Fan-made media is great, but let’s leave it at that

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.

When I was younger, I complained a lot about things that I wanted. Video games, movies, and toys were just a few of the things I threw tantrums over. When I started acting like this, my dad would tell me something that I still haven’t forgotten: “Sometimes the anticipation of having something is better than actually having it.”

It’s only now that I realize how right he was.

Fan-made media (like fake movie trailers, fake movie posters, and fan fiction) is some of the most fun stuff to watch, look at, and read. It lets us drool over what could be. And usually, since it’s made by diehard fans, it’s a lot better than what we’re used to seeing. This is especially true when it comes to video game-inspired media.

Sometimes, these fan-made posters, stories, or movie trailers are so popular with the public that major studios take notice. They grab it up from the original creator and turn it into another lackluster attempt to make money.


Here’s an example: In 2010, a little-known director named Kevin Tancharoen spent $7,500 of his own money to produce and direct a short film called Mortal Kombat: Rebirth. Inspired by the popular fighting-game franchise, the short gave more realistic plots and backstories to some of the more well-known characters.

Here’s the film in its entirety:

The film was met with great approval, and Tancharoen then pitched it to Warner Bros. as a possible trailer for a full-length movie. They didn’t greenlight that idea, but they did agree to produce a web series called Mortal Kombat: Legacy that would be based on Rebirth.

Warner Bros. then took control away from Tancharoen and organized a “creative team” that would write and produce all of the episodes, with Tancharoen overseeing. They were worried that Tancharoen’s new view would be met with criticism from fans and decided to take the series in the opposite direction…in other words, more like the video game series.

In my opinion, it didn’t go well.

Here is the first part of the web series:

The original few episodes were boring and nothing new. Based on the short film, I thought we were going to see a whole new Mortal Kombat; one that would redeem the series from the terrible movies of the mid-‘90s. Instead, what we got were those movies recreated in web-series form. I was incredibly disappointed.

That changed with the sixth episode. It included a note from Tancharoen that stated he was given sole creative control and that it was written in the original style he had first envisioned. It was 10-times better than the previous five that I had struggled to sit through and it featured a different take on one of my favorite characters, Raiden.

Here’s the episode if you’d like to watch it:

I guess the main point I’m trying to make is this: Fan-made media is awesome, but it’s only awesome because it’s fan-made.

Until making movies and television shows stops being about the money, and until studio heads stop feeling the need to pander to the lowest-common denominator, fan-made media will never have a home at major studios. Maybe we should just leave it alone, no matter how excited we are about a favorite franchise.

It turns out that sometimes, as I witnessed with Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, the anticipation of having something is sometimes better than actually having it.

Oh and by the way, a second season of Mortal Kombat: Legacy is still actually coming.

You can follow me on twitter at @thyjordo.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 2.00.11 PMGamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!
blog comments powered by Disqus

GamesBeat is your source for gaming news and reviews. But it's also home to the best articles from gamers, developers, and other folks outside of the traditional press. Register or log in to join our community of writers. You can even make a few bucks publishing stories here! Learn more.

You are now an esteemed member of the GamesBeat community. That means you can comment on stories or post your own to GB Unfiltered (look for the "New Post" link by mousing over your name in the red bar up top). But first, why don't you fill out your via your ?

About GamesBeat