Canon Watchdog

Being an obsessive nerd of the highest order, I am often bothered by things in my media that normal people (I call them “normies”) don’t care about. Most normies can overlook a trifling plot hole or a minor contradictory sequence of events as long as they serve the overall structure of the story. Indeed, I can as well, providing I’m not looking too closely. It’s on revisitings and second watchings that the little things leap off the page or the screen and begin to gnaw at me.

For my own comfort and sanity, and so that hopeless geeks everywhere can sleep more soundly, I propose a solution.

Big-budget Hollywood movies are almost always planned in trilogies now. Considering the many millions of dollars spent on hiring big name actors and special effects, I suggest they take a portion of their budget and hire a professional Canon Watchdog. The CW’s job is to frequently and repeatedly watch previous movies in a series and identify potential “weak canon areas” in the newly-written sequel’s screenplay. In particularly long series a work may even need multiple CW’s, perhaps one assigned to each previous work, to squash the little inconsistancies that only bug .2% of the population.

Just having re-watched the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, here are a few things a good CW might have caught:

  1. There’s no logical explanation for why Captains Barbossa and Jack Sparrow should both be Pirate Lords, considering one was the other’s first mate.
  2. Considering how important the nine pieces-‘o-eight were, Barbossa was pretty careless with the two in his control, having left one dangling in the hair of his marooned captain and another in the eye socket of a bumbling underling.
  3. The Pirate Code is treated both as an unbreakable system of law and a subject of whimsy, sometimes both in the same scene.
  4. If Davy Jones’s inability to come ashore can be worked around with something as simple as a washtub full of seawater, why must Will be separated from Elizabeth for ten years after he assumes the role? Actually, why couldn’t Elizabeth not have simply joined Will’s crew?
  5. Jack’s magic compass, which always points to the thing one’s heart desires most, should not have been rendered inoperable by its owner being unclear about what his heart desired most. Every time the compass is shown to be “malfunctioning” in this way it is alternating between two clearly-defined points. Follow the one that is pointing out to see and ignore the one pointing back towards land. If one of the objects of your desire happens to be on your ship, as when Elizabeth is with Jack aboard the Black Pearl, simply orienting oneself so that Object of Desire #1 is between the compass and Object of Desire #2 would provide a clear, static heading.
  6. In fact, that exact situation occurs on the island where the Dead Man’s Chest is buried, indicating that the writers were clever enough to concoct that solution but simply chose to ignore it for the first half of the movie!
  7. Throughout the second movie Tia Dalma is presented as simply a weird voodoo lady, rather than the immortal shackled sea goddess she actually is. Nobody knows her true identity except Barbossa, who she brought back from the dead herself… until partway through the third movie, that is, where pretty much everyone seems to know her identity, even though Barbossa hadn’t appeared to tell anyone.

It wouldn’t be the CW’s job to dwell on amazing coincidences or implausible fight senes that clearly fall under the jurisdiction of Rule of Cool, but to eliminate new plot points that condradict previously established ones. Surely the undying admiration and respect of the most hardcore of your fanbase is worth the risk of your screenplay being leaked to the unwashed masses?

Yeah, okay, maybe not.

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