Ranking my favorite sci-fi/fantasy franchises

This blog is mostly about Star Wars, but like most fans, there are many other franchises out there that I love. I thought I’d list them here and rank them, based on my level of obsession and commitment. I love them all to varying degrees, but here they are from least favorite to most:

Blade Runner. I’m not sure if this counts as a franchise, since there are only two movies, but I also thought I heard that there’s a series in the works. At any rate, Blade Runner came to my attention in the early 80’s when the first one came out (it was released in 1982) since Harrison Ford was in it. At 12 years old, I was deep into my Star Wars obsession, and had my first celebrity crush on Ford. But I was a bit disappointed in the trailer, since it looked nothing like Star Wars, and Harrison Ford didn’t look like Han Solo, lol. I didn’t actually watch the film until much later, in my twenties, and I absolutely loved it. It just looked cool, and was cerebral in a way Star Wars wasn’t, and realized this was science fiction while Star Wars was fantasy. When Blade Runner 2049 came out in 2017, I was excited about it. Some people either didn’t like it, didn’t understand it, or thought it was way too long and convoluted. I loved it, though. Ryan Gosling was incredible in the role of K/Joe, and it explored all the philosophical themes I loved in the original (what does it mean to be human? What is love? What is real? etc). And Ford was great.

Indiana Jones. Another Ford franchise I’ve loved since childhood. Raiders of the Lost Ark remains one of my favorite nostalgic films. The franchise is low down on my list because the films have been kind of hit or miss. Raiders–awesome. Temple of Doom–gruesome and silly. Last Crusade–awesome. Crystal Skull–disappointing. I’m hoping number five continues the pattern and is awesome, and a fitting farewell to the character.

Mad Max. I first saw Beyond Thunderdome when it came out in 1985. At the time, I thought it was pretty cool, although now I consider it the weakest out of the movies. I backtracked and saw the first two Mad Max films, and while the first one was decent, it was The Road Warrior that cemented my love for the franchise (and young Mel Gibson was extremely easy on the eyes, too). The Road Warrior was quite simply an action masterpiece on wheels, and I’m not someone who’s into action films, really. It has to be action blended with something else, like an existential dystopian journey. When it was announced that there would be a reboot with Tom Hardy as Max, I had my doubts. No one but Mel could play Max. But I was wrong. Tom did a great job, but I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t really Max that did it for me this time; it was Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. I absolutely love her, and the film has the same high-octane car chases as the originals. I think there’s a Furiosa sequel on the way, and I’m on board.

The Terminator. I missed this one when it first came out in 1984 because I was too young to go see it in the theater. I caught up with it later, and instantly loved it. The idea of it just blew my young mind–a robot coming back through time to kill a woman so she wouldn’t bear a son who would inspire a human rebellion against the machines?? What?? That’s so cool!!!–and Arnold Schwarzenegger was awesome as the Terminator. I also related to Sarah Connor, because she was just some normal waitress who happened to be the mother of John Connor. And oh, the father was the guy who came back in time to protect her from the killer machine. OMG, What???? The son sent his own father back in time so he could be conceived??? It was all so mind-bending to me, lol. And of course, the sequel was fantastic, and Sarah Connor had grown into this badass fighter who would do anything to protect her son. She was one of the first badass women action characters (next to Ellen Ripley, see below) who was inspiring to me at the time. The subsequent sequels were fine, but couldn’t quite recapture the magic, and I think I even skipped the last one or two, I don’t know. But the first two will always be rather high on my list of faves.

Alien(s). This was another instance where I saw the second movie before the first one, and then backtracked. The second Alien movie, simply called Aliens, is by far the best of the bunch. I saw it in the theater and just sat on the edge of my seat teeming with adrenaline the whole time, lol. The aliens are terrifying and gross and Ellen Ripley is one of my female heroes, next to Sarah Connor, naturally. Just a normal woman who got caught up in something that required her to do insanely brave things, not only to survive, but to help those she cared about to survive, too. When I backtracked and saw the first Alien movie, I was surprised at how different it was; it was more of a slow burn that eventually boiled into terror. The subsequent movies weren’t that great, to be honest. The third one was just grim and depressing, and the fourth was kind of weird and unsettling. I like to just pretend the third and fourth never happened, and Ripley and Newt lived happily ever after with Hicks.

