The Old Guard

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Name: The Old Guard
Abbreviation(s): TOG
Creator: Greg Rucka; he also wrote the 2020 film screenplay
Date(s): 2017 - present,
2020 (film)
Medium: comic books, film
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: IMBD
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Old Guard is 2020 film, based on a comic book series of the same name. The Old Guard follows a group of immortal mercenaries, as they struggle to maintain their anonymity in the modern world.

The film has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 81% Certified Fresh. It became one of Netflix's "most viewed original films, and director Gina Prince-Bythewood made history as the first Black woman to helm a major comic book film." [1] This has led to rumors of a possible sequel.

Canon

Immortal Characters

Non-Immortal Characters

  • James Copley, a former CIA agent born in Boston whose family moved to London when he was four years old, resulting in him having a strong English accent. The team worked with him previously.
  • Dizzy Ali, a soldier in Nile's company
  • Jordan "Jay" Worley (?), a soldier in Nile's company
  • Steven Merrick, CEO of Merrick Pharmaceuticals
  • Dr. Meta Kozak, lead scientist for Merrick Pharmaceuticals
  • Keane, head of security for Steven Merrick
  • Celeste, the clerk in the pharmacy

Differences Between Comic and Film

Spoiler warning: 5 major differences between 'The Old Guard' movie and comics

Fandom

The fandom exploded in popularity following the release of the Netflix film adaptation on July 10, 2020. While the comic series had a small handful of works on AO3 prior to that date, the number grew quickly in the weeks following. By August 2, the fandom tag hit 1000 works. By August 24, there were 2017 works in the tag. By August 27, there were 2156 works in the tag.

In addition, some works are being published only on certain platforms, such as Tumblr, and not reposted elsewhere. Discord servers and channels on multiple other servers added to the growing list of outlets for fannish production and discussion.

Many fans reported being initially drawn in by the promotional trailers and images of Charlize Theron wielding an axe, continuing her recent trend of starring in intense action-oriented films. However, a common reaction [2] seemed to be genuine surprise at the diversity of the cast, the emotional depth of the relationships, and the subversion of tropes like Bury Your Gays.

man, as someone who’s been in Marvel/DC fandoms for the better part of a decade, to have something like the old guard come around and be like “oh, you want a superhero movie that treats its women with respect?” “you want a canon queer couple that are main characters?” “you want a genuinely diverse cast?” “you want a found family narrative that actually shows the love and affection this group of people has for each other?” finally, some good fucking food
Tumblr post by user magicalbloke

The dominant pairing in this fandom is the canon slash pairing of Joe/Nicky. Femslash works pairing Andy/Quynh and Andy/Nile Freeman also appear. Other pairings/relationships include Nile/Joe/Nicky, Nile/Booker, and various permutations of the team with each other as well as or with original characters.

As what commonly happens in fandoms with deep historical ties, an explosion of history references, sources, and debate have been shared and explored. See the #Fandom Practices.

Common Tropes & Storylines

The Old Guard AU

The Old Guard has also inspired fusion fanworks. An Old Guard fusion is an AU that takes characters from a different source material and makes them immortal. In some cases, the canonical death of a character is a jumping off point, with the character resurrected and discovering their immortality. In this way, some Old Guard AU works resemble fix-it fics. However, not all of these works use canonically dead characters as their inspiration.

Shipping

The fandom's shipping practices overwhelmingly focus on the canon couple: Joe/Nicky.

As of 12 September 2020, the pairing tag accounted for about 2050 works out of a total of about 2700 (although some overlap between movie and comics fandom makes this count somewhat inaccurate.)

Other pairings include:

Fandom Practices

Some fannish activity of note has taken place around the creation of collaborative resource documents. According to its creator's post, the stated intent of The Old Guard Resource Hub (accessed August 24, 2020) (archive link) is to provide access to fannish analysis of the characters, or to link to online or print resources which could help fans with historical context. The Resource Hub Google Doc was created by with-my-murder-flute on August 13, 2020, and by August 18th had expanded from 7 pages to 17 [3], with collaborative write-ups under way for each of the principal characters. The document also had a section, arranged chronologically, for contributors to provide resources around historical events mentioned in canon. As of September 2020, the document was still being added to and circulated on Tumblr periodically. Additionally, sufficient fans had heard of the Resource Hub to recommend it to other users newer to the fandom, many of whom were looking for resources about character backstories or the timeline of key events the Guard had been involved in, extrapolated from screenshots of Copley's board in the film.

Another document was created earlier on July 23, 2020 and titled The Old Guard master doc (accessed August 24, 2020); contributors suggested changes in the document, and the document was mediated directly by its creator himbojoenicky (formerly brucewaynery). The document as of August 24, 2020 gave character profiles based on their presentation in canon, as well as a general timeline of key events in the Old Guards' history.

Other fannish practices included the hosting of events such as Fests or Challenges. Additionally, an interest form for a fanzine circulated on Tumblr starting on September 15th, with a close date of September 30th 2020. The organizer requested information related to possible contributors of writing and art, as well as logistics around the zine such as price point. The Zine opened for artist and writer applications in October with a close date of October 31, 2020 noted in the application form. On February 1st, 2021, a Kickstarter launched to support the printing of Epoch: An Historical Old Guard Fan Zine.

