So, I promised myself I wasn’t going to write another Avengers-related post (I watched Captain America yesterday, so I am almost caught up with everything now), but pondering how all the movies fit together, and how they leave little hints in each one that relate to all the others, and knowing that there’s tons of additional superheroes and villains that fit into the same universe made me think about the good, and the bad, things about over-arcing universes.
An over-arcing universe is a large universe in which there are many stories. These can be, like the Marvel Universe, several originally independent stories that have been twisted into a single universe. They can be single author works, where said author has explored the history of a world across generations. They can be single television shows with decades of history.
The defining point is that there are a lot of stories, and there are hints of the other stories in each story, whether it’s a name drop of a character or the reminder of a plot point. Sometimes a character that was the main character in a different story is a side character in a new story, and sometimes you have true crossovers, where characters that don’t normally interact must work together.
Sometimes they’re organic, where things just get added into the mix over time, and sometimes they’re more planned, like the Star Wars extended universe.
The nice thing about these large universes is that they can be very complex and, for people who are familiar with them, the hints and mentions can be a nice treat.
The bad things about these large universes is that they can be contradictory when different stories are forced to work together, and they can become so large that it’s impossible to keep track of everything.
I’m sure you can think of tons of examples, in role-playing games, books, movies, comics, television shows…but which are your favorite, Squiders?