Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Dawn Has Come: Dragon Age: Inquisition

I haven't mentioned it very often (probably because I'm on a hot streak if I make two blog posts within two months of each other), but I'm a HUGE BioWare fan.  Knights of the Old Republic was the game that first got me into gaming, and I've played Mass Effect more times than I can count.  I absolutely love the games they've put out, but before last year, there was one franchise they had released that I had never tried: Dragon Age.

This wasn't because I disliked fantasy games or was put off by the franchise, mind you.  The truth was, it was just one of those things I had always planned on getting around to, and never did.  But I did finally play Origins last year, and I was blown away.  The characters were all very interesting, it had a plot that was complex yet easy to follow, and it was fun to experiment with different powers, especially as a Mage.  When I discovered how fun that game was, I knew I'd be following the rest of the franchise, which brings us to today's topic, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

The game came out at the tail end of the last year, and it couldn't have come at a better time.  BioWare has been catching a lot of flack the last several years over their games, from the rushed and unfinished Dragon Age II to the poor ending of Mass Effect 3.  Then add the giant cauldron of badness that has been the GamerGate Affair (this is referring to the situation, not any particular movement), and gamers needed something they could latch onto as a genuinely great game, and BioWare needed to prove that they could still make games that people could love.  Thankfully, Inquisition delivered all this and more. Inquisition is a marvelous game, delivering a stupendous story, gorgeous graphics, a superb score, and some incredibly fun game play.

It's tough to talk about the game without giving away spoilers about the other two, but I'll do my best to accomodate readers who are unfamiliar with the world.  The story begins in the land of Thedas, where a war has broken out.  The Chantry leader, Divine Justinia (think a female Pope), has called for a truce among both sides, and asked their highest leaders to meet at a Conclave to begin peace talks.  However, disaster strikes when a magical explosion destroys the Conclave and opens a Breach in the sky.  This Breach has shattered the barrier between the normal world and the Fade, the realm of dreams and demons.  The explosion left only one survivor, a person with a mysterious mark on their hand that gives them the power to close the Breach.  Naturally, this is the character that you, the player, control.  You can make them male or female, and can choose from one of four races: Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and Qunari (think large, muscular humans with horns on their heads).  You can also choose from three classes, Warrior (powerful front-line fighters), Rogue (stealthy backstabbers or quick-footed archers), or Mage (magic users).

Once you've created your character, you're thrust into a world torn by chaos, and must work with Justinia's agents to reform an ancient movement called the Inquisition.  Together, you must work to reunite the forces of Thedas, discover who was responsible for the explosion at the Conclave, and gain the power to close the Breach and save the world.  No big.

As you might expect, this is a MASSIVE game.  While it does provide most of the backstory necessary to understand what's going on, you're probably better off starting with playing Dragon Age: Origins if you want to get into the franchise.  Thedas is a rich setting, and there's plenty of lore that isn't even important to the game to discover.  In addition, the game features many returning characters from previous entries, so you'll get a much better effect if you play this after the first one, and maybe after Dragon Age II.  But if you're not into the story, and are just here for a fun game, you can ignore most of this and jump right in.

One thing long-time BioWare fans will notice immediately is the change in tone between this and their previous works.  Their most recent output has generally been very pessimistic, or at the very least unusually dark, even for them.  Inquisition, while certainly not light fare, is much more optimistic about the hero's chances.  Much of this is linked to the game's biggest departure from the standard BioWare formula: rather than joining a well-established order as a new recruit, you're helping to put a new one in place, and function as one of it's key players.  You're still leading a ragtag group of heroes, but the difference is that the ragtag group is an army of diplomats, soldiers, and spies, rather than a small band of adventurers.  While there is pressure to save the world, you have a lot of support behind you.

No BioWare game would be complete without a memorable cast, and Inquisition delivers.  From returning fan favorites like Morrigan, Leliana, and Varric, to fun new characters like The Iron Bull and Dorian, to interesting villains, this cast is more than strong enough to carry the game.  You'll get most familiar with your companions, who will go with you when you venture out into the world. Their unique individual stories are some of the best parts of the game, and getting to know them can be a lot of fun.  You probably won't like them all, but odds are you can find one or two you won't want to leave your party.

