Modular Franchise

Sometimes a creator or company will strike gold. A work (film, novel, etc) may spawn sequels, adaptations to other media, and a bonanza of merchandise. Usually, it'll take place in its own distinct universe, the author having significant autonomy, or the time and place keeping it off limit for crossovers, like Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.

However, sometimes the creator or company will try to replicate its own success, and come up with creations in similar genres. The similarities are noted and sooner or later the separate creations wind up crossing over with each other—either to pool resources that are individually flagging in interest, or just to enjoy the benefits of a crossover. This new Shared Universe is a pretty perfect fit, and eventually it's seen as one giant franchise. However, at some point they may want to reboot only one piece of their mega-franchise, or adapt the simplest, most distilled aspect as it was originally envisioned. Luckily, these properties started out as their own franchise, so they can certainly stand on their own. But what you have is a modular franchise—full of properties that can be self-sustaining on their own, but also easily and even organically marketed as a unit.

Similar to Canon Welding, except usually done at a corporate level, and The Merch plays a much bigger role, if not the entire incentive.

See also Massive Multiplayer Crossover.

Examples:

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     Multiple Mediums  

     Comic Books  

  • Superman and Batman are individually massive cultural icons. They're also members of the Justice League, which consists of all of DC Comic's other major superheroes—including ones like Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash or Supergirl who are popular in their own right. So you may see these characters playing out individually, or as a combo of the company's superhero line.
  • Marvel Comics is a little more complex. They will often place things under the "Marvel Super-Heroes" banner. But unlike DC's stable, they don't always play well together, and many of their most popular characters aren't even major players in the company's Justice League analogue, The Avengers. Thus, for the purposes of editors, movie franchises or toys, they may divide the Marvel Universe into different "corners", with Spider-Man and the X-Men most often being their own distinct franchises. However, this may be changing, with both Spidey and Wolverine now included as Avenger members.
  • The Disney Mouse and Duck Comics follow the same basic rule as the Disney Animated Canon (see below), with all the characters inhabiting the same universe — but Donald Duck and his family primarily stay in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe, while Mickey Mouse and his friends have the Mickey Mouse Comic Universe, with the occasional crossover. There are also comic stories that are clearly part of the same universe but don't clearly take place with either Mice or Ducks — such as Chip 'n Dale's solo comics.
  • Brian Michael Bendis' Jinx and Goldfish don't appear to be part of a superhero universe, but since the stories were published by Image Comics, and Jinx crosses over with the Spawn spin-off Sam and Twitch, the stories could take place in the Image universe.

     Film  

     Video Games  

     Western Animation  

     Sports  

  • Professional teams are considered franchises in their own right, but the entire league its a brand name it will try to exploit—using the imagery of its various teams.
    • Football goes one step further, since there's both a national league and continental confederation for any given team. So, for example, Real Madrid is part of the branding of both Spain's La Liga and UEFA's Champions League.


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