Events and Challenges

Discussions and Controversies

A number of meta issues are being explored and debated in the Old Guard fandom, especially around the themes of race and ethnicity, religion and misogyny. In some cases, fans are trying to counteract inaccurate and/or harmful elements which exist in the comics canon.

Examples include:

  • The historical (in)accuracies of fanworks:
    • Inclusion of stereotypical Crusader imagery or derogatory ethnic terms in fanworks set in medieval times[4] [5] [6]
    • Depiction of homophobia and sexual politics[7] [8] [9]
  • Issues relating to Joe's race, ethnicity, name and religion, often in the context of the perceived preferred fanon dynamics of the Joe/Nicky relationship[10] [11] [12] [13][14]
  • The fandom's (typical) focus on the slash pairing over works centering the female characters[15][16][17]
  • The fandom's (typical) tendancy to try and focus on/sympathize with/redeem the (ostensibly straight) white "villain" character in the person of Booker[18] [19]
  • The lack of critical analysis in canon and fanon re:Nile's past as a US Marine deployed in Afghanistan[20] [21] [22]
  • The differences between criticism of fanworks and fandom policing, as evidenced through a summary of discourse provided by mewbotz [23] with additions by shadowhannibad [24] and lazaefair [25]. This conversation was notable in that some of the users who were involved in a discourse thread took time to clarify their points of view with each other and defuse a conflict.
  • Fandom tendencies to treat POC opinions as monolithic, although why this is considered problematic depends on the individual [26][27]
  • Concerns that some fans are using discourse or imbroglios within the fandom as an excuse to label fannish creations “problematic” for containing a trope, rather than on the basis of actual content in or attributes of the work[28][29][30][31] See also Top!Joe (trope).
  • Differences in readings of canon or word of god statements from the creators[32][33]

This article or section needs expansion.

Example Fanworks

Fanart

Fanvids

Meta

Fanfiction

Podfic

Other

Archives & Communities

References

  1. ^ Netflix's The Old Guard director reveals how the movie made history
  2. ^ Tumblr post by takethisnight-wrapitaroundme, 22 July 2020
  3. ^ Tumblr post by with-my-murder-flute, 18 August 2020
  4. ^ The Crusades: A Fandom Primer, Archived version by sixthlight on Tumblr
  5. ^ A historical overview of the term Saracen and its implications: a primer for the TOG fandom by figure8/lgbtmazight
  6. ^ Tumblr discussion about the use of Crusader lore by fuckyeahisawthat, sara_writes, viridanpanther, with-my-murder-flute, Archived version
  7. ^ Answer to a Tumblr ask about sexuality in medieval ages by mrmarinelli, Archived version
  8. ^ Answer to a Tumblr ask about homophobia by fuckyeahisawthat, Archived version
  9. ^ Yusuf ibn Ibrahim al-Tayyib al-Kaysani’s Ethnicity by histori-old-guard-lover, Archived version
  10. ^ Some Points by ElephantOfAfrica
  11. ^ Listen. The sexual positions are not the point. Tumblr post about top/bottom discourse in TOG by lazaefair, Archived version
  12. ^ *whispers* it is not yusuf’s job, in canonverse or modern au, to deradicalise niccolo by tovezza, Archived version
  13. ^ Meta about Joe's name by lgbtmazight, Archived version
  14. ^ orientalism and Joe as the unchanging other by gethporno, Archived version
  15. ^ I have a huge problem with this Tumblr post by fandomhateswomen, Archived version
  16. ^ fandom statistics on femslash from Oct 5 2020 - a discussion between thirst-teenth, helendamnationx, enechelon, and others, Archived version
  17. ^ fandom stats re: femslash as of Nov 1 2020 by thirst-teenth, Archived version
  18. ^ Booker meta by sophiamcdougall, Archived version
  19. ^ Booker meta by celialestial, Archived version
  20. ^ Tumblr post by vrabia, Archived version
  21. ^ Tumblr discussion by vrabia & takiki16, Archived version
  22. ^ Tumblr discussion by vrabia, fuckyeahisawthat, and sixth-light, Archived version
  23. ^ Tumblr post entitled "Conversation vs Criticism in the Old Guard Fandom" by mewbotz, Archived version
  24. ^ Addition to mewbotz's post by shadowhannibad, Archived version
  25. ^ Addition to mewbotz's post by lazaefafir, Archived version
  26. ^ really wish that people made the effort to use specific terminology when talking about bias in tog fandom by lgbtmazight, Archived version
  27. ^ As a POC fan, I’m going to add my two cent by eisul, Archived version
  28. ^ So I was pretty hesitant in answering these anons by odyssxus, Archived version
  29. ^ There are problems in The Old Guard fandom that should be pointed out by nizarnizarblr, Archived version
  30. ^ Anon ask requesting a user to clarify their stance on trope preference with commentary from karanoidandroid and shadowhannibad, Archived version
  31. ^ Response to an anon re: white knighting / purity police by mewbotz, Archived version
  32. ^ Anonymous ask re: fic writers making Yusuf or Nicolo bi/pan with response from of-scythia, Archived version
  33. ^ this is why i have Issues with word of god, especially as it pertains to sexuality and representation – response to an anon by of-scythia, Archived version