The production values of the game are great.  The environments are rich with detail, and help the game come alive.  The sound design is really good as well, and you can hear every wave crash against the shore.  But what really takes the cake is the score.  This is one of the best scores ever put in a game, and it brilliantly conveys the emotions of the scenes.  From the powerful, building sound of the main theme, to the triumphant Journey to Skyhold, to the relaxing tavern songs you'll hear playing in bars, each sets the mood perfectly, and they all sound beautiful, even when taken out of context.

Gameplay mechanics are functionally the same across all classes and play styles, and work fairly well.  There's room for a lot of nuance in how you play, so you can experiment and find out what works best for you.  And if you find that you don't like some of the abilities you picked out, retraining is just a smithy away.

Overall, Dragon Age: Inquisition is an amazing success.  It brings back the classic BioWare sensibilities, while meeting next-gen capabilities head-on.  If you're unfamiliar with the franchise, now's a great time to find out what you've been missing, and if you're a veteran of the Fifth Blight or Kirkwall, you won't want to miss this installment.  The dawn has arrived for BioWare, and it looks like there's plenty of time left in the Dragon Age.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marvel Films Announces Phase 3 Line-Up!

The Line-Up:

Well, it all finally happened.  We now have a good idea of what's about to go down with Marvel in the next few years.  So here's the official timeline:

May 6, 2016: Captain America: Civil War

November 4, 2016: Doctor Strange

May 5, 2017: Guardians of the Galaxy 2

July 28, 2017: Thor: Ragnarok

November 3, 2017: Black Panther

May 4, 2018: Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1

July 6, 2018: Captain Marvel

November 2, 2018: Inhumans

May 3, 2019: Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2

Other Announcements:

Obviously, this line-up change means that Ant-Man is now a Phase 2 film, and will round out that group of movies for Marvel.  Of interesting note about this new line-up are the risks being taken.  Four new franchises are being started, compared to Phase 2's, well, two.  While there are obviously sequels here, there's a good balance with new material.  In addition, it's been announced that Captain Marvel will in fact be Carol Danvers, bypassing the Kree Captain.  However, the most concrete announcement we've gotten is that Chadwick Boseman has signed on to play the Black Panther, and will make his first appearance in CA: CW.

My Thoughts:


This is a LOT to take in.  I mean, there was so much set up with this announcement.  So let's try tackling this chronologically, before hitting my overall thoughts.

So according to Kevin Feige, serious stuff is happening in Age of Ultron, and that's going to lead into Civil War.  Alright, it's good to hear that they're taking a different approach to things.  Shaking things up should be good for the franchise.  I look forward to seeing more from AoU, and hopefully I'll enjoy it.

Ant-Man has had very little attention, and I don't expect it to get much for a while.  After all, we've got to publicize the new Avengers movie.  This does kind of worry me, though.  Are they keeping things under wraps because they haven't been going well?  It's no secret that Ant-Man has had a troubled production, and I can't help but worry that this might be a case where that spells doom for the movie.  On the other hand, Apocalypse Now had a legendarily bad production experience, and look how that turned out.  So I'll continue to watch and wait for more news.

So.  Civil War.  It had some good tie-ins, especially the Spider-Man one, but it just wasn't thought through well enough.  Hopefully, the Russo brothers can fix that for their version.  If Civil War itself wasn't great, it certainly had some good ideas, and in capable hands, it could turn out to be something extremely good.  Here's hoping.

Doctor Strange STILL doesn't have the title character cast yet, but all reports seem to point to Benedict Cumberbatch.  Of course, a few months ago all reports were pointing to Jocquain Phoenix, and we all know how that turned out.  Still, we can hope.  I for one would love for Cumberbatch to play the role, but if it doesn't work out, then hopefully they'll find a good actor eventually.

Not much to say about Guardians 2 beyond the fact that I'm happy to see more of them, and I'm curious if they'll bring up another Infinity Stone.

We knew Thor 3 had to come eventually, but it's good to hear that there's a plan.  I'm wondering where they're going to take things though, as Ragnarok is essentially the Norse equivalent to the Battle of Armageddon.  If they're going all the way with this, I'm going to be plenty intrigued.

Ah, Black Panther.  You were always an interesting figure, if an aloof one.  I've no idea who the actor playing him is, but I've learned to trust Marvel's casting at this point.  So, here's hoping we get to see another hit.  It would be neat to see Andy Serkis in this movie, if the rumors that he's playing Klaw are true.

No word yet on who's to play Captain Marvel, but I'd like to suggest Yvonne Strahovski, as have many other Chuck and Mass Effect fans.  She's a great actress with a surprisingly convincing American accent for an Australian, and she's not afraid to do stunt work.  I'd be more than happy to see her take on the role, if her name reaches the execs ears.

I know nothing about the Inhumans beyond the vague notion that they're a country of superheroes or something, so let's move on.

The Infinity War.  Well, it is a catchier name than Infinity Gauntlet.  I'm unsure why it's split into two parts though, especially considering the fact that it's got two films between the parts.  Is it possible that one part will cover the Gauntlet storyline, while the other covers the second/third Infinity events?  Food for thought.  It does raise the question of what exactly they'll be doing with Adam Warlock, the key player in the entire saga.  GOTG implied his existence, but didn't confirm it, so it's still up in the air as of now.  I really hope it doesn't turn into a Breaking Dawn situation, but if it does, I'll suffer through it.  At least it probably won't involve abortions and sparkly vampires.  But I do like that both parts are scattered, it makes me think that rather than splitting the story in half, each part will be its own story that feeds into the other.  But only time will tell.

Now for random other thoughts.  Obviously, the lack of anything involving Hulk, Black Widow, or Hawkeye is disappointing, but not surprising.  They've been dancing around the subjects for ages now, and I don't think we'll see anything for a while.  It does raise the question of whether Hawkeye might die, but I hope they'll keep him around and finally make more use of him.  This is suddenly making me want a movie where all three go off on their own adventure.  That could be pretty fun.

Now we get to an interesting point with this: the timing.  It was only last week that Warner Brothers (WB) announced their film line-up for the DC heroes.  So this begs the question, why was Marvel's line-up released now?  Did they decide now because they wanted to one-up WB?  To be honest, it wasn't that hard, given that Marvel's current reputation rivals PIXAR in its heyday, whereas WB only seems capable of big success when making Batman movies.  However, I will say that I'm trying to maintain a cautious optimism for the DCCU, as for now all we know is that Man of Steel wasn't the success we were all hoping for.

But this does raise an even bigger question: are we flooding the market?  Nearly everyone is trying to get a piece of the superhero pie, and I'm starting to worry that maybe we're overloading people.  If it gets to the point where people are starting to get tired, and something like Batman and Robin comes along, the whole thing could come crashing down.  That's a pretty gloomy thought, sure, but it's more than possible.  Now, I don't think superhero films will ever truly go away, don't get me wrong.  Even today, there are still some Westerns being made.  But this Golden Age of Superhero films can't last forever.  At some point, the bubble will burst, and the public's interest will move on.  But hopefully that won't be for a long while off.  As for now, well, I feel confident saying that despite some hiccups, it's a great time to be a comic book movie fan, and I can't wait until we get to see what's coming on the horizon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The end of the Star Wars Expanded Universe

Well, seeing as everyone else is talking about this, I might as well throw my hat into the ring.  For those who don't know, JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, the big-shots behind the new Star Wars movies, have declared the entire Expanded Universe null and void.  What is the Expanded Universe, or EU, you may ask?  Simply put, it's the large collection of novels, comic books, video games, and TV shows made for Star Wars that take place outside the events of the films themselves.  Fan debate over their quality is large, filled with rage, and often hilarious to those with a bit of sanity, but suffice it to say that there's so much of it that there is at least one part of it out there that you can probably enjoy.  If you read my blog post on Timothy Zahn's book, Survivor's Quest, then you already know that I'm fairly familiar with the EU.  As such, here's my take on what's going on.

The EU is a vast, complicated web of ideas and stories.  It's filled with lots of great things, and lots of horrible things, much like the movies themselves.  However, I do still hold a lot of love for it, and I know many other people do too.  And that's why I don't care that it got rejected from canon.

Yes, you read that right, I don't care.  It doesn't matter to me either way.  Why?  Because at the end of the day, 'canon' doesn't really matter.  Anyone can say these stories didn't happen, and they're right.  None of these happened.  The books didn't happen, the shows didn't happen, and even the movies never happened.  Does that stop these stories from existing?  No.  It just means that they have no bearing on the movies to come.  So what?  The games, the books, the shows, they're all still out there.  Their quality hasn't been affected by the fact that they're not a part of the new stories.  The effect they had on you can't be undone by simply saying they never happened, because you know what?  If you enjoyed them, then they happened for you, in your personal story.  Because a good experience, even if it has no tangible effects, still has the effect of entertaining you.  It still makes you happy.  Disney can tell me all they want about how the Thrawn Trilogy has no effect on their movies.  They can tell all the fans that The Force Unleashed is null and void.  They can shout from the heavens that Knights of the Old Republic never happened.  But they can't say the enjoyment I got out of them didn't happen.

