6 Times Fans Got Put In Charge
It's rare that obsessive fans have any influence on the objects of their worship, beyond the occasional restraining order from studio security. But other times, superfans somehow turn their passion into actual gigs. While Hell would freeze over before William Shatner would so much as let a Trekkie fetch him an iced latte, let us tell you about how ...
A Riverdale Producer Was Almost Sued For His Gay Archie Parody
Riverdale is a big hit teen drama. This hot and heavy take on Archie Comics finds Arch and the gang solving murders, battling gangs, and having all the sex we pretty much always assumed was happening off-panel anyway.
Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa began his career writing plays, which are like Netflix but with real people and the audience has to wear pants. One of his early works happened to be Archie's Weird Fantasy, in which the iconic redhead comes out of the closet and pals around with famed 1920s murderers Leopold and Loeb.
The day before the "loving pastiche" was set to open, Aguirre-Sacasa heard from Archie Comics. While you might expect they heard about this revisionist take and immediately put him to work on more revisionist Archie stories, the letter was in fact a cease-and-desist. It turns out the company thought that a gay Archie would "dilute and tarnish his image." The play's producers were forced to change the characters' names, and the title was changed to Weird Comic Book Fantasy.
Years later, Aguirre-Sacasa would be vindicated. After penning the zombie comic series Afterlife With Archie, he was made chief creative officer of Archie Comics, which paved the way for Riverdale, which paved the way for you to be more invested in Ethel and Moose than your own friends and family.
Star Wars Fans Offered To Build Droids For The Force Awakens, And Got The Gig
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been criticized for cramming in too much fanservice, and behind the scenes, they even hired fans to provide a service. Instead of turning to beady-eyed desert scavengers hocking stolen merchandise, the production procured droids from a couple of guys who loved Star Wars. You'd think Lucasfilm would have R2-D2s lying around their offices like paperclips, but even the iconic robot was rebuilt for Episode VII (and thanks to that notorious glory hog BB-8, he spent most of the movie powered down in a filthy corner).
This task fell to British Star Wars nerds Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, members of the "R2 Builders Club," which is exactly what it sounds like. When the pair met Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy at a German Star Wars convention, they jokingly suggested: "if you need droids for Episode VII ..." Either out of love for the fanbase or sheer laziness, a few weeks later, Lucasfilm hired them. Towersey and Steeples were tasked with creating a bunch of "accurate astromech droids," and built a new R2-D2 from scratch using fiberglass and aluminum. And despite J.J. Abrams' penchant for old-school techniques, they refrained from shoving a little person into a death trap of a costume.
A Guy Who Draws Creepy Realistic Pokemon Art Was Hired For Detective Pikachu
Who is the world's greatest detective? Batman? That guy from CSI with the magically musical sunglasses? Well, what about Detective Pikachu? Yup, some Hollywood exec thought that tossing a deerstalker cap on the cutest Pokemon and sticking him in a neo-noir would make a shit-ton of money ... and they were right.
But Detective Pikachu isn't the first disturbingly realistic incarnation of Pokemon characters. For six years, fan artist RJ Palmer has been creating amazingly detailed reimaginings of made-up animals used to sell video games, clothing, toys, and small pieces of cardboard to children.
Amazingly, Palmer's fan art got him a job working on Detective Pikachu. It turns out the film's production designer found his work on Google, presumably after searching the phrase "Is there someone else who can do my job for me?" Who knows, maybe Hollywood will start turning to fan artists more in the future. Perhaps the author of that anti-abortion Zootopia comic will one day be brought into the Disney fold.
Instead Of Suing Them, Sega Recruited Fans To Reboot Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic The Hedgehog is Sega's blue amphetamine-riddled answer to Mario. And there are a whole bunch of Sonic hacks out there. One fan, in an act of deep betrayal, even made Sonic ride Mario's dino buddy Yoshi. And while Nintendo has a history of threatening to sue people for modding their games, Sega showed that they were the cool eccentric uncle of the video game world by giving these hardworking modders jobs.
Sonic fan Christian Whitehead created a new port of Sonic CD for the iPod Touch, and was eventually hired to bring other Sonic games to mobile. Perhaps most amazingly, Whitehead and other modders, such as Simon Thomley, were eventually put to work revitalizing the entire Sonic brand. The gang of fans created Sonic Mania, an old-school platformer for the new generation of consoles.
Sonic Mania became the "highest-rated new Sonic title in 15 years," and was way less existentially terrifying than that comic wherein Sonic inadvertently deleted his children from existence.
Doctor Who Keeps Hiring Random Dudes From The Internet
An icon for scarf-clad nerds all over the world, Doctor Who will probably live on forever (though to be fair, any show working under the premise that the lead character can randomly transform into a new actor is probably going to have some longevity). Random people who hang out on the internet are a key demographic for the venerable franchise, and the show also keeps hiring them. One fan, Billy Hanshaw, made a new opening for the show as a visual effects demo, seeing the TARDIS hurling through a clockwork spacetime continuum.
Hanshaw put the video up on YouTube, and it was eventually seen by Doctor Who producer Steven Moffat. Not only did he like the idea, he liked the whole damn thing. So for the premiere episode featuring the new incarnation of the Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, the show just used Hanshaw's opening from YouTube, though thankfully with no watermark.
This isn't the only time the show has hired a fan. Part of Doctor Who's special effects team, John Smith, landed the job after making Wholock -- which sounds like a thing to keep the Grinch from stealing all your shit, but was a fanfiction crossover between Doctor Who and Sherlock. Though since this was an elaborately produced video and not a DeviantArt doodle, at no point did Holmes and the Doctor start making out.
Marvel Took A Random Fan Letter And Turned It Into Venom
You probably know Venom as one of Spider-Man's greatest adversaries, or as the star of that movie about Tom Hardy getting possessed by an evil Instagram filter. It all began in the 1980s, when Marvel (a meager comic publisher, not the cinematic behemoth it is today) had a contest for "aspiring writers and artists." And fan Randy Schueller suggested that Spider-Man should get a new costume -- namely a black one, so that he could "blend in with the shadows."
Schueller's idea didn't, however, involve any alien symbiotes, but instead had the Fantastic Four and Tony Stark going full Project Runway and designing Peter Parker a new outfit. Marvel was so taken with the black suit idea that they bought it for a cool, uh, $220. They also gave Schueller first stab at writing the script, but after two drafts, his ideas were rejected. A year later, Marvel's Secret Wars was released, and unbeknownst to Schueller, the kernel of his idea made it onto the page. Spider-Man had gone full Johnny Cash.
According to Schueller, he was both "thrilled and saddened" to see his idea realized without his help. Then, when the suit became Venom, he was "disturbed." Though he's probably now more disturbed that his $200 idea paved the way for an almost-billion-dollar movie.
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