Balancing plot and worldbuilding is a tricky business. You might want a world where magic is light and fun, but then want a plot about how magic is dangerous and needs to be hidden away. If that’s happened to you, then congratulations, you’re in good company. This week we’re talking about what happens when world and plot come into conflict. Not only will we mention high profile examples, we’ll describe how the problem could have been fixed, if only they would put us in charge of multi-million dollar franchises!


Generously transcribed by Perspiring Writer. Volunteer to transcribe a podcast.

Chris: You’re listening to the Mythcreants podcast, with your hosts: Oren Ashkenazi, Wes Matlock, and Chris Winkle. [opening song]

Oren: This episode is brought to you by our patron: Kathy Ferguson, professor of Political Theory in Star Trek.

Chris: You’re listening to the Mythcreants podcast. I’m Chris, and with me is…

Wes: Wes.

Chris: And…

Oren: Oren.

Chris: And today, we’re covering [dramatic] when worlds and plots fight. [Wes and Oren laugh]

Oren: Ooh. Fight, fight, fight!

Chris: Fight, fight, fight!

Oren: How does a world fight a plot? It’s like, a planet fighting a concept, or a literary device, as we learned last week? [Wes and Chris laugh]

Wes: Sounds like there’s going to be a lot of metaphors here. [laughter]

Chris: In this case, I’ve just read quite a number of stories where the world does not at all fit what the writer was trying to do with the plot. Where they were inherently at odds with each other, and that the world- did not support each other. And so, I thought it would be fun to talk about those instances and talk about things you can do to hopefully make that better.

Oren: Ooh, I want to talk about Star Wars. Cause nobody talks about Star Wars; it’s a very niche genre- [laughter]

Chris: Let’s start with Star Wars.

Oren: Okay, so, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

Disney wanted to make three new Star Wars movies, but also wanted them to be exactly like the old Star Wars movies. Or maybe this was Abrams’ idea? It’s hard to say; the movie-making decision business is complicated.

But someone in charge, or multiple someones, was like, ‘okay, so this is Star Wars, which means they have to be rebelling against an empire.’ [Wes laughs] ‘And it has to be the same characters, like, Luke, Leia, and Han and Chewie all still have to be around.’

And then someone pointed out, ‘but like, didn’t they win at the end of Return of the Jedi? I think I remember that.’ [Wes and Chris laugh] ‘Let’s go watch Return of the Jedi again.’ And they did, and they were like, ‘yep, okay, they definitely won.’

Chris: The state of the world does not support this.

Oren: Right, so they were like, ‘okay, so…. I guess they’re rebelling against the First Order, who is in turn rebelling against the Republic, which is the actual government.’ And this clash of themes, where the world is one in which the good guys have won and are now the government; but the desire to tell a story where the good guys are the rebels rebelling against the government is responsible for, I would say, about 90% of the new trilogy’s problems.

The other 10% is like, Abrams and Johnson wanting to do their own weird things that don’t make sense. [Wes and Chris laugh]

Wes: You’re spot on right there, that, the name, too, is there; they’re not rebels in the new movies, they’re the Resistance, right?

Oren: Well, they were until in Last Jedi, when they just kind of gave up the ghost and were like, ‘no. We’re not the Resistance anymore. Now we’re the Rebellion.’

Wes: Oh my gosh.

Oren: And it’s like, ‘okay, you guys know the Republic fell like, last week, right?’ [Wes laughs] ‘You guys are actually the government loyalists, and the First Order are the rebels.’ [laughter] So, it’s- it made even less sense in…. whatchamacallit? The Force Awakens, where it was like, ‘we’re the Resistance.’ And the- who are you resisting?

And it was just, ‘I don’t know. We’re resisting the First Order somehow? Even though the Republic is the government?’ And the only explanation for this is like, ‘go read fifty tie-in novels. That’s the only way that this will even kind of begin to make sense.’

Chris: Yeah.