My first video game was Knights of the Old Republic.  My Dad got it for my Mom when I was seven, and I loved watching her play it.  Once she beat it herself, she let me try the game, though she was the one manning the controls.  But I got to select my class, my dialogue, and my attacks, so essentially, I was the one calling the shots.  I loved it.  It was a unique world that I could affect in my own way, and I got to share the experience with my Mom, and we had fun together.  That's why I became a gamer in the first place.  It's why I played Mass Effect, which I now consider to be one of the greatest sci-fi franchises ever, horrible ending notwithstanding.  It's why I read the fun, elaborate, complex KOTOR comics.  It's why I discovered the rest of the EU at all.  That can't be taken away from me by words on a manuscript, or pictures flashed in front of my eyes at high speeds.  The only one who can invalidate that experience is myself, and that won't happen anytime soon.  Canon doesn't matter.  What matters is that the high-quality works of the EU are still high-quality, whether they affect the new movies are not.  The enjoyment we can have from them won't change.  The memories, entertainment, friendships, and happiness these things created are still there.  Because that's the thing about art: it's beauty lies with the beholder.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Avengers vs. The Dark Knight: Which is the best superhero movie?

When people talk about the great superhero movies, it's a bunch of names everyone knows that get passed around.  Superman the Movie, Superman 2, Batman (1989), X2: X-Men United, and Spider-Man 2.  But for the majority, the contest for best superhero movie comes down to a battle between two relatively young movies: The Dark Knight, and The Avengers (not the Sean Connery one).

But why are these the most popular?  Why can no one agree ultimately on which is better?  Why does the Fan Dumb on both sides feel the need to constantly be at war with each other?  Why do so many people argue in favor of TDK, when Avengers was one of the highest-grossing movies of all time?  And which one is the better film?  Okay, that last question is purely opinion based, so that's not really one that can be definitively answered.  But nevertheless, I shall attempt to tackle all of these today, and then proceed to ignore the inevitable backlash from the cults of Whedon and Nolan, assuming any of them actually bother to read this poor excuse for a blog.

The Dark Knight is often regarded as the movie that proved superhero films could actually have good stories, and be grounded in reality.  While its predecessor, Batman Begins, attempted this, it didn't ultimately achieve the same heights as the sequel.  But why?  Where did BB fail, but TDK succeed?  Well, I think the obvious answer is the villain.  Let's be honest, if you remember any Batman villains at all, The Joker is at the top of the list.  Not to mention the fact that Nolan and Ledger worked out an absolutely brilliant place to take the character.  I have seen many, many villains in film, but I can honestly say, The Joker ranks right up there with Hannibal Lecter as one of the best and most memorable.  Even if Ledger hadn't died, he'd still have been a serious contender for the Oscar.  The man has practically been martyred for the film now, and it's had a huge effect on its popularity.  It also does raise some good questions about how we deal with criminals in the real world, and at what point has the battle against crime escalated too far?  How do we keep ourselves from going too far?  And where is it that we finally draw the line?  This was a huge part of the movie, and it is a great debate.  Essentially, TDK did for superhero movies what Watchmen did for comic books, or at least something very similar.

So if TDK has so much going for it, why do so many people argue in favor of Avengers?  I think for that one, you need to look at the reasons people love that movie, and what made it different from TDK.  When people explain why they love Avengers, they often say the humor, the characters, the action, and essentially the fun.  Avengers is a very fun movie.  Most of the comics fans who love it say that it's like the comic was actually on the screen.  I think that's really the tipping point here.  TDK is all about taking Batman and The Joker, and changing them to apply to the real world.  Avengers is more about taking the world of the comics, and subtlety tweaking it just enough that it seems semi-plausible in the real world, but still maintains the spirit of fun and adventure from the comics.  Avengers openly embraces its origins, whereas TDK tries to steer away from them.  Both worked extremely well.  The difference is, you watch The Dark Knight to see something that, theoretically, could happen in our real world, but we certainly hope it won't.  But when you watch The Avengers, you're here to see something from a world that we absolutely do not live in, and yet, in a strange way, want to.  Because the possibilities of the world of the Avengers are way beyond anything in our world.  Anything can happen, and given enough time, it probably will.

