seemsunlikely said: One of the things I loved about Christopher Nolan's Batman was that, at times, it seemed like he was trying to take a typical genre movie and ask other questions within it. However, when it ended, it ended as a Superhero movie and ignored much of what made it different. Do you think the same happens with ASOIF? The themes explored do not necessarily mesh well with end-of-world fantasy scenarios. e.g Will Martin be able to give a fantasy ending that stays true to his discussions of power?
Haha, I’m afraid you got off on the wrong foot with me a bit by holding up Nolan’s approach to Batman and superheroes generally as a positive move he abandoned by the end of the final film. I think that series is the single most overrated corpus of filmmaking since the dawn of the blockbuster in the late ’70s; the opening sequences of the two Dark Knight movies, the treatment of city skylines as a form of landscape photography, and the strong, kooky performances by Heath Ledger and (especially) Tom Hardy as villains are about all that save them for me. Turgid, ineptly staged, and about as deep as a papercut. Also Batman’s basically a supporting character for Jim Gordon, and what’s up with that? (Hello, my name is Sean, and I’m a very big fan of Batman.)
Anyway! Me being a huge dick aside, I get what you’re saying. What it comes down to, for me, isn’t the ending, but what happens after. The post-climax.
I enjoy fantasy storytelling so I don’t have a problem with a fantasy climax, provided it meets the same criteria I’d apply to any kind of art — is it inventive, is it well, executed, does it make clever and effective use of its genre, does it feel like the artist is communicating a vision I wouldn’t otherwise have seen, etc etc.
After that is where it gets interesting. To use my go-to example, the Harry Potter series, over the course of those novels J.K. Rowling slowly seeded a great many plot points that pointed to some kind of reckoning with the wizarding community’s excesses — its treatment of elves, goblins, dragons, muggles, and so on, its political and media culture, the existence of a dorm where all the evil kids are sent to be evil together, etc. But instead of dealing with any of that, she cut directly from the still-smoldering battlefield to that dopey epilogue where everyone was married to people they’d met before they learned how to shave or masturbate. I don’t begrudge Rowling the big good-vs.-evil climax (well, actually I think it was kind of a mess, with an overcomplicated and disproportionate emphasis on how wands work and plot-armor galore for all the characters that matter, but the idea of it is fine) — I begrudge her failure to do anything interesting with the aftermath, her sense that having delivered the big ending, she could rest on her laurels as though that were enough. It wasn’t.
If The Lord of the Rings had ended with the destruction of the Ring and the coronation of Aragorn without the scouring of the Shire and the departure from the Grey Havens, it would be a different, worse book. But Tolkien, a veteran of the trenches who knows a lot more about shades of grey than this fandom and the world at large tend to give him credit for, put in the hard work of playing out the themes of loss and of genuine self-sacrifice, the sacrifice of your potential for happiness in order to help other people, to the end. That’s totally compatible with the super-duper-über-goes-to-11 FANTASY ENDING he otherwise delivered. And that’s totally possible in A Song of Ice and Fire as well.