Oren: Because- you know, tie-in novels are- even though the old EU is officially gone, the tie-in novels are continuing the long-standing tradition of trying to make sense of nonsense that the Star Wars movies do. [laughter] That’s the biggest job of tie-in novels in Star Wars.

Chris: That is definitely at odds. I think, related to that; the new Star Trek: Discovery has a couple of really weird, contradictory things. I think the first thing does not even- getting that far into the plot is- if you look at Discovery, you have to ask the question, ‘is this the future or the past?’ [Wes laughs]

Oren: Yep.

Chris: Because they decided that canon-wise, it’s going to take place in the past; it’s going to take place between The Original Series and Enterprise. And they even have an opening- the opening theme for Discovery definitely plays off of ‘this is the past,’ thing. We’ve got these kind of retro-looking sketches. It’s a really nice opening.

But then, as soon as you look at the show, and start watching the show, you’ll see that they all- all of the effects, it looks super glossy. It looks more futuristic, and they also have this really advanced spore drive technology that’s like, more advanced than any of the warp technology that’s happened, even in Voyager.

And that can not only travel- carry your ship instantly anywhere, but it can also go to other universes and just-

Oren: Right, just go wherever.

Chris: And that- you know, they built their whole plot around that, but that’s just inherently at odds with the setting that show in the past. And it does have- give you some of that prequel syndrome, where now we have to find a weird way to explain why nobody will ever use this technology ever again. [laughs]

Oren: And so far, they actually haven’t. So far, the best explanation, at the end of season one, is that they’re going to try and find a non-human interface, cause currently, the way they were using it was plugging a person into it. And that’s it. That’s their only explanation.

Chris: And their explanation for why it’s bad that a person plugs into it is just like, ‘well, it’s illegal.’ It’s like, if that kind of technology was at stake, it would become legal pretty fast. [laughs]

Oren: Right. My favorite part about that is, in Discovery, they establish that if anybody anywhere in the multiverse- cause remember, the spore drive connects to everywhere. If anyone anywhere in the multiverse does a wrong thing with the spore drive, it will wipe out life across all universes.

Which is like, ‘okay, first of all, just by probability, we would all be dead, because there are infinite universes; and so, if someone in one of them has done this thing- [Chris and Wes laugh] But like, even if we ignore that and pretend that there are a finite number of universes, that’s actually a reason to rush this technology as quickly as possible, cause you need to be able to go and shut someone down if they start doing…

Chris: You need to call the police in all universes in existence to make sure nobody abuses this in some inadvertent way.

Oren: ‘Nobody abuse the spore drive, cause we will literally all die!’ [Wes laughs]

Chris: I feel like that was part of a trend that I’ve seen in like, some tv shows, where I feel like people are raising the stakes unnecessarily. Like, normally having high stakes is good, but as long as the stake matters- I think Oren has discussed this on the blog; as long as the stake matters, having it even bigger is not necessarily going to actually have a real impact, and so, it’s enough that the entire crew of Discovery dies.

I don’t think that that often you need to raise the stakes to the entire multiverse collapsing. And there was another situation like this in- and this is another show we’ll probably talk about this episode: The Librarians, where they, in season four, find this forest that has this central grandfather tree, and if you cut down- at first it just says, ‘if you cut down the grandfather tree, all forests in the world will die.’

It was like, ‘okay, that was pretty big stakes. I don’t want all forests to die, so I think those are compelling stakes.’ And then later, they decide to up it and be like, ‘oh, and the rest of life will die, too.’ What? [Wes and Oren laugh] This really feels excessive and unnecessary, and not really realistic. I… [laughs]

Wes: There’s like, a hyperbole conspiracy among all these show writers. Like, ‘no, man, we really gotta convince them that this is serious, so we’re just gonna say that everything dies! All of the time.’ [Wes and Chris laugh]

Oren: Well, I mean, that’s a separate problem with Discovery, is that in Discovery, they just can’t help themselves. Every piece of dialogue has to be grand and impactful and full of metaphor, and it’s honestly one of the things that bothers me most about Discovery. And they do this to Burnham, and the actress is doing her best just trying to make this dialogue seem meaningful.

But I just can’t take most of what Burnham says seriously, because… it’s just nonsense! And it’s just like, everything she says has to be giant and big and sweeping and be like, ‘oh, well I’m talking to you, and this minor thing that you said, that reflects our entire relationship.’ And it’s like, ‘it doesn’t, actually. It actually doesn’t.’ [laughs] So, that’s a separate problem with Discovery.

But yes, the whole concept of raising the stakes past the point where they have any meaning, I see that a lot; the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix does that, where in the first book, if the bad guy wins, he’s going to turn the whole world into zombies, and in the next book, if the bad guy wins, they’re going to destroy the universe. And it’s like, ‘I don’t- I was already- turning the world into zombies, that was already as bad as it could get for me.’ [Chris and Wes laugh]

Chris: But yeah, it basically breaks the world, and it doesn’t help your plot. So… yeah.

Oren: So, to address it a little bit- cause we talked about how they could fix this, okay. So, we’ve jumped to three different universes that do this, so I want to backtrack. I want to rewind. Okay, so, with Star Wars: this is kind of tricky, because obviously, a lot of studio mandates going on here.

Like, obviously, the best solution would have been to just drop this idea that Star Wars needs to be about rebels rebelling against an empire, and just have it be, ‘now, they’re in charge, and now they have to deal with stuff.’ But unfortunately, the message everyone learned from the prequels is that you can’t have politics in Star Wars, as opposed to, the prequels were bad and they should feel bad. [Chris and Wes laugh]

So, unfortunately, we’re not allowed to do that, no politics in Star Wars. That’s the new mantra. So, I guess, with that requirement, and the requirement that it has to be a rebellion… okay, why not just make the Republic evil?

Wes: Yeah.

Oren: I mean, that would be a little annoying, cause it would feel like, ‘oh, well. Everything that the main characters accomplished was for nothing.’ But you do that anyway. Everything the characters built gets blown up in like, the first act of TFA. So just commit to it. Have the characters be like, ‘we won, we defeated the Empire, we created the Republic, and then the Republic turned evil, and now we’re rebelling against it.’ [laughs]

That’s just the best solution I could think of with all of their weird requirements in play.

Chris: And I mean, there is a grain of truth to that, where it’s- different skills to win a revolution than it does to actually govern, so that’s probably not all that uncommon.

Oren: Well, that would be incredibly realistic of the way that revolutions tend to work, right? Usually, by the time you’re- not 100%, but usually by the time a society gets to the point where it’s ready to violently overthrow its government, things are going to get worse before they get better, just as a rule.

Because the sort of people who launch violent revolutions tend to be bad people. Just like, as a rule, they don’t tend to be the kind of people who would make good rulers.

Chris: I would also say that, with- if you did something like that, so it doesn’t feel super repetitive, having the Republic be evil in a different way than the Empire would help. Like, if it’s still supposedly a democracy- there isn’t actually a dictator, but it’s super corrupt, where there’s a lot of nepotism going on, people are getting bought off, and now it basically belongs to a bunch of slavers who are behind the strings controlling things with money.

And then the Sith are involved, because the Sith are evil. [laughs] Okay? We have to have the Sith involved somehow. But it could still feel different, and not just like you’re repeating the same thing over and over again.

Oren: Yep, I agree. I think that would have worked. For Star Trek- for Discovery: okay, first of all, just set it in the future. [Chris laughs] Set it post-Voyager.

Chris: Yeah. There must have been- in Discovery, there must have been some sort of conflicting visions between different people or something, cause it is very strange, where it does feel like there’s two different storytellers who had a different idea and had this weird sort of compromise.

Oren: The best I can imagine is that someone in that room really, really wanted the Klingons to be the bad guys. I don’t know why, because the Klingons that they use are garbage. But like, that was someone’s idea, was that ‘it needs to be Klingons. They need to be the bad guy. And we can’t justify that post-Deep Space Nine, so it’s gonna be the past, with the Klingons.’

But that is also a problem, because the Klingons that they set up are murderous space cannibals, but they want to do complex moral plots with them. So, that was a different issue.