So, where do I stand on this debate?  Well, prepare for controversy everyone, because what I'm about to say is probably going to upset someone.  I think The Dark Knight is better than The Avengers.  But, I think Avengers is a much more enjoyable movie.  While TDK does have some good enjoyable bits, it's just nowhere near the sheer fun of Avengers.  And it's not just the action, the humor and character bits in Avengers really outdo TDK.  Sure, TDK had very realistic characters, but can anyone seriously tell me they would rather watch Bruce Wayne than Tony Stark?  Come on.  The Avengers is at its core, everything we loved about the comics come to life.  Both movies transcended the boundaries of superhero films, but in different ways.  TDK deconstructed the superhero movie, and showed how these concepts would likely work in the real world.  Avengers reminded us why we fell in love with superheroes in the first place, and how they can be adapted to suit our needs as a changing audience.  TDK changed the unrealistic into the realistic.  Avengers took the realistic, and found a way to coexist with the unrealistic.  That's why Marvel's The Avengers is my favorite movie.  It's a movie that encourages us to dream of the impossible, and find a way to make it happen.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thoughts on HIMYM Part 2: Why the show's length makes sense

The most common complaint I've seen about How I Met Your Mother is that it's taking to long with actually meeting the Mother.  Now, I can understand that a lot of people think that since it's a foregone conclusion, they should just get on with it.  But when you step back and look at the whole picture, you start to realize that something Ted said in season 3 is very true: this isn't just about how he met the mother, it's also about how he became the person he needed to be to meet and fall in love with the Mother.  However, I'll one-up this by presenting an argument I haven't seen before, though I'm sure has been pointed out by someone before me somewhere.  The show's also about how Barney became the man he needed to be to meet the mother.

If you take a look at the early seasons, you can tell that Ted's the main character, and Barney's the goofy sidekick.  But as it goes on, Barney becomes more and more prominent in the story, to the point where he and Ted are practically deutagonists.  This is because Barney's growth was what ultimately lead him to marrying Robin, throwing the wedding where Ted finally met the Mother.  And, beyond that, the stories of how Barney and Ted met the love of their lives are inexorably linked.


If it weren't for Ted seeing Robin and falling in love with her at first sight, she and Barney would never have met.  That's a given, but the episode mentioned in the above spoiler warning (and if you seriously don't want spoilers, stop reading NOW!  Yes, NOW!!!) revealed that right between Splitsville and The Stamp Tramp, Barney tried to hook up with the Mother, failed, and was convinced by her to try to win Robin back in the most grand way possible.  Thus, the genesis of 'The Robin' play.  So both Ted and the Mother had a large role in causing their own meeting to take place, and Barney and Robin were also a large part of that process.

So yes, you could simply have Ted say "We met at your Uncle Barney and Aunt Robin's wedding", but here's the thing.  That may be quicker, but that's not really the story the show is trying to tell.  This is really a story about two things: first, the growth of two men who become better people in their quest for true love, and second, that sometimes when you think your life is going one direction, little things that you may not even notice can actually be leading you to somewhere even better than the place you thought you were going.  And believe it our not, that last part is also the story of how my Dad met my Mother.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My thoughts on the Current State of How I Met Your Mother

Okay, this is kind of mainstream for me, but I felt like writing about it.  And hey, it is my blog, so I can write about whatever the heck I want to write about.  It may not always be interesting to you, my awesome readers (seriously, anyone who bothers to read this little obscure blog written by a teen who's clearly not as good a writer as he thinks he is is awesome), but it's my blog, my rules.  Rule 1: Don't Panic.  Rule 2: Bring a towel.  Rule 3: I'll write whatever I want, regardless of its quality.  Anyways, HIMYM!

