Canon Ruins Everything

By Zack Zagranis | Published

If I had to name one thing that has single-handedly ruined geek culture over the last twenty years, I wouldn’t even have to think about my answer. It’s canon. The concept of divine continuity in which every minor story beat and character appearance has to fit into a larger whole has made comics, movies, games, etc., much less fun than they used to be.

Fandom Shouldn’t Be A Job

The fact that I can make a TikTok about a Boba Fett story from the ’90s and have 30 mouth-breathers scramble to the comments to tell me, “that story isn’t canon!” chills me to the bone. What happened to this stuff being fun? When did being a Star Wars fan become a job?

Did you know that Superman uses a giant key the size of a bus to open his fortress of solitude? Oh, wait, never mind. That’s not canon anymore, so obviously, it’s not worth talking about.

It’s as if nerds and geeks collectively decided that if something isn’t part of the up-to-date canon of its respective universe, it doesn’t count. As if any of this counts! It’s all make-believe and pretend, and there are no actual rules.

Lore Contradictions Are Surprisingly Common

I know it sounds like a case of “Old Man Yells At Cloud,” but I swear it’s not. I’m not saying that the content itself was better when I was younger, just the attitudes surrounding it. We didn’t care so much if things were or weren’t “canon” back then as long as we had fun watching/reading them.

Lore contradictions in Star Wars/Star Trek/Comic books, etc., used to happen all of the time, and nobody put up too much of a stink. Well, the Star Trek fans did, but they’ve always been a bunch of pedantic nerds.

I say that with a heart full of love for my Trekkie brethren. But c’mon, it’s not like you guys don’t know it’s true.

Writers Can Still Be Consistent Without Canon

Writers were too focused on telling a good story without worrying whether it contradicted canon. These days, we have story groups and lore keepers whose sole job is to ensure that writers don’t break any established canon. It’s all very coordinated and pre-planned instead of being organic and off the cuff the way storytelling should be.

I’m not saying there should be no attempt to keep things consistent. Obviously, it would be weird if Wolverine suddenly had wings and a prehensile lizard tongue and there was no explanation whatsoever. But if an X-Men writer forgets Cyclops’s optic blasts aren’t lasers for one issue and shows them burning through something, who does it hurt?

Batman Has Been Doing His Own Thing For Ages

Despite what the MCU would have you believe, canon wasn’t a big deal in comics until fairly recently. Superman and Batman might work together in the Justice League, but their solo comics were pretty self-contained. Heck, since 1940, Batman has starred in two monthly titles, Batman and Detective Comics.

Frequently, those series would have two different story lines going on simultaneously. How can Batman be in two places at once? Shut up, that’s how.

Even Stan Lee Made Fun Of The Trolls

stan lee

Seriously, the Hulk’s full name is Robert Bruce Banner because Stan Lee forgot his own character’s name and started calling him Robert. Could you imagine if that happened today? The trolls online would have a field day!

Canon was so inconsequential that Marvel used to give fans who pointed out continuity errors in comics something called a No-Prize. It was essentially an empty envelope poking fun at just how much discovering an inconsistency was worth. Yup, once upon a time, Stan Lee used to actually make fun of comic fans who held canon in high regard.

Make Fandom Fun Again

I would love to see a Star Wars project that doesn’t fit the current canon or an MCU movie that doesn’t connect to everything else around it. Sadly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

If watching The Acolyte taught me anything, it’s that things are only going to get worse before they get better. I don’t know about you, but having to consult a spreadsheet before I watch a new TV show or movie just to make sure I know how everything ties together sounds like more work than it’s worth. When did downtime hobbies become more stressful than our actual jobs?