The animated series Aeon Flux, which aired on MTV in the early 1990s, is one of the most daring science fiction shows ever created. Sci-fi author Matthew Kressel was a big fan of the cartoon, but was very disappointed by the 2005 live-action movie.
“It was a terrible movie,” Kressel says in Episode 382 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I was super excited when I heard they were making an Aeon Flux movie, and I came out of the theater just despondent. I was like, ‘They ruined it.’”
MTV recently announced that they’re working on a second attempt at a live-action version of Aeon Flux, this time for television. Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley says he’s not looking forward to the show.
“I’m skeptical that any live-action version of Aeon Flux would really work,” he says. “And the fact that it’s the Teen Wolf showrunner and the same producer as the movie, just nothing about this makes me optimistic at all.”
Humor writer Tom Gerencer wishes studios would try to recapture the daring spirit of the original cartoon rather than just copying its characters and ideas. “There’s a massive irony here, in that MTV is saying, ‘You know what was great about Aeon Flux? It was super original, people loved that originality. You know what we need to do? We need to reboot that,’” he says.
TV writer Andrea Kail thinks that the era of experimental television like Aeon Flux is largely over. As budgets for science fiction shows have spiraled higher and higher, studios are taking fewer and fewer chances.
“We have to start taking risks again,” Kail says. “And that’s where indie film comes in, that’s where young filmmakers making movies with their $20 cameras come in. That’s where innovation is going to be. It’s not going to come from large corporations.”
Listen to the complete interview with Matthew Kressel, Tom Gerencer, and Andrea Kail in Episode 382 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Matthew Kressel on taking risks:
“[Aeon Flux] was unafraid to go where they wanted to go. They’re like, ‘Yeah, we’re just going to be overtly sexual, and we’re going to have random scenes where people are licking each other, or two people in spacesuits that are about to launch into the sun are giving each other orgasms by sending pressurized air through their spacesuits, and we’re just going to have this go back and forth five times, while they’re having a conversation.’ … It’s bizarre, and there aren’t that many science fiction shows or films that really take those kinds of risks. Maybe Valerian and Jupiter Ascending. Both of them, yeah they weren’t great films, but they took risks, and I would like to see more of that in science fiction.”
Tom Gerencer on Aeon Flux and The Matrix:
“‘The Purge’ was definitely my favorite episode. It really made me realize that The Matrix owes a huge debt to that episode in particular—and probably to the whole series—because of the little squid thing that goes in Keanu Reeves’ belly button—they pull it out of his belly button because it’s a bug. I remember thinking when I watched that movie, ‘That’s so inventive.’ … Then I watched this episode, and I was like, ‘Holy cow, they basically lifted that straight out of [Aeon Flux].’ Even the way it comes out—they pull it out and break the thing off the top, and it goes dark and still, and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s just like The Matrix.’ So they clearly really loved Aeon Flux, and borrowed from it.”
David Barr Kirtley on mysteries:
“One of the things I always loved about [Aeon Flux] was the sense of mystery, and I always wondered if I could figure out what was really going on. But going back and watching it now, I feel like they took it too far. Maybe I have PTSD after Lost and Battlestar Galactica, but I’m much less willing to give science fiction the benefit of the doubt that this isn’t just weird for its own sake, and that this would reward trying to figure out the mysteries. So some of these things, like this episode ‘Chronophasia,’ I do not believe for a second that it makes any sense, that anyone can explain what’s going on in that episode. … I think it’s just a bunch of weird dream imagery that won’t necessarily reward trying to figure it out.”
Andrea Kail on characterization:
“The episode that I found really affecting is called ‘A Last Time for Everything.’ It’s the one where Trevor creates a second Aeon, and they trade places, and the real Aeon actually falls in love with Trevor. … It was more of an emotional episode, as opposed to this mystery/science fiction kind of thing. It was actually about the relationship between her and Trevor. Because up to that point—and after—they’re rivals. They’re like Spy vs. Spy. They’re constantly trying to kill each other, but also constantly not trying to kill each other. It’s just a game to them, everything is a game to them. This was different. In this episode the relationship between them changed, and it was really interesting to see it.”