Look, I wasn’t a big fan of Ghostbusters 2 mainly because it ignored The Real Ghostbusters. Instead of continuing their adventures we got the reunion movie trope and I just wasn’t into it. There’s a lot wrong with that movie and even today despite all they get right in the end I can’t really watch it like I do the original movie. If it wasn’t for the cartoon there might not even BE a second film, much less the video game serving as a third, or the reboot, or the return to the continuity with Ghostbusters Afterlife on its way to theaters. I’m not even sure I’m that interested in Afterlife at this point because I was more into the cartoon than the previous sequel, though the video game does look interesting. Note also that Extreme Ghostbusters, good as it was, is still a bit too dark for my tastes, a bit more towards the horror side, just with a bunch of college kids and 90s tropes.
That’s what Ghostbusters was, not a comedy but a lighter toned horror movie. It can be confusing given how many members of the cast have been known for comedy before and since the film, and that’s not the first time that happened. The Meteor Man didn’t exactly jibe with Robert Townsend’s previous works and thus wasn’t given a chance as a family superhero movie for urban youth, especially black kids. (It was a superhero movie with an all-black cast long before Black Panther finally had a live-action appearance.) Fans wanted a new Ghostbusters movie for years, with the video game being the closest they could get after the passing of Harold Ramis. Losing Egon loses part of the magic, but Bill Murray not wanting to return (losing any of the four is a bad thing no matter how little Ernie Hudson got to do compared to Arsenio Hall on the show–and yes, I know Hudson was stupidly looked over voicing Winston on the cartoon) held things up.
Instead we got the comedy known either as Ghostbusters 2016 or alternately Ghostbusters: Answer The Call thanks to the tagline in the trailer. The movie did poorly with fans and with the general public. Hollywood being Hollywood they can’t accept that they didn’t make a good product (note that I still have yet to see it and it’s only morbid curiosity that has me interested in seeing it) and blamed toxic fans, sexists, and anyone else to avoid taking a look at the actual complaints. It’s not a comedy franchise, the story wasn’t very good, there were people making a case for reverse sexism for how the male secretary was treated versus Janine in the movies and pre-interference cartoons, and it wasn’t the original characters together again and continuing the storyline. When you take on a property you take on its fans and if you can’t please the old fans while finding new ones you will fail. And so it did.
Andre over at Midnight’s Edge has seen the movie, collected all the complaints and praises, and put together a video explaining why the movie failed, why a certain sect of critics are rushing to its defense, and why that same sect wants Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a movie that does try to play to the old fans, to fail even harder than the reboot. Then I have a few thoughts.
Catch more Midnight’s Edge on YouTube.
Like I said, I haven’t seen the 2016 movie, and would only do so on morbid curiosity, and that’s probably where I stand on Afterlife as well. I can’t speak to the quality of the end product, but I know what’s in the movie and what isn’t. Andre suggests that Paul Fiege just wanted to do an all-women parody, which is him saying that women couldn’t do the light-hearted horror of the original movies and shows correctly. Isn’t that an insult on its own? He may not be intended to say that, but a lot of problems right now come from not understanding what you’re coming across as versus what you’re intending. Ghostbusters is not a comedy and its fans didn’t want a comedy.
The fix is actually pretty easy. If the problem is that the 2016 movie is a reboot, maybe they shouldn’t have done that. With Ramis gone (he passed in 2014) what Fiege should have done is not make a parody reboot. It’s honestly that simple. Have the story about the four women setting up their own Ghostbusters franchise in a new city, let’s say Detroit. The surviving cast cameo and sort of pass the torch to the women who set this up. I think Leslie Jones’ character comes later, much like Winston, but she can still come in later. Have them over their heads because they’re starting out, but with a bit more advantage as the original New York team already got a lot of the processes started. The new Detroit team has less of a struggle but also has a struggle of their own, both with the current threat and trying to prove they’re worthy of being part of this legacy that should finally be accepted in this universe–one of my other problems with the second film. By the end they prove they’re just as good as any other Ghostbusters group out there, save Detroit from whatever the threat is, and get final approval from the original team that they are worthy to be on the team.
This could not only allow them to find an audience that might lead to sequels or their own animated series, but allow fans to come up with fanfics set in their own town, maybe acknowledge the various fan groups like Star Wars did with the 501st, groups who do conventions and other events while coming together around something they love. This would draw fans even closer to what would now be a shared universe, and one that might actually get it right outside of Marvel and Legendary’s kaiju. There could be more movies, games, comics, and shows featuring new teams in different areas, even internationally, and just build something incredible. They honestly could have had a decent sized franchise on their hands instead of one that pumps something out ever five years or so. Instead the movie tried to replace the originals, failed to replace the old audience with enough new ones, blamed social issues instead of trying to figure out what they did wrong, and that’s led to the current discussion on adaptation, race/gender swaps, and made the current sociopolitical discussions even worse than they were, or at least contributed to the overall problem of all those issues. All to hide the fact that they failed to make a good movie, and pretend they don’t want the all-girl cast blamed when fans are blaming the director and his writers.
Maybe someday I’ll see both of these movies, but frankly I’d rather just stick with the very first film and the first cartoon. That was all the Ghostbusters I ever needed…outside of a team-up with the Filmation Ghostbusters. My inner child still dreams……