Different Medium, Different Storylines / by Erin Wade

So I was getting my locks shorn yesterday, and Paula, my hairdresser, asks if I've seen Avengers: Age of Ultron yet.

Now, first, let me just say how irretrievably cool it is to have a hairdresser who is interested in stuff like The Avengers. It's a good time to be a geek.

As she snipped and we talked, the conversation got off on how the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies vary from the original comics on which they are based. The storylines are similar, of course, but there are key differences between both the characters and the events that occur.

This isn't true just of the MCU, though. Fans of The Walking Dead who watch both the TV Show and read the comic series know that the show has strayed significantly from the books. Game of Thrones on HBO has not only varied the storyline, but they are rapidly moving into a position in the story that is past the end of the last completed book in the series. Often these changes are for reasons of economy of storytelling - the GOT books have a staggering array of characters to keep track of, for example, and the TV series is arguably better (and certainly easier to track) for the decisions made in condensing some characters together.

The comics and fantasy fan-world being what it is, I'm quite sure there are those out there who find the variations from the "original" source material well nigh offensive. There was probably a time in my life when I would have been among them.

I feel very differently about it now. In general, I find that I appreciate and prefer it when the new version varies from the old. This introduces, into what is otherwise familiar material, an important factor: surprise.

I love that I don't know, despite my reading and re-reading The Walking Dead comics series, what is going to happen to Rick and the rest of the crew over the next season, or even the next episode. What's more, I find that I enjoy thinking about the decisions the TV writers have made - parsing through why this character lived longer, that one died sooner, and the other wasn't ever introduced. In many ways it's like the television version is the story as it occurs in an alternate universe.

These variations also mean that, in these cases where I've really enjoyed the original story, really gotten into the lives and the world that was created, I now get more of that without simply having to tread over the exact same material. It's a real bonus - watching the show or movie isn't simply an exercise in finding fault with how the new version screwed up.

I'm sure there are still true-believers out there who will disagree with me, and that's fine. They can stick to their sacred texts. I'm going to enjoy my new editions.

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