Chris: That’s the other world versus plot issue that happened with Discovery. We might as well go into it because you mentioned it. They clearly wanted to do a morally gray plot with dilemmas, but they did not set up a world with a morally gray conflict. They set up a world where space cannibals attack the Federation for pretty much no reason- [laughs] -and want to completely wipe them out and decimate them, destroy Earth, everything.

Everything possibly bad- [laughs] -they will do it. And they cannot be reasoned with. They do not have complex motivations; they just want to kill things.

Oren: Oh, man; that’s my favorite part of this whole Klingon arc, is- they finally sort of explain why the Klingon religious zealot guy engineered this whole thing, and it was apparently to unite the Klingon Empire, because they are kind of fractious. But for what? That part was never explained.

It was like, ‘okay, apparently you don’t want to do anything with it,’ because at the end, the lady who wanted to unite them is fine with just making peace, as long as she gets to be in charge. What problem were you looking to solve by doing that?

Chris: Why do you want to unify the Empire?

Oren: Right, why is that so important?

Chris: It’s very strange. And it- they want Lorca to seem menacing with him like, inventing new weapons and stuff, but that only works if you have a morally gray situation where you could actually make things worse. Where you could- maybe you should be making peace instead?

But when you have it very clearly one-sided, where one side is the aggressor, the other side is just trying to defend their own lives, there’s nothing weird or menacing about the people who are trying to defend themselves making better weapons. It just doesn’t work.

Oren: Yeah. So, they would have needed- in order for that conflict to work, they would have needed a much more- I mean, first they probably would have needed more time. Part of the problem is that they were trying to do this in a season of fifteen episodes. Whereas Deep Space Nine took like, three seasons to build up to that kind of conflict.

Chris: That is very true. It is astounding how much Discovery covered in just one season. Definitely trying to fit in too much.

Oren: So, they’re definitely trying to do too much. But that issue aside, if they wanted to set up an actual complex enemy, they could do that. They could also just meet a new alien species that wants to kill them, and just do a straight-up war story. That’s also acceptable. You got options.

So, okay: set it in the future, with some alien species that are not the Klingons, and then just have that, and you know you’re good. [laughter]

Chris: Should we talk more about- I mentioned The Librarians. Or do you have a story you want to talk about, Wes, before I move on?

Wes: I mean, I think we’re eventually going to get to Harry Potter, so we can wait on that and talk about The Librarians first. Let’s do that. We’ll probably have Harry Potter things to say. [Wes and Chris laugh]

Oren: Alright. Librarians, then Harry Potter. Cause it’s not a Mythcreants podcast until we complain about Harry Potter. [laughter]

Chris: So, the central problem with The Librarians is the fact that- so, the premise. The premise of the story is that you have characters who work in this mystical, magical library- and it’s really more of a museum; it’s not really a library. [laughs] But it has books.

Oren: Right, that’s the first problem. [laughter]

Chris: I think they just liked the title ‘The Librarians’. The characters, their title is ‘the Librarian’. And it’s basically a Doctor Who ripoff.

Oren: Yes. It is literally a tv show made off of a bunch of like, B-movies from the mid-early Oughts that are just straight Doctor Who ripoffs. It is amazingly Doctor Who- even the music is Doctor Who-ish. It’s ridiculous.

Chris: So, it’s basically like a museum where the characters job is to go out and find magic artifacts and take them away and put them in the library. For storage. [laughs] That’s what they do. And the problem is justifying this activity. And they try to justify it by- like, they do find magic artifacts that are causing trouble, right? And so, they take them away.

But in general, they have this whole philosophy where like, ‘everything should be in the library. There should just be no magic artifacts sitting around, and that’s what gives our jobs meaning.’ And the explanation they give for this is that magic is bad? And corrupting? But it’s not.

Oren: Nope.

Chris: Also, it’s a very light show, which I think is part of the issue, is that, when you have something that’s corrupting- when you have magic that’s corrupting, that’s a pretty standard theme for cosmic horror, and it takes characters down very dark paths.