Marvel. Marvel is a relatively recent obsession, starting just last summer with the Loki series. I loved it so much, and worked through all the films for several months to catch up. Where had I been all these years? Lol. I will confess, I thought the “comic book movies” silly and for the nerd boys (nevermind that I was, and had been for years, a nerd girl). But Loki opened the door for me, and I’m so glad he did. It was so fun discovering all these movies, and some I absolutely loved, and others, meh, not so much (here’s my ranking of the films). And the D+ shows have been mostly great; I especially loved, besides Loki, Wandavision and Moon Knight. I haven’t been keeping up with the shows–I haven’t watched Ms. Marvel or She-Hulk, which is surprising for me, since they’re female-centric, but I think I just got a case of Marvel fatigue, lol. They’ll always be there and I’ll catch up some day.

Star Trek. Ah, Star Trek. For me, it all started with The Next Generation in the late 80’s. I think I’d seen a few shows of the original series before that, but it didn’t capture my attention like Next Gen. It was silly at times (especially looking back, lol), but it found its rhythm in later seasons and put out excellent episodes. I think it’s the only series of which I’ve seen every single episode (besides Enterprise). I loved Deep Space Nine and Voyager, but didn’t watch all the episodes for one reason or another. Enterprise is another favorite; I have a soft spot for Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap, and just found the show fun and entertaining. The newer shows, like Discovery and Strange New Worlds, I haven’t seen at all, and I’ve only seen the first season of Picard. I hope to remedy that some day. And the films are a whole other thing. I enjoyed some of the films with the original crew (2,4, and 6 specifically), and the Next Gen films were mostly good, particularly First Contact. And the new JJ. Abrams Trek films about the original crew with new actors are quite good, too. I’ll always love Trek and what it represents–mostly, faith in humanity and an examination of science and ethics–and Jean Luc will always be my favorite captain.

Lord of the Rings. This is another relatively new obsession, although this one started over twenty years ago (!) with the release of Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring in 2001. I had never read the books before this (but have since read them twice through) nor did I ever feel the need to. But damn, when that first trailer came out, I was gobsmacked! I had to see this movie. And when I did, I just stared up at the screen in awe. This was just something I had never experienced before, besides what I felt with Star Wars. It was gorgeous, stunning, epic, and so full of heart I could barely breathe. It was quite simply one of the best movies I had ever seen, period; at least until The Return of the King came out. That was an experience I’ll never forget. It deserved its gazillion Oscars (okay, eleven, but it really swept that year, and it’s a fantasy film, which had never happened before). I immediately read the books as soon as Fellowship came out, and I enjoyed those. Then I tried The Silmarillion. I knew immediately I wasn’t going to be a LOTR expert or any such thing. There’s just too much. I didn’t get too far before I set it down, defeated. But that’s okay. It’s actually a good reference book as I watch the new Rings of Power show, which has been quite good, though probably doesn’t follow it to the letter. I’ve also been re-watching The Hobbit trilogy, and while it doesn’t reach the heights of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s great fun and has some lore in there, too.

Star Wars. As you might have guessed, this franchise takes the top spot in my heart. I made a blog about it, after all. There’s just something so special about this galaxy far, far away. Maybe because it’s about hope amid relentless tyranny. Maybe it’s the characters and their journeys. Maybe it’s the futuristic space setting, but as the song says, it’s not the future. It’s a fairy tale, a once upon a time in space. Maybe it’s the nostalgia: I fell in love with it when I was ten years old, over forty years ago, and it’s been with me ever since. Whatever the reason, Star Wars will always be a part of me, a meaningful part of me, as weird as that sounds. I mean, I even got a Jedi Order tattoo on my arm last year, to solidify my commitment, lol. And it’s not static; it’s alive and well after all these decades, evolving and adapting and always recreating itself, while still remaining the same at its core: the story of good versus evil, of darkness ever rising, and the light always to meet it.

What are your favorite franchises? Sci-fi/fantasy or not, let me know in the comments and we’ll talk about it!

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