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Give Scooby Doo to Rian Johnson, you cowards

Critically speaking, the Scooby Doo franchise is in a bit of a rut right now. The Knives Out and Poker Face director can save it

Image credit: Warner Bros, Lucasfilm

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As the lyrics to his historic theme song claim, you can indeed count on Scooby Doo. The thing is, though, we're at a point in that franchise's history where Scooby, and the whole Mystery Gang, need to count on someone else. Disagree with me though you may; somebody's got to help Shaggy, Daphne, Velma, Fred and their talking dog out of a slump.

But don't worry, I've got just the person to get the Mystery Machine out of its current ditch. That is, the director of Looper, Brick, and so many other great projects - Rian Johnson. Give me a couple minutes of your time and I'll tell you why.

The new Scooby Doo movies & TV shows haven't been well recieved

Image credit: Warner Bros.

Before we move along, I want to address a question you might have as you're reading this - does Scooby Doo really need saving? It's an eternally popular IP across films and TV - Hell, even LEGO sets - so where do I get off saying it's in need of rescue?

Maybe I'm being overly negative, but a peak into Scooby's recent history paints a somewhat bleak picture. Velma, the R-Rated Scooby update for HBO Max that came out in 2023, is sitting at a sad 39% on Rotten Tomatoes. Scoob!, the franchise's most recent big screen outing from 2020, got 1½ stars from, despite a cast featuring Amanda Seyfried and Will Forte. Even Scooby's most recent family-friendly TV project, 2019's Scooby Doo and Guess Who, failed to impress fans of the franchise, who couldn't help but compare it to the much-lauded Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated series from 2010.

Doesn't that tell you that those meddling kids could use a makeover? The franchise needs new blood, someone with a keen sense of humor and a talent for storytelling.

Someone, perhaps, who knows his way around a whodunit.

Rian Johnson, Mystery Master

Image credit: Netflix, Peacock

As if the name of the van isn't explanation enough, the heart of the Scooby Doo franchise is its mysteries. Yes, they're a little tamer than a Tue Detective or even an Agatha Christie but the central question behind every piece of Scooby Doo media is: "Who's behind the spooky mask?"

(Interestingly, that's also what drives every Scream movie - expect a thinkpiece very soon.)

And when it comes to mysteries, no one in Hollywood is doing them better right now than our boy Rian. As I'm writing this, the internet is alight with excitement ofver the just announced title to the third Knives Out movie, with fans already speculating over what it could mean to Benoit Blanc's newest adventure. And then on the small screen, Johnson Poker Face electified the streaming world last year, making it onto Popverse's list of the best 2023 shows.

But even beyond his talent for the tease, his pinache with puzzles, Rian Johnson's got something going for him as a creator, particularly one working within an IP sandbox, that makes him great for a new Doo.

And yes, it's got to do with Star Wars.

A Force for Change

Image credit: Lucasfilm

Maybe you adored The Last Jedi, maybe you loathed it; as a kind of Star Wars agnostic, I don't find myself in either camp. But I'll tell you one thing that Rian Johnson's contribution to the Galaxy Far, Far Away had going for it - it was different, truly separate from the films that had come before. In a franchise that was all about family, Johnson chose to make Rey an ancestorless orphan. In a world of Chosen Ones and Prophecies, Johnson chose to democratize the Force. And in a cinematic landscape of overly-CGIed little alien dudes, well, you know what I mean.

I know, I know, all those decisions Johnson made were underwritten. But it doesn't change their original boldness, a boldness that proves Johnson could do something really exciting with our favorite teen slueths. Remember the Mystery Incorporated show I mentioned earlier? Part of what made it such a hit was that it changed the lore of Scooby Doo, working Scooby, Shaggy, and the gang into a larger mythos of creepy capers and talking animals across time.

There is no doubt in my mind that Scooby Doo will continue as a franchise, but let me on another of my firm beliefs: after a half-century of existence, the Scooby gang's adventures deserve not to just keep on, but to be great, as great as Mystery Incoroprated or the live-action films or whatever Scobbiverse you prefer. I don't want to just see the Mystery Machine get out of that ditch, I want so see a great creator behind the wheel. And in my mind, there's no more qualified driver than Rian Johnson.

Then again, has anyone called James Gunn? Is he busy these days?

There's a lot of Mystery Inc. entertainment out there; let Popverse help you through it with our Scooby Doo watch order.

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