"Does it hold up?"

More than ever, this question seems to get thrown around in any discussion regarding the merit of any "classic" film. Sometimes this question is absolutely warranted. After all, it's hard to consider something truly classic if it does not, at least in some way, transcend its own circumstances. Even films that are largely dated in certain ways can still overcome this if other aspects of the film still stand out. It is when a film can do this: stand up on its own, despite its age, and still maintain a high-quality viewing experience, that it clearly deserves to be in our canon of classic films.

The idea of a film being considered classic seems strange now, however, or at the very least, redefined. The reason why it is becoming more and more difficult to imagine current films standing out as classics is because they are becoming progressively less judged on their own merits. In order to fully consider many of the biggest films currently, and what they are doing, there has to be a great deal of context given. This context stems from the biggest trend in filmmaking right now--franchises.

Movie franchises are far from a new concept, even among classics. Among IMDB's Top 250, five of the top ten films, The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, The Dark Knight, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly all happen to be part of film series. However, there is a very serious distinction between all of these films and the entries into the mega franchises of today. Each of these five films, with the exception of The Return of the King, functions incredibly well as a standalone film. They are not overly dependent upon their predecessors to set up their story, nor are they working to set up future films. In the case of The Return of the King, it is simply the conclusion of one story told over three films.

This is why it is difficult to imagine most of the largest films being released right now being considered classic someday. The great majority of them are not trying to stand on their own as a film. Instead, they are puzzle pieces. Their primary function is not necessarily to tell a story in a compelling way, but to lead viewers to the next story. Defeating the villain isn't as important as uncovering the bigger villain that was behind the whole thing.

Now, marketing is largely based on building up social media buzz and getting people talking, so it's actually better for movie studios to make their films interconnected and open-ended. People are more likely to talk about the unanswered questions about what's next, not what got answered in the film they just saw. Because of this, films that stand on their own are going to become fewer and farther between, and thus, so will films worthy of canonization.

This is true, at least, of major studio productions and the highest budget films each year. This is why it is incredibly important that we, as film lovers and moviegoers, support films and filmmakers that showcase unique and original ideas in the best ways we can--our money, and our voices. It is totally fine to enjoy and partake in the films of these massive franchises. However, it is also important that we give support to smaller films, as well. This shows studios that they should spend their time and money making these films, as well as their large franchises.

By doing that, we all have a much better chance of seeing films that will one day be worthy arguing over whether they hold up as classics.