either: every time we mention Twilight here at Comedy Examiner HQ, the hate mail volume skyrockets– that have made the franchise easier to mock, mainly because they get so bent out of shape about it. But the films aren’t helping, because they really are bad, and the books…well, if you’ve never read another book, you’ll be impressed. But horror-writer Stephenie Meyer is no Bram Stoker. Hell, she’s not even Dean Koontz. Twilight‘s nerdiness is a combination of all three elements: the fans, the books, and the movies.
HOW NERDY IS IT? On a scale of 1 to 10, Twilight is the gold standard: we’re giving it a 9.5 (because surely there’s a franchise out there that we’re completely unfamiliar with that’s even nerdier, but we’re hoping we never come across it). Yes, even in a contest to see who the nerdiest franchise is, Twilight can’t earn a perfect score. Maybe after that vampire-teeth C-section we’ll feel different.
Now, despite the fact that some of you have already stopped reading this to compose strongly-worded, all-caps emails to the author, allow me to point out that The Comedy Examiner’s Office supports most of the franchises on this list: Star Trek, Harry Potter, and Lord of The Rings are all great series, and we’re happy to watch most of their installments whenever we come across one on TV (OK, maybe not so much Star Trek). But there’s nothing wrong with mocking the things we love from time to time. And that’s worth remembering, folks: Just because something’s nerdy doesn’t mean it’s unlovable (In fact, some people like these franchises because of how nerdy they are). What I find to be “nerdy”, you might find to be “wicked-awesome”, and besides the fact that you should never use the phrase “wicked awesome”, there’s nothing wrong with that. So, carry on, nerds.
Except for you creepy Avatar fans slathered in blue paint. You’re just ridiculous.
UPDATE: Due to popular demand, we’ve got a few runner-up’s that need to be named here, just to make sure everyone remains calm (well, as calm as can be expected). Here they are, in no particular order: Dr. Who, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Star Wars (even though I didn’t wanna mention it, I’ve got a dozen emails in my inbox that insist that I should have), the Terminator series (strange, but I’ve had four emails about that one; Can we consider the Terminator series nerdy? Is anyone even following that franchise anymore?), and– last but not least– I’ve got one email from one very unamused Twilight fan who demands that I include (and I quote) “the UR FACE ‘FRANCHISE‘”. I’m not sure what that means, but I like the sound of it.
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