The Retcon vs Purist argument


From the very beginning of storytelling there have been retcons.  Someone always wants to tell the story with a different set of circumstances.  Some times the retellings are good and help build onto the existing story and characters.  Other times the retelling destroys everything that made the original story popular in the first place.
These retellings have only recently been given a name.  Retcon is the term used when someone takes an existing story or character and changes some part.  Some times the reason for doing this is an attempt to modernize the story/character.  Other times it is just a “what if?” type thing.


On the other hand you have purists.  This group believes the story/character should remain true to the original source material no matter what.  Any deviation from the source material is seen as a bad thing.

Battle lines

These two camps of thought rarely agree on a retcon.  If you don’t believe me just visit any online forum about a movie or comic book that has retconned something.  There is more venom and name calling in those forums than at my last Thanksgiving dinner.
There are points to be made for both sides.  I myself used to be firmly in the purists camp.  I used to hate when even the smallest detail in a comic book movie deviated from the source material.  I took it as a personal attack when movies would make changes to my favorite characters.
Fast forward to now.  I have come to realize comic books are a living history where only the general outlines are written in stone.  Everything else is fluid and changes with the times.  Comic books have to appeal to readers EVERY month (sometimes twice a month).  To keep their titles profitable they have to constantly attract new readers to replace those who have fallen by the wayside.  This must be done while retaining their loyal readers at the same time.  Publishers are always walking that tightrope.  Sometimes they are successful, sometimes they fail miserably.


Retconners and purists both really love the source material for comic books.  The purists like things just as they are and don’t think any changes are needed EVER.  The retconners take the source material and ask “what if?”.  The common bond is the affection for the original work.  If you love the original stuff… you will always have that.  No one can take that away from you.  If you’re a retconner you should realize the further you stray from the source the more audience you will likely lose.
It’s a good time to be a nerd.  Let’s not fight amongst ourselves.

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