suburbanstorm asked: Hi Matt, recenly I've been asking various writers (oh, thank you tumblr) one particular question - the opinion on retcons. I really wanna know what's your opinion on this, about making smaller or bigger changes in the history of estabilished characters? And how you explain the need for such changes for the sake of current stories?
Well, here’s my thing: i think continuity is the devil. i think it’s constricting and restrictive, i think it’s alienating and off-putting, and it inflicts an artifact of linear time as we experience it on something that exists outside of linear time as well as keeps new readership away by keeping comics a matter of trivia and history rather than actual stories.
I believe in consistency, or at least consistency as I see it and understand it, above the rigid strictures of continuity. Otherwise the entire exercise starts to fall apart as the logic of linear time spreads. What war did Frank Castle fight in? If you still think Vietnam, then Frank is closing in on 70 years old. What year did Reed Richards go into space? 1961 or 2001?
I feel that gently adjusting the past to align better with a character is logical and right and necessary. At it’s most basic and fundamental, it lets the stories get better and be better.
I’m speaking about a mild kind of ‘retconning’ that to me… like, i’m sorry, but making Sue Storm not a child when she met Reed Richards, making her NOT fall in love at first sight with the grown-ass man standing before her 4 year old self and rather giving her agency and action in her own love story hardly seems like a continuity-destroying ZERO HOUR-worthy flaw to be reconciled.
there’s bad examples, of course.
The short version is, i suppose, that it depends but i feel we can’t treat these stories as literal historical documents but rather spiritual ones, for lack of a better world. What’s more important, that Frank Castle was in Vietnam, or that Frank Castle was a soldier, right?
and so on.
By this rationale it doesn’t matter what war Steve Rogers fought in either.
NO, it’s always important that Frank Castle was a product of his time in the Vietnam War.
But I’ll continue to pick and choose which stories personally count, just like you do and how Master Egg Shen taught me.