The Librarians is not a dark show, it’s a real light show, and they also wanted to be fantastical. They want to include magic in that show. And so, the only way to combine these things is to have- when they show magic- and the characters, they just have some magic powers. They just use magic when they feel like it, and they never face consequences. [laughs]

So, it’s a light show with magic, but the premise that the plot depends on means that magic is bad. And it’s just- there’s no way to reconcile those things, as far as I know. Although, Oren, do you have a recommendation for…?

Oren: Okay, okay, okay. I have a few recommendations. Librarians, the people making the show- which is no longer being made, so this is like, extra unimportant. But I still want you to pay attention.

So, first, if you can’t fix any of this problem, the inherent contradiction of a world in which magic is awesome but also the main characters job is to hide magic from everybody else, and they are the good guys: for gods sakes, don’t point it out. [Chris and Wes laugh] Don’t call attention to it. That’s just prodding a sore tooth at that point. Nothing good will come of it.

But that’s what they do in the first season; in the first season, the bad guys are a group who want to bring magic back to the world. And then, we find out later that they also want to cause an apocalypse, but that’s kind of unrelated to their goal of bringing magic back to the world. So, that is the first thing that I would do, which is that you have a ridiculous premise; don’t call attention to it. Just don’t. So that’s step one.

If you’re actually able to change things a bit, here’s one option that you could avoid having magic just be evil: you could do what the Dresden Files does, which is, magic’s not evil, but it does destroy technology. And I mean, again, that’s arbitrary and doesn’t make a huge amount of sense when you think about it. But if you accept it as a premise of the world, that’s a reason why magic needs to be locked away.

Because we live in a technological world where people depend on technology, and if technology stopped working, things would go bad fast. And that’s- you could make the argument that even though magic is cool, having some people who can shoot fire out of their hands is not worth losing modern medicine.

You could make that argument, and then you could still have magic be cool and fun, and the main characters could still use it for emergencies, but that would just solve so many problems.

Chris: Yeah. I think part of the reason why this show also got funny is the need to maintain the masquerade. The masquerade being a premise, particularly in urban fantasy, where we’re pretending that nobody knows about magic, even though usually your story depends on magic, but somehow nobody knows it exists.

And- cause I think about this- instead of just taking magic away, they could be- the library’s where they store it, but not only do they take it when it’s being inappropriately used, but they also give it out to people who need it. And I feel like the reason why they don’t have that premise with a back-and-forth, which actually makes sense for it being a library, cause you check things out. [laughs]

Is, if they’re giving magic to people who need it, then how does the masquerade still exist in the world? And so, it’s just- the masquerade is just a really hard thing to deal with in stories and deal with in worldbuilding, and as Oren said, the best thing you can do when you have a masquerade is just not- usually, not point it out.

Just have it there. Handwave it. Don’t call attention to it. It’s technically possible- it might be possible to have an explanation for it, but it is real tricky.

Oren: My favorite is in the fourth season, when suddenly the library is the source of human knowledge and creativity. [Chris laughs] It certainly wasn’t that before. [Wes laughs] It is now, and that’s the reason the library has to exist. Which is funny, because we’ve had things where the library was threatened with destruction before, and that was never a concern. [laughter]

Chris: Alright.

Oren: Alright, so I’ve tried to- I’ve fixed The Librarians, I’ve fixed Star Trek, and I fixed Star Wars, alright? I’m on a roll. Wes, what do you got for me?

Wes: Let’s talk about the Harry Potter prequels, to start.

Chris: Ooh, prequel. Fantastic Beasts?

Oren: [simultaneously] The Harry Potter prequels? I- okay- no. I surrender. I give up. It’s unfixable.

Chris: Yeah, no. Do you want to describe them for us?

Wes: I mean, it’s a good segue from The Librarians, because suddenly we’re in the USA, and yeah, there’s magic here, and there’s schools for magic. But you really can’t let anybody know about it, because otherwise there would be all-out war. And that’s bad.

Oren: Very bad.

