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"Which is "canon", movie or book?" Topic

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Winston Smith25 Jul 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

That is "canon", not "cannon". Two different things. grin

I got into an argument with a guy at work. It started out with some ooohing and aaaahing over last night's episode of Game of Thrones. He is That Guy (no shame in that, I'm often That Guy too) who bemoaned departure from the books.
I told him what I often say here. That I consider the HBO series camo , and the books have become fan fiction. He was aghast. The argument went into several tangents. I think I won the day when I brought up The Godfather and Gone with the Wind. Nobody reads the books anymore and the movies are classics. By the way, I will read the trashy book on occasion to fill in blanks (Al Nieri), but the Godfather movie is far superior.

In my sense, "canon" means the accepted story.
Perhaps it's a bit too harsh to call the Ice and Fire books "fan fiction", but where is Book 6? Etc. Martin has nobody to blame but himself for this.

Anyway, here are a few "stories" where I consider the moving picture production superior to the printed one. So superior that it might be considered "canon".

Game of Thrones (as opposed to The Dong of Ice and Fire books)
The Godfather
Gone with the Wind

Here are some cases where it's the exact opposite.
The Hobbit

Fill in your own.

leidang25 Jul 2017 7:48 a.m. PST

Original source is always canon to me. Sometimes what follows surpasses it but that doesn't change it's origins.

advocate25 Jul 2017 8:07 a.m. PST

Original source for me.

coryfromMissoula25 Jul 2017 8:12 a.m. PST

In this era of remakes and pop culture it is not just book/movie.

Is the original Ghostbusters canon over the remake? What about the Real Ghostbusters animated series? The West End RPG?

Ultimately I usually consider canon to be who ever is in control of the ongoing versus who bought a temporary license.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2017 8:14 a.m. PST

Original source as well

However to the public Gone with the Wind is an example of more people having seen the movie versus read the book public perception of the canon can be different and swayed with new versions designed to sell more tickets and books etc…

Look at how many times Superman for example has been rebooted I would stick to the original for the canon the rest something different

Then again History is written by the victor

PMC31725 Jul 2017 8:17 a.m. PST

I think the two stories have diverged (significantly) in several respects; I also think that the Game of Thrones series is, by and large, better than the books. Partly this is because they have benefitted from ruthless editing! GRRM's doorstopper-tome-series has a million plot threads and almost no ends. Characters appear, then disappear with no resolution more often than not, and the length of time it's taken him to finish the series is… disappointing (but also understandable as a writer myself).

So for me, while ASOIAF is canon, GoT is better. Does that make sense?

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2017 8:19 a.m. PST

Original source, be it book or movie. Reboots are messed up!

Zyphyr25 Jul 2017 8:39 a.m. PST

Separate realities with some overlapping events. Each is 'Canon' within its own reality, but utterly irrelevant in the others.

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2017 8:44 a.m. PST

Always the book, not Hollywood's interpretation of it.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Jul 2017 9:06 a.m. PST

Uh, but is "Dong of Ice & Fire" available only on the porno aisle?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2017 9:15 a.m. PST

I don't think it's an answerable question. When you play in someone else's world--writing a pastiche, creating a film or a comic book version, or composing a set of wargame rules or an RPG scenario--someone (usually the person putting up money or the person granting rights) has to decide what prior material the new thing is to be consistent with, and they can pick any criterion they feel like using.

Sometimes it's "none." "Sherlock" and "Elementary" both completely disregarded any parts of Conan Doyle they didn't care for. Hardly any of the Conan on movies and TV makes any effort to agree with Robert Howard. And there's precious little of Ian Flaming in any recent Bond film.

But--other than licensing agreements--if it's anything at all, it's the original material. The movies and television shows "reboot" and disregard earlier takes, and pastiches by different authors virtually never accept other pastiches as canon.

The good part of all this is that we may never see the L. Sprague de Camp/Lin Carter Conan stories again, nor anything derived from them.

Thomas Thomas25 Jul 2017 9:21 a.m. PST

Cannon is the original source material everything else is a variant. This does not mean variants do not have merit. Romeo and Juliet is Cannon, West Side Story a great variant.

Can a variant improve on the source material of course. Has Game of Thrones improved on A Song of Ice and Fire? A subjective question tied to individual taste. Like beauty and humor what is true for you is not necessarily true for me. I don't, for instance, find the Three Stooges funny many disagree.

For a while I boycotted the HBO version to avoid spoilers but a book devoted friend convinced me of my folly pointing out that the serias was all in good fun but had no more final relevance to the "real story" than the many Fire and Ice campaigns we set in Westeros that have placed many houses on the Iron Throne. Kit Harrington pretending to be Jon Snow with that terrible man bun is just as harmless as dressing up for DragonCon in Ice and Fire costumes.

I've enjoyed the HBO version some aspects are quite good (they could not have found a better Sam Tarley, Rose Leslie made a (too) lovely Ygritte, Charles Dance (with too much hair) a menacing Tywin and of course Peter Dinklidge but we also got Sean Bean wasted with a terrible wig, a mis-cast
Cateyln and weird hit and miss costuming but who would have wanted to miss Hardhomme or The Battle of the Bastards it even looked a bit like a real medieval battle….)

Martin's masterwork has inspired some great variants an nice board game, card game and OK computer game (not to mention A Game of Fire and Ice!). And of course a ground breaking HBO serias which puts fantasy tales back where they belong as rich cultural refelctions combined with timeless truths about humans.

Martin's work is more sprawling and much more based on actual history (in his recent interview with Time he made clear its origins are in the politics of both the 100 Years War and War of the Roses). History is not tidy and has many characters some flash in the pans (like for instance Joan of Arc) others lasting forces of cultural change.

In the Time interview and recent blog Martin has exhibited a new dedication to finishing. And its about time. For some reason I actually believe his 2018 prediction. Let's hope.

Till then there are still Fire and Ice Campaigns to run lots of great gaming to fill the time till Martin speaks.

So paint up your favorite house and game on (we at least have some great HBO battles to come for inspiration).

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame and Glory Games

capncarp25 Jul 2017 9:22 a.m. PST

"Uh, but is "Dong of Ice & Fire" available only on the porno aisle?"
It's available in a plain dragonskin wrapper from under the counter. Ask the clerk "What do you think will ever really satisfy Cersei?" as the password.

Garand25 Jul 2017 9:32 a.m. PST

Both are canon. After the years of endless superhero reboots (how many times have we had a new Spiderman? 3?) & the like, I see these as their own "seperate" universes. FREX the "core" Spiderman comics would be Earth 1. The Ultimate universe Earth 2, the 1st movie trilogy Earth 3, the 2nd reboot Earth 4, & the current "shared" universe Spidey as Earth 5. All are canon within their own universes. So what happens or how Spidey is depicted in the comics does not necessarily mean the same will happen or be meaningful for any of the movie series. Same for something like GoT or any other franchise. All exist & are canon for their particular medium.


Ooh Rah25 Jul 2017 9:35 a.m. PST

Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle is canon.
Everything else is heresy.

miniMo25 Jul 2017 9:46 a.m. PST

Adam West is Batman.

boy wundyr x25 Jul 2017 10:22 a.m. PST

Personally, Episodes IV-VI of Star Wars are canon, Ep. I-III are heresy, and Episode VII+ are alternative facts to the Heir to the Empire book trilogy! (and I liked Ep. VII)

Dagwood25 Jul 2017 12:52 p.m. PST

Characters appear, then disappear with no resolution more often than not

Didn't they all die ?

HidaSeku25 Jul 2017 1:13 p.m. PST

+1 boy wundyr x

Dwindling Gravitas25 Jul 2017 1:21 p.m. PST



/incoming ….

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2017 2:45 p.m. PST

By definition the book/original source is canon so its hard to argue that.

However, it is easy to argue alternate sources such as a movie or series are better than the book/original source.

