Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Navigate Left
  • Tulane announced its new chief of police on Friday as Frank Young Jr..

    News

    Tulane announces new chief of police

  • Letter to the Editor | Support Tulane Workers United, help your professors

    Letter to the Editor

    Letter to the Editor | Support Tulane Workers United, help your professors

  • Head coach Lisa Stockton led the Tulane womens basketball program for 30 years.

    Basketball

    Tulane women’s basketball ushers in new era with coach Langford

  • The UConn Huskies win the 2024 National Championship after a dominant tournament run

    Basketball

    Uconn dominates NCAA tournament, earns “blue blood” status

  • Green Wave baseball looks to climb up the standings in the American Conference

    Baseball

    Green Wave baseball hopes to build off recent victory for conference improvement

  • Analyzing satire: Why Helldivers 2 succeeds where Warhammer 40k faltered

    Arcade

    Analyzing satire: Why Helldivers 2 succeeds where Warhammer 40k faltered

  • Tulanes Middle East and North African Studies introduces students to the rich history, layered politics, diverse cultures, linguistic, and religious traditions of the Middle East and North Africa, according to the Tulane website.

    News

    Open letter from staff accuses Tulane of anti-Palestinian bias

  • Cowboy Carter explores past music tradition while creating its own

    Arcade

    Cowboy Carter explores past music tradition while creating its own

  • Tulanes Green Wave Films assists with HBOs ‘The Welcome Table’

    Arcade

    Tulane’s Green Wave Films assists with HBO’s ‘The Welcome Table’

  • spring semester

    News

    Alumni, authors on COVID-19 failures and future pandemics

  • Ian Faul is the incoming editor-in-chief of the Tulane Hullabaloo.

    News

    Ian Faul elected next Hullabaloo Editor-in-Chief

  • Crawfest 2024 prevails in face of crawfish shortage

    Arcade

    Crawfest 2024 prevails in face of crawfish shortage

  • ‘Deeper Well’: Kacey Musgraves explores self-fulfillment, musical evolution

    Arcade

    ‘Deeper Well’: Kacey Musgraves explores self-fulfillment, musical evolution

  • Tulane’s URBANBuild students build ‘Tiny Homes,’ combatting homelessness

    News

    Tulane’s URBANBuild students build ‘Tiny Homes,’ combatting homelessness

  • Heavy precipitation caused floods across New Orleans Wednesday morning | Courtesy of New Orleans Police Department

    City

    Severe weather causes Uptown floods, statewide power outages

Navigate Right
Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

flytedesk: Box (In-Story)
flytedesk (In-Story | Box)
flytedesk (Sidebar | Half Page)

Rethinking sequel bait: Movies should be more than advertisements

Graphic by Shivani Bondada

In the age of modern moviemaking, unresolved plot points are as ubiquitous as the film series they lay the groundwork for. Since 2010, over 40% of wide releases each year have been part of one franchise or another, often released with the intent to establish or add to a cinematic universe. Each of these films functions as a sequel, prequel or spinoff, existing as part of a story told over the course of several movies.

For years, the emergence and maintenance of new franchises has been heavily critiqued, and audiences have grown disenchanted with the industry standard of cinematic universes. While there are many reasons for this loss in interest, I believe one of the most prominent contributors is that of so-called “sequel bait”: the tendency of modern films to introduce unresolved plot elements with the express purpose of foreshadowing or otherwise hinting at a future project.

As a fan of expansive worldbuilding projects, I take a lot of interest in cinematic universes and the process of gradually assembling them. But I think that sequel bait is relied upon too heavily, often overshadowing the actual narrative of the movie within which it is placed.

When a story becomes part of a larger project, it joins a network of interconnected plots that each present a different section of an overarching plotline. As such, each component is dependent on others to function as a complete narrative, and no one piece has full closure — otherwise, there would be little reason to add onto a story with full resolution.

This isn’t always true, of course, and movies like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” show that it is possible for films to work both as standalone stories and as part of a series. With that in mind, a major reason for the success of the Spider-Verse comes from how its narrative and setting are structured.

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” presents a quintessential monomyth, using the nature of its premise to grant ample resolution and closure to its characters and their complementary journeys. The film strikes a balance between its immense scale and down-to-earth storytelling and harnesses the potential of its premise while recognizing the need to keep its story finite.

At the same time, however, the multiversal premise of the Spider-Verse permits limitless possibilities in sequels. While “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” is satisfying as a complete story, it leaves its ending just open-ended enough for sequels like “Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse” to feel like a natural progression into broader narrative territory.

Even with the immense cliffhangers at the end of “Across the Spider-Verse,” its pre-existing format as a two-part story. The way in which it leaves its story structure to be continued is extremely satisfying, leaving viewers like myself excited to see where the Spider-Verse goes next.

There is a great deal of money to be made in establishing a film series. One need look no further than Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to see that there is a major financial incentive behind keeping them alive. Just as some cinematic universes derive some of their marketability from the success of earlier films, sequels also are advertised through the premise and potential success of the movie they are meant to follow.

Films such as “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” are archetypal examples of sequel bait. While the movie itself was poorly received for its writing, dialogue and directing, I believe that a much larger problem exists within.

The actual story of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is interwoven with a series of unceremonious advertisements for future projects, from setting up future villains to leaving major story elements unresolved, including the origin of major plot devices and their true significance to the movie itself.

As a box-office flop, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” would never become the catalyst it was meant to be for a prospective cinematic universe — and its rampant sequel bait came to nought. While the movie itself received disdain from critics and audiences alike, I believe a deeper issue is responsible for its failure.

As a movie riddled with sequel bait, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” often forgets its nature as a movie and becomes something of a billboard for the new installments it was supposed to be the foundation for. Its narrative is littered with frayed ends which further highlight that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is less a story and more so a feature-length teaser trailer.

Standalone media can indeed become the vantage point for a series of new projects, but the Spider-Verse prevailed because it tells a story first and foremost. Its creators were concerned primarily with the narrative they wanted to assemble, rather than the marketability of a sequel to their work.

When movies give priority to sequel bait, they neglect the very thing that would justify those sequels in the first place: a worthwhile story. Without a satisfying narrative, there is no reason for audiences to care about sequels. Rather than focusing on raking in profits from franchises that don’t exist yet, studios should focus more on the storytelling that forms the basis of filmmaking as a whole, lest they sink further into their habits of cinematic commodification.

Leave a Comment

Donate to The Tulane Hullabaloo
$300
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tulane University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Donate to The Tulane Hullabaloo
$300
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal