Transitioning From Jason Voorhees To Tommy Jarvis As The Franchise Lead Was A Welcome Detour

“They’d gotten rid of their Darth Vader, which I thought was a big mistake”

Nowadays, most franchise fans celebrate Friday The 13th: A New Beginning  but that wasn’t always the case when the film was released in theaters in 1985. When the plot was eventually revealed, that Jason was indeed dead, and that the franchise was going back to a whodunnit, fans were very upset. 

Director Danny Steinmann mentioned in an interview in the excellent book Crystal Lake Memories that he thought it was a big mistake to get rid of Jason, their “Darth Vader”.

Shifting the focus of a franchise from an antagonist to a one time protagonist was a risky gamble and one that many people did not understand, nor did they really want. There have recently been numerous films that have explored how one traumatizing experience for a character can define their life, in most instances sending them in downward spiral. 

In this year’s new Halloween film, PTSD is the central focus of the character of Laurie Strode and how it shaped her life. In A New Beginning, the exploration of Tommy’s broken psyche was central to not only the character, but the use of the loose whodunnit plot device that surrounded the Pinehurst halfway house. Danny Steinmann had this to say about the character and the events from early teen years with Jason: 

“So I felt that Part V should be Tommy’s story. His hallucinations, his ordeals, his trying to fight back the rage to kill. He’s still plagued by the memories of Jason. Whether it’s the real Jason or not would be the focus. Who is doing the killing? And for what reason? It would be a departure from the other Friday the 13th films. We’d concentrate on one character, Tommy Jarvis, who we are not too sure of—we don’t know whether to sympathize with him, or fear him.” 

As the years have passed by, fans have learned to not take the film’s central focus of Tommy so serious and enjoy the other character’s introduced in the film. A New Beginning can indeed be looked at as a postscript to Tommy’s journey from adolescent mask maker to slightly deranged psychotic. Although the scarred mind of a Voorhