Can a “24” Prequel Capture the Magic of the Original Show?

Matthew Loffhagen
Fox
(Photo: Fox)

The idea of a prequel series to “24” is sure to excite a lot of fans of the original show.

“24” is probably due one of the common revivals that are always making the rounds in modern television. We’ve rebooted or continued shows from the ‘80s and ‘90s, so it’s time for the ‘00s to shine.

For a brief, glorious moment last decade, “24” was all anyone wanted to talk about. The show’s many twists and turns were enough to make audiences forget about the implausibility of the narrative’s structure.

I’m therefore not surprised at all that Fox might want a young Jack Bauer to take up the mantle. This is significantly cheaper than getting Kiefer Sutherland back, but it allows the series to continue in a logical fashion.

That said, I’m never convinced about prequels. These things don’t generally turn out particularly well.

The “Smallville” Syndrome

The appeal of a prequel is understandable. People like a certain character, and enjoy the mystique surrounding their backstory, so they want to see what events led them to become who they are later in life.

In practice, though, this often turns into “Smallville”. Hours upon hours of allusion to a future hero role without ever actually giving audiences anything more than a tease.

The biggest challenge with this kind of show is casting Baby Jack.

As has been proven very recently by “Solo: a Star Wars Story”, it’s not enough to simply throw any talented young actor into a role like this and allow them to make it their own.

Audiences need to believe that this genuinely is the same character. He needs to be compelling enough on-screen to carry a show in spite of its existing clout.

Honestly, it’s probably easier for an actor to play an entirely new character, rather than try to play a younger version of such a well-defined presence in pop-culture.

X-Men First Class
Source: 20th Century Fox

This isn’t to say that it can’t be achieved. “X-Men: First Class” tells the story of a young Magneto and Xavier, and does so in such a compelling way that it’s actually one of the best “X-Men” movies.

The idea of replacing Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart with younger, less dramatic actors seems laughable, and yet, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy do such a great job that they’re still playing these characters nearly a decade later.

If Fox can find the right actor, and the right script, and the right focus for this prequel, it could definitely work.

A Tough Challenge

There are a lot of ifs, buts, and maybes involved with a project like this.

Presumably, the logic for not simply continuing the saga with a different character at the foreground is because Fox wants to leave the door open for yet another show revival in the future, with Old Man Jack still hard at work saving the world.

Jack Bauer 24
Source: Fox

In the meantime, this potential “24” prequel could be exactly what fans would love to see.

So long as Fox can find a young actor that people are genuinely interested in seeing fill the shoes of the legendary Jack Bauer.

It’s just a shame this kind of thing is so far below Tom Holland’s pay grade!

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