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2017 3:37 p.m. PST

Wizard of Oz is another example.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2017 4:26 p.m. PST

While the original is always the canonical source (how's that fer fancy talkin') I must say that there are a few examples where the movie version is better (and I agree that Game of Thrones is better on TV than in the books)

awalesII25 Jul 2017 10:06 p.m. PST

"Romeo and Juliet is Cannon, West Side Story a great variant."

This logic has a limit does it not. At some point every story is simply a variant of the story before it. Clearly WSS is based on RJ. But they are clearly not the same in a great many ways.

IMHO, it's who tells it best wins. Generally the artist is the one who does it first and the business man who sees buck in a different medium or younger audience does it second. So the original has heart while the second has a budget.

But as with GF example, this isn't always the case. Sometimes an original work spurs an artist who takes the original and does so much more with it.

Remember, it's art not history. We don't have to go back the the original Latin to enjoy it :)

chromedog26 Jul 2017 5:33 a.m. PST

For me, "Canon" is a matter for religious zealots, nothing more.

Jakar Nilson26 Jul 2017 7:58 a.m. PST

And then you have rare cases like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where every version (yes, even the towel) is canon.

Star Wars, Star Trek and Gundam have all had problems with what materials are considered canon over the years. The Extended Universe for Star Wars was recently thrown under the bus, episodes from every Trek series have been questioned for canonicity, and there was the period when Sunrise refused to include Gundam ZZ in the official Universal Century timeline (until Gundam Unicorn was released, thus rendering the Ple cybernewtype program canon once again).

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2017 8:42 a.m. PST

In the case of GoT – I suspect that the books will never be finished.

Basic point, I do enjoying seeing other interpretations but the pictures in my head inspired by the books are preferable.

Bunkermeister Supporting Member of TMP26 Jul 2017 5:21 p.m. PST

Adam West is Batman.

Very true.

And this is his Batmobile:

Mike Bunkermeister Creek

Dynaman878927 Jul 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

Whichever I like best.

Ottoathome28 Jul 2017 2:20 p.m. PST

Dear Winston

Sorry the thread wandered off track.

You hade the right idea at start. "Canon" is not a single work but a group of them (when we are talking about books) and possibly about films but it is not an archetype.

I understand your difference in certain things, Godfather movie versus Godfather book. What you are talking here about is more "authoritative" not canon. Lord of the Righs is "the Source" , the authoritative account from which others are derived.

Arguably Godfather the movie is the cannon where the book is not as well read. But the choice is not yours to make. What remains in a canon is the passing or failing of the test of time.

Royston Papworth31 Jul 2017 2:02 a.m. PST

one thing though. The TV programmes are now coming out before the books. This makes them the original source, so therefore are they not canon?

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART02 Aug 2017 4:28 a.m. PST

GRRM has basically agreed to the diverging directions between the books and the TV series. Both are now canon unto themselves.

Wow, I can post again!

magical monstrous steve01 Jul 2018 5:48 p.m. PST

Something important is being missed in all of this- neither book, nor movie, nor tv show is cannon- only the theme song to the aforementioned movie or tv show is truly cannon.

Zephyr101 Jul 2018 9:23 p.m. PST

Anybody else notice that Robin is sucking his thumb? ;-)

Mithmee03 Jul 2018 12:31 p.m. PST

Books but Martin is so slow at finishing the story.

Cacique Caribe09 Jul 2018 9:15 p.m. PST

Whichever one (episode or novel) gets released to the public first.

If the tv episodes get ahead of the books, because the author got tired of writing or whatever other excuse, then any books that might get written later on that character or event simply become alternate timelines or filler material for the tv series.


Bill N10 Jul 2018 5:29 a.m. PST

I realize I am late coming to the game.

Where you have a work or series of works which is based on another work or series of works, then between the two of them the original work is canon. The exception to this is where the original series of works continues to be developed after the derivative series begins, and the original series incorporates elements and developments of the derivative work into its story line.

The derivative work itself can become canon as to works coming after. The classic example to this would be the sequel or spinoff where story line and character development was based on things in the derivative work that were not found in the original.

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