In the past, I have frantically pitched the idea of a Skulduggery Pleasant film series to Hollywood. The book series by Derek Landy is one of my favourite media properties of all time and since becoming a fan of the books I’ve always wanted to see a film on the big screen. Despite this, I’ve now come to the conclusion that a film would be more harmful to the franchise than good, and here are several reasons why-
- Fandom has become too toxic
I really don’t want to get into this but since roughly 2015 fan discourse has become ugly and unpleasant. It started with Star Wars and has slowly seeped into pretty much every fandom on the planet. I love Rick and Morty but during Season 3 I had to take a break from the insane fandom, The Last Jedi is SOMEHOW still promoting nonsensical hot takes and earlier this year we saw the ridiculous Captain Marvel “controversy”. And don’t even get me started on the latest season of Doctor Who, where every last detail of every episode was scrutinised in order to prove that a female Doctor was bad (fun fact- only one of eleven episodes actually has her gender as a plot point). The worst episode in that series would have been bad regardless of the character’s gender. Fandom has, to be honest, incredibly toxic to be around. It’s gotten so bad a franchise like the Terminator, which is built on its strong female lead, is now getting criticisms of being “SJW!!!” because that same female character is returning. Ridiculous. A female character introduced in a major franchise? A black character? Anyone that isn’t a straight white male? Obviously it’s bad. I don’t even watch Game of Thrones but became so fed up with the constant fan whinging and entitlement over the latest series it’s honestly put me off checking out the show.
Simply put, I do not want Skulduggery Pleasant, a franchise I love, to be caught up in this. We KNOW the usual corners of the internet will go on about how the series’ strong female characters (three of the five principal characters) are a sign of a “lEfT WiNG” agenda and that would only be scratching the surface if Disney or Warner Bros releases the film. I’m sure both would handle the franchise fine BUT if either company gets Skulduggery Pleasant the film will be caught up in the stupid Disney vs WB war that neither company actually engage in but “fans” do. Disney has a massive hatedom (to be honest, I ain’t keen on them as a company either) and this is mostly led by DC “fans” who use every Warner Bros property as an act of war against Disney. Unrelated franchises like Pokemon, Godzilla and Harry Potter are used by people, mainly the insane Snyder Cut cult, to spite Disney and I’m not having Skulduggery Pleasant involved in this ugliness.
- A television show is far more appropriate
We are in a golden age of genre television. Thanks to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime we’re getting countless fantasy/sci-fi television shows. Obviously there’s the juggernaut that is Stranger Things (which thankfully did not devolve into the toxic fandom wars over Season 3-proof that it was a great season) but recently there’s been a resurgence of television shows that evoke Skulduggery Pleasant in terms of tone, style and how a series based on the books could be made. This year has seen several great shows like The Umbrella Academy, Good Omens and The Boys, all great genre television shows that show long-haul serialised storytelling is the future of television. We have an upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand and an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman as well as the BBC’s His Dark Materials show to look forward to as well. Skulduggery Pleasant would be appropriate for this style of show- a book could be an eight episode season, or perhaps the trilogies (Faceless Ones, Necromances, Darquesse and Abyssinia) could be split up in three Sherlock length seasons or split episodes like Luther. As it’s a risky property based on a somewhat cult book series, I doubt a major film studio would risk a lot and knowing the modern film industry there’s a chance it could be mismarketed or underfunded. With Netflix or Amazon though, the franchise is in safe hands as they can invest the proper time and resources needed.
- It would stop being a special franchise to me
Skulduggery Pleasant is my “hidden” fandom. Whilst most things I like are quite popular and well known, Skulduggery Pleasant is that hidden cult thing that barely anyone even knows anything about. Even things like Firefly, Futurama and Rick and Morty, whilst quite obscure by mainstream standards, are still known in nerd circles and merchandise stores. Skulduggery Pleasant on the other hand is “my” franchise- the thing I’m obsessed with almost religiously that I can enjoy without pointless fan arguments or debates. The fandom for this series is small but passionate and if a film is made it will get a much larger audience. On the surface this is a good thing as more people will be exposed to Derek Landy’s work but on the other hand several things will happen. Not only will the aforementioned fandom wars start, but the book fans will inevitably clash with the people who see the film first and that can get ugly too. The franchise will become just another Hollywood property and that, to me, will make it lose what is so special to me. I feel like a television show can negate this somewhat but a major film franchise will make Skulduggery Pleasant mainstream and as elitist as this sounds I don’t really want that in retrospect. This book series prides itself on being obscure, weird and it functions at Derek Landy’s own pace and time. Think of all the additional pressure he’ll have to write more books. There’s also every chance that a film could be absolutely dreadful and make the name a joke in Hollywood circles like Percy Jackson. And then we’ll have people who don’t read books passing judgement on the series based purely on one bad film.
Now, will I complain if a film is made? Absolutely not. I would still love to see a television show one day as I think that has a better chance of telling the story correctly but a film would be fun to see as long as it’s at least somewhat faithful to the text. Or, perhaps, Hollywood could come up with an original idea and make a franchise from that.