A Look at the Most Unrealistic & Beloved Franchises in Hollywood

Hollywood films are known for taking a few liberties when it comes to storytelling. And many audiences expect to see films take characters and plots into ‘over the top’ territory. Regardless of genre, whether action or romance or sci-fi, there’s always room for a bit of unexpected twists and turns.

But how can filmmakers and producers know how to tread that line between reality and fiction? Let’s cover a quick example. The Marvel Universe and Fast & Furious are two powerhouse franchises that span the globe—but one has a larger creative license to go over the top. As a superhero universe, Marvel characters and plots should be squarely placed in the fantasy category. 

But anyone who has watched Dominic Toretto catch a sedan midair or watched the Rock bust out of an arm cast by flexing knows that Fast & Furious isn’t afraid to take a few risks. In fact, it’s what fans love about the franchise. Let’s explore some of the top film series that take things wholly over the top—but in all the right ways.

Ocean’s 11

Hollywood has a special relationship with Las Vegas, often imagining the City of Lights in all the wrong ways, often zeroing in on gaming culture. In reality, most people today play their favorite titles online—and table games like roulette are just as popular as poker or blackjack. In other words, more people today are spinning virtual roulette wheels rather than packing into massive brick-and-mortar casinos. 

But exploring casino games on online platforms isn’t nearly as catchy. The backdrop of the Vegas Strip and all its high-profile and high-stakes activities has made it perfect for series like Ocean’s 11. The idea that a rag-tag group of professionals could actually break into a Vegas casino isn’t based on reality or even an urban legend. But audiences have glommed on to this series—enough that there are three films that tell the story of Danny Ocean and his heist inclinations.

James Bond

The International Man of Mystery has been a hot topic for almost a century. The original books from Ian Fleming, first published in 1953, have seen numerous updates and reworks on the silver screen. Most recently, Daniel Craig hung up his hat playing the role—which has led to tons of speculation about who will replace him as 007.

Regardless of who lands the role, audiences will expect a series of truly over-the-top gadgets and storylines. But they’ll also expect to see how these things function together. In other words, because each Bond is unique and each film takes on a new theme, the series has enjoyed endless success because there’s always a new premise—one that’s not afraid to tackle things like crocodile submarines and surfing Icelandic tidal waves.

Pirates of the Caribbean

While the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise might seem rooted in fantasy more than reality, the franchise does a solid job of covering the actual pirate era of the 1700s. At the time, Western European forces were colonizing the Caribbean—and governments weren’t afraid to pay mercenaries to protect their interests. But when the conflict settled, mercenaries became outlaw pirates. 

The first film, released in 2003, hashed out this past in a romantic and action-forward way. But the second took things in a different direction, exploring Davy Jones and his undead crew. Though the entire franchise includes fantasy elements and themes, its success has come from pairing this approach with a historical period that’s as iconic and unique as the Caribbean’s pirate era.

Indiana Jones

Similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Indiana Jones has kept its foot in both fantasy and history—to great avail. The franchise has focused on the 1940s and 50s, during which time archaeology and anthropology were enjoying their golden years. Tomb-raiding was a very real (and problematic) profession back in the day.

But there aren’t many stories about gritty heroes like Indiana Jones running from booby traps to teaching classes at an Ivy League university to uncovering secret cults in faraway lands. Or, at least, there weren’t when this hero was immortalized on the silver screen back in 1981. Some might call Indy one of the first entirely unrealistic but beloved action heroes.


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