Wes: Because the second those poor humans- wait, what do the Americans call the-

Oren: No-Maj. They’re called No-Maj.

Wes: No-Maj.

Oren: Which is definitely a term that will catch on and that anyone will ever use. [Chris laughs]

Wes: I’m gonna use it all the time. But yeah, the thought that if they find out about it, they’re going to suddenly, like, ‘oh my gosh, we have to lock these people up. Lock them up! And then make sure they don’t magic us.’ [Chris laughs] And the wizards are afraid that they’re going to like… shoot them or burn them? When we already know that that’s not a problem. At all.

Oren: No. [Wes laughs] Not only do we know that’s not a problem, but the entire plot of the first seven books is based around the idea that wizards are a threat to muggles and that Voldemort wants to take over muggles, and the only thing stopping him from doing that is other wizards. That’s literally the plot of the first seven books. [laughter]

Chris: And the thing about the first seven books; once again, they didn’t point out this too hard, but their explanation for why wizards were working so hard to hide magic from muggles was honestly for- it sounded like, largely for the muggles’ benefit, that like, ‘what’ll happen if they know is that they’ll all want magic from us all the time.’

And of course, it’s just dismissed as like, ‘oh, it’s best- we’re best left alone,’ but if you think about that, it’s like, ‘well, what will inevitably happen is a power structure where the wizards are on top and the muggles are on bottom. That wouldn’t really be great for muggles.’ [laughs]

Oren: Yeah. That’s entirely the premise, and the whole concept of the secrecy is that we need to protect muggles from wizards. And apparently, that’s just not the case anymore.

Chris: And this same premise- again, the problem with this is that it just comes with a very basic misunderstanding of how power and privilege works in human societies, and it’s- there’s a lot of books that have this like, ‘oh, we’re oppressed because we have magical powers’ premise, and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work at all. It’s like saying ‘I’m oppressed cause I have [sleazy] monnney.’ [Wes laughs]

Wes: ‘What do I do with it?’

Chris: ‘Look, I have all this money that I can use to buy goods and services. It’s just too much, and people resent me cause they know I could use this money against them. So, they’re going to lock me up.’ That’s not how that works.

Oren: [whiny] ‘I’m so good at basketball! Everyone hates me because I’m so good at basketball!’ [laughter]

Chris: So, it’s not like it’s impossible to make- you basically have to be willing to give your magic a very serious downside in order to make anything like this even remotely work. And most people aren’t. They’re not willing to give their… Does the magic just automatically hurt people whenever it’s used, so they have a reason to hate it? Does it come with a serious disadvantage for the person wielding it that almost offsets the good it does? Does it-

But people, writers, storytellers, are not usually willing to go there, and so, unless you’re willing to go there, there’s no way you could create a situation where people are oppressed for having magic.

Oren: Right. And I feel like I should point out something, that if an author wants to do that to create a situation where having a special power does come with such a significant downside that some kind of discrimination or oppression against that kind of person occurs in the setting, I do want to point out that, while that story is valid, you want to be careful about comparing it to real-world struggles, because that’s not the case in real-world struggles.

This blew up recently; in one of the more recent Deus Ex games, which are cyberpunk games, where the discrimination is against people with cybernetic enhancements. And the people who made the most recent game appropriated some Black Lives Matter language in their game.

And this raised a lot of hackles, both because white people were appropriating Black Lives Matter language, but also because, in the premise of the story, people with augments can be hacked and used to murder other people. And in fact, that’s the premise of the story, is that that happened.

And so, a lot of Black Lives Matter activists objected to it, both because of the appropriation of language, but also because it was directly comparing hackable cyborgs to black people. Who are in fact not dangerous. And so, that’s just something to be aware of. It’s a valid story; just be careful of the dynamics that you’re pushing.

Chris: Yeah. Harry Potter prequels- I was actually going to bring up Harry Potter 7, which has a different problem. So, the big issue with Harry Potter 7 is, now this issue with Voldemort has escalated into an all-out Wizarding World War (at least just in England).

Oren: Right. A Wizarding English War. [Wes laughs]

Chris: Or just Britain; it’s kind of hard to say how far it extends. But we’ve got a whole Wizarding World War, and Rowling clearly just doesn’t want to have a story about that. Which is- a lot of things- when the plot clashes with the world, a lot of times it’s just, that’s not what the writer actually wanted to write. And in this case she has, a lot of the times, Harry and Ron and Hermione just alone in the woods doing nothing, while there’s an entire war going on in the background.

And it’s just like, ‘why aren’t they coordinating their efforts with the Order of the Phoenix?’ And it’s like, all of the previous books, they were alone at school; there were reasons why they were doing this on their own.  And partly, the level of stakes was smaller, so it was easier to just dismiss, like, ‘oh, well, the adults think they have it covered, but we’re going to investigate it on our own.’

That works a lot better when the stakes are smaller, and you don’t have everyone involved in the conflict. And I think that there could have been a story about Harry and Hermione and Ron as part of a larger conflict. It was just clear that Rowling was trying to stick to more of the formula that was closer to the other books. Which she didn’t, really; I think she still didn’t really succeed in that. But I think she was, perhaps, caught between both sides.

Oren: I mean, I can think of a bunch of ways to fix book 7. Like, if nothing else, having Harry, Ron, and Hermione be part of the Order of the Phoenix insurgency against Voldemort’s regime sounds amazing, and I would love to read that book. But instead, we have to catch Horcruxes. [Wes laughs]

To fix the prequels- you know, Fantastic Beasts, is like: I want you to imagine that you are a film producer. And someone comes to you with a script for Harry Potter- excuse me, for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And I want you to imagine that you are that film producer. The way you would fix this is you would say ‘no.’ [Chris and Wes laugh] ‘We’re not making that movie.’

Chris: But Rowling wrote it, and we’ll make so much money!

Oren: It will make a lot of money. So, I guess, soothe your conscience with all the money you just made in this hypothetical scenario. [Chris laughs]

Wes: But now you have so many problems and everybody hates you. [Wes and Oren laugh]

Chris: You know, I have to wonder if one of the issues with Fantastic Beasts- probably not the only one, is that there does seem to be a divide in themes there, where- I think if I were to hazard a guess, Warner Brothers really wanted a film about beasts, cause they want a fun family film that plays off of the Harry Potter-verse that people love so much, with fun, quirky beasts, because that is definitely the type of thing that people loved about the Harry Potter-verse.

And Rowling wanted to write some epic thing about a war between wizards and muggles for some reason. Because- the weirdest thing about Fantastic Beasts is that the beasts are not even slightly important to the plot.

Oren: Not at all.

Chris: They could be completely removed. They don’t- [laughs] And the movie’s just trying to do too much. It’s clear that Rowling, in writing it, was not used to screenplays- was used to writing novels, and it was trying to do way too much, and if it had had a clear focus, it would have been- I still don’t think the wizards versus muggle warfare was good, but it probably would have been somewhat better if she had not been also trying to do the beasts at the same time.

Oren: Honestly, I just wish the movie was about the beasts.

Chris: Yeah, me too. I think the beasts were much better.

Oren: I think that would have been a potentially great movie, if it was just about Newt Scamander and his weird magic beasts, and not this weird war plot.

Chris: And maybe there was a conflicting- I know that there’s- that maybe they wanted a large franchise with multiple parts to get more audience views, right? Maybe they really wanted a part one of a longer story, and that’s also another reason why they did the whole war thing. But yeah, it would have been much better if we just- just do the beasts.

Oren: So, that’s the final lesson here, is stick to the beasts.

Wes: Stick to the beasts. [Chris laughs]

Oren: Because we are out of time. We have gone over a whole bunch of episodes recently, so we are going to sign off for now. Those of you at home, if anything we said piqued your interest, you can leave a comment on the website at Otherwise, we will talk to you next week. [closing song]


Chris: This has been the Mythcreants podcast. Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton.

P.S. Our bills are paid by our wonderful patrons. Could you chip in?

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