I was introduced to the show by a German exchange student we were housing 2 summers ago.  All it took to hook me was Neil Patrick Harris, who I had loved in Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.  Alyson Hannigan helped too, as by that point I was a converted Whedonite, and loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  For the next three weeks of his stay, we were binge-watching it all the way to season five.  After he left, I kept watching the show with my sister, and eventually got bored after the mess of the Arcadian arc in Season 6.  It didn't help that Netflix didn't go past that season at the time, so I had no way to catch up (legally, but I wasn't willing, and still am not, to explore illegal means of watching a show).  So, I watched the show on-and-off for over a year, and eventually my sister showed me that Season 8 was finally up.  When I learned that the Mother had finally been shown in the Season 8 finale, I decided to get back in the game, and we watched seasons 7 and 8, and got caught up with the current season through the CBS website.  After watching all that, I've come to a conclusion: the show may not be as funny as it once was, but it's definitely still worth watching.

There are a number of factors that led me to this conclusion.  First, it's the final season, and we're so close to the end, pulling out just doesn't seem worth it to me.  Second, I've seen the Mother, and I think the payoff will be worth it.  Third, when HIMYM does have a funny scene, it's every bit as funny as some of the best of the earlier stuff, particularly any scene the Mother is in.  Fourth: the emotional beats are as good as they've ever been.  Seriously, look at any scene where Barney is honest about his feelings to Robin, and tell me he hasn't matured.  It's really great to see him come so far.  And it's not just Barney, all of the characters have matured.  Robin, who abhorred the idea of marriage, is now going through with this wedding, if the scene of her at the reception in 'Band or DJ' meant what I though it meant.  Everyone on the show has grown from the first episode, which is part of the point of the show.  Barney and Robin had to grow up to get to the point where they could get married, Marshall and Lily had to grow into their role as parents, and Ted has to mature to be ready for meeting the Mother.  This at least, is one thing that hasn't changed at all about the show.  My problem with most sitcoms is that when they stop being funny and start focusing on the characters, the characters are written so poorly, it ceases to be worth watching for any reason.  HIMYM has, amazingly, avoided this.  Sure, it's not as consistently funny as it used to be, but it definitely has its moments, and the character bits do actually work (at least for me).

So, overall, I'd say that HIMYM is a show worth watching, even now.  It's got great characters, great stories, and some good jokes.  They don't hit dead-center like they used to, but they are still funny, nevertheless.  It's a show that's changed and grown with its characters, and it's still definitely worth a look if you have the time.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Browncoats: Obsessive Geeks or Unsung Heroes?

If you're one of the twenty people who normally read my blogs, chances are you know what a Browncoat is.  But, just in case, I'll explain anyway.  Browncoats are fans of the show Firefly, like how fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic are called Bronies (and sometimes Pegasisters).  However, if you don't know what a Browncoat is, you probably don't know what Firefly is either.  Firefly is a space western created by Joss Whedon, of Buffy and Avengers fame.  It starred Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, Morena Baccarin, Adam Baldwin (who is not one of the Baldwin brothers), Jewel Statie, Sean Maher, Ron Glass, and Summer Glau.  It first aired September 20, 2002, and was cancelled by December 20 of the same year.  So yes, Browncoats are essentially the fanbase of a doomed show.  But that then begs the question: are these guys obsessive morons clinging to a show that no one liked?  Or are they simply another large cult who just love their show?

Now, to answer that question, we're going to have to really delve into the mindset of a fan, and find out why they do what they do.  The Browncoats didn't grow overnight, after all.  We're also going to have to go into some of the history behind the show, and even explore the history of fandom in general.  Because while on the surface this looks like a simple question, it really isn't.  This is a question that, at it's very core, explores what passion truly is.

Fandoms have always been around.  They may not have always been called that, but the concept has been here since the dawn of time.  And that's simply because, at their core, each person is passionate about something.  Hunters are passionate about catching prey.  Architects are passionate about building.  Painters are passionate about art.  It's just something that's always been there.  And where there are passionate creators, there are people who are passionate at admiring their work.  How else did Mozart, Shakesphere, Da Vinci, and Van Gogh become the universally known figures they are today?  Their fans carry on their legacy, and spread it to the rest of the world.  But those guys are the great artists of their time, with universal recognizability today.  How can Whedon compare to them?

At the time, Joss Whedon was a somewhat recognizable name.  He had created the well-known Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it's counterpart, Angel.  Around this time, he read The Killer Angels, a book about the Battle of Gettysburg written by Michael Shaara.  The idea of exploring the frontier through the eyes of the people history stepped on intrigued him, and he eventually came up with Firefly.  I'll admit, I'm not exactly sure where the space idea came from, but it did have a huge effect on the show.  One thing Whedon was sure of was that he didn't want to make a sci-fi show like the then-current norm, which he felt was too pristine and rarefied.  In essence, he wanted to tell the story of a man who fought for the Confederates and had to deal with their loss, but in space.  The end result was one of the most unique shows in television history.  However, that was part of the problem.  Being a space western, the average viewer was unsure how to cope with this strange universe.  It didn't help that FOX, the network that aired the show, did make some poor decisions that ended up hurting the show in the long run.  It started when they decided the pilot episode, which introduced the characters and explained why they were on the Firefly-class ship Serenity, would not be aired, and instead they would air the second episode first.  This haphazard airing of the show would plague it for the rest of its short life.  The promos didn't help either, trying to make it look like an action show, when it clearly was not.  The final nail in the coffin was FOX airing it during the Friday night death slot.  With all these problems combined, Firefly was practically DOA.  So why do so many fans still cherish it today?

For many Browncoats, the main reason they love Firefly is the characters.  People love Mal, Wash, Zoe, Kaylee, Jayne, and the rest.  Their interactions and traits felt very identifiable to many people.  None of them were evil, and none of them were saints either.  They were just people trying to survive in an unforgiving world, something most us have gone through at one time or another.  Another reason is the humor, a staple of most Whedon productions.  However, the most surprising reason is also partly the reason for its demise: the world.  Many people find it an interesting, new world, that feels identifiable, unlike worlds like Star Trek's.  To clarify, these are Browncoat opinions, not mine.  I'm trying to leave my bias out of this, though it is difficult.  But whatever the reason, all Browncoats agree that cancelling Firefly was the dumbest thing FOX ever did.  So what did they do about it?

Once Firefly's cancellation was announced, the Browncoats joined together in outrage and sadness.  FOX received hundreds of e-mails and petitions pleading for the show to return.  None were successful, though they eventually did convince FOX to put the series on DVD.  Sales went through the roof.  Pre-sales topped the charts of even Amazon.com.  Two years later, Universal got into contact with Whedon about making a movie, and he chose to continue Firefly through a feature film.  On Spetember 30, 2005, Serenity premiered.  After an opening weekend of $10.1 million, the movie would eventually gross $38 million worldwide.  Sadly, this was just shy of its $39 million budget, and a sequel has yet to be announced.  DVD sales once again saved the day, but the damage was done.  On the screen, Firefly was dead.  It only lived on through novels, comic books, and an RPG.

While cancellation of cult shows is a common thing these days, the Browncoats made Firefly into more than another short-lived show.  The Browncoats have turned Firefly into a symbol for cults everywhere.  Sure, the Trekkies were what kept Star Trek alive until the movies, but the franchise was successfully revived, and remains the most popular cult to this day.  The Browncoats weren't so lucky.  They didn't become a symbol for people who fought the network and won, they became the people who fought the network and lost.  Many have noted that their plight is similar to that of Captain Malcolm Reynolds: they fought their hardest, and lost.  But they still try to keep the dream alive in what little way they can.  Firefly is a symbol of sadness, but also one of hope.  Because even now, nearly ten years after the show's death, the fanbase remains strong

So what are Browncoats?  Well, if it isn't obvious by this point, yes, I am one, so a lot of bias is going into this.  However, that doesn't mean I can't recognize the negative aspects of the fanbase.  So what do I think?  I think the Browncoats are a little bit obsessed, but I do think most of them have a good head on their shoulders.  Ultimately they're just people who are passionate about a show that was killed before it even had a chance, and, like Trekkies, Jedi, Bronies, and all other cult followings, are going to do whatever they can to keep it around.  If it weren't for them, the family that developed during the making of the show wouldn't have had a chance to get back together.  If it weren't for them, the show would indeed, be dead.  And let's not forget, the general public has often done the same thing as the Browncoats.  Why does I Love Lucy continue to air, decades after it ended?  Why does Doctor Who still persist, even after its cancellation in 1989?  Because the people who loved it refused to let it truly die.  The Browncoats are doing the same thing.  The Browncoats still love the show, and still watch it, and still spread it to people.  And in that way, the show remains alive.  The fans have done what the cast and crew couldn't, and the networks wouldn't: they've kept the light of Firefly aglow.