It’s the start of the year, political chaos and the plague notwithstanding, there’s still a whole year of fandom shenanigans ahead of us. I decided to predict some fandom 2021 trends this year, dividing them into the categories of Sure Things, Hopeful Contenders, and Long Shots. Of course, some of my predictions might not come true. Fandom is rife with unexpected twists and turns, as is the media they love and love-to-hate. However, it’s worth a try, at the very least, to foresee some of the media which might light the Internet on fire this year.
The Book of Boba Fett
I know I’m not the only one excited for this show — there’s already fanart and fanfiction plenty for Boba/Fennec, a truly inspired team-up that can only lead to greatness. Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) finally gets his due, and Fennec Shand joins a host of Ming-Na Wen’s badass characters. This is, of course, going to be at the very end of the year, but it’s probably the surest thing we’ve got for fandom 2021 joy. Thanks to its connection to The Mandalorian, this series will probably not fall into the pitfalls of the end of the Skywalker Saga, and hey, maybe Din (Pedro Pascal) will appear as a Sad Dad. We’ll see.
Yes, most of the Internet has a love/hate relationship with Scarlett Johansson. She’s stuck her foot in her mouth for most of the past decade, but fandom also still mourned with Natasha Romanov was killed off in Avengers: Endgame. My guess for Black Widow is that it’ll be better than WW84 when it comes to critical enjoyment and that it’ll spark a whole new ship–Natasha/Yelena (Florence Pugh). Yeah, they claim she’s a “sister” figure, but when has that ever stopped the shipping community?
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
As soon as the Venom trailer for the first trailer premiered, fandom was enamored with Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Eddie Brock — and weirdly, shipped the heck out of Eddie and Venom. I saw it with my own eyes, okay? It’s a bizarre but fascinating ship, kind of like staring at a car crash. I have no doubt that once Venom reemerges, people will be right back at it (if they ever stopped, to begin with).
The Suicide Squad
I’m mostly basing this off the popularity of James Gunn’s other misfit squad, the Guardians of the Galaxy. I think, if it’s any good, this new take on the Suicide Squad, led by Margot Robbie, will be huge. Her take on Harley Quinn has already captured the imaginations of many fans — you can’t swing a dead cat (proverbially) without finding a Harley Quinn gifset these days. Will it be more enjoyable than Birds of Prey? I think not, but it’ll still be a wild ride. And fandom likes those wild rides.
This series, after The Book of Boba Fett, is the thing I’m most sure about. Tom Hiddleston’s return to his take on the trickster Loki is going to just light up fandom, because he’ll be at his Loki-est. Loki was the hottest character in the MCU fandom for so long, it only makes sense that Loki will just reignite that particular segment of the population. Long Live the Trickster King.
Yes, Disney live-action films get a bad rap from diehards, but one of the Internet’s favorite ladies, Emma Stone, is playing the tyrannical puppy-scalping Cruella de Vil. She could be what Anne Hathaway’s The Witches character was probably supposed to be — without the ableism and anti-Semitism. Whether or not this Cruella will break away from Glenn Close’s Cruella is a good question, but this character is always campy, like the best Disney villainesses. Hopefully, this remake captures that particular brand of magic.
Am I mainly hoping The Eternals is good because filmmaker Chloé Zhao is a rising star? …maybe. But I’m also hoping that Marvel’s riskiest gamble yet pays off because it’s one of their more interesting concepts. With queer characters, multiple characters of color, and even disabled heroes, this film better capture the hearts and minds of Tumblr, or I’m shutting it down. Well, I would if I had the power to do that.
This is already going to be a critical hit (more than likely), but whether it captures fandom’s imagination is another question. I’m hoping some truly wild fanworks come out of this show — it’s already a wild concept, so it deserves equally kooky fanart and fanfiction. I’ve always felt, too, that Wanda Maximoff is one of the MCU’s most under-appreciated characters, and I really hope this show changes that. Come through, Fandom 2021!
Okay, so an Apple TV+ show based on the books by Isaac Asimov might seem like a long shot for a truly active fandom. But then you remember that Jared Harris and Lee Pace are both starring in the show, and you realize…well, this has potential. Pace, of course, has massive followings from both the cult classic Pushing Daisies and from his turn as Thranduil in The Hobbit films. Harris has both The Terror and Chernobyl on his resume, as well as a whole section of Tumblr seemingly dedicated to his rakish good looks and charming personality. All that to say — Foundation breaking out is possible. It’s certainly a hope of mine.
Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings Show
I’m truly curious to see if this show actually gets released in 2021, but that’s the date Amazon is giving right now, so I guess we’ll have to trust them. If it’s any good, I’m guessing this show will generate quite the fandom — maybe not to the heights of the original movies, but those were the only films of their quality and type around at the time. People are jaded from shows like Game of Thrones, which delivered up until the ending and even then, I would argue, delivered only about half the time. Whether this translates to a lighter fandom for The Lord of the Rings series is anyone’s guess. Fandom 2021 could latch onto it — or they could toss it away.
This may surprise you, but I just…could not give a crap about NBC’s long-departed Hannibal. It was an overly gorey, if done somewhat tastefully, over-designed overwrought mess. Also, just a lot of men angsting about being men. I never saw the homoeroticism between Will and Hannibal, and also, why did anyone want that? However, Hannibal does have a powerful fandom. Whenever Clarice, a sequel series focusing entirely on Clarice Starling, is brought up, the main point of contention is that this isn’t a Hannibal reboot, despite the fact that those shows exist on two different platforms entirely. Clarice is a CBS joint, and Hannibal can’t actually appear in it. I have my theories as to how they’re going to get around that, but that’s another column. I hope Clarice thrives if only because it’s a female-led series in a realm that is mostly male-dominated. But I’m not holding out hope.
Y: The Last Man
Okay, if this actually comes out, I think this show will actually be quite popular. It’s got a killer concept, especially these days, and fun characters if they get them right. With shows like Locke & Key prospering on Netflix, hopefully, this show further encourages the proliferation of graphic novel adaptations not based on superheroes. Again, if it actually comes out.
I desperately want this show to be the Next Hot Thing among those who love horror. In fact, if Hannibal fans are so desperate for a similar vibe-like show, I would strongly recommend Evil. It’s the perfect mix of genuine horror and camp to really triumph. It’s on CBS, which I know makes it sound like an old person show, but it’s really not. It’s as edgy as network TV gets, and I just hope everyone recognizes that going into its second season. Horror deserves a resurgence on TV; starting with this show would be perfect. Fandom 2021, are you listening?
For All Mankind
I happen to know I’m not the only one who watched this underrated gem in its first season. Its second season is only a month or so away, and I really hope people start appreciating this alt-history take on the space race. Produced by Ronald D. Moore, it has very few of the drawbacks of Outlander and Battlestar Galactica, and many of their positive traits. The characters are interesting, and the concept is a good look at a space program constantly in distress, so it’s not too far off from reality. Because it’s on Apple TV+, I’m guessing few will latch on, even with solid word of mouth, but I can hope for this one, at least.
And finally…our last long shot: Pedro Pascal gets nominated for a goddamn Emmy
Yeah, this isn’t happening. But Pedro Pascal’s performance in the final episode of The Mandalorian season two should be nominated for all the awards he’s nominated for and then some. It’s a heartbreaking performance, and really his whole performance is great — it’s a lot of work to portray such character and emotion mostly with a bucket on your head. And once he takes the helmet off…oof. Nominate him, dammit, or I’ll be as sad as Din is when he says goodbye to his baby boy. Fandom 2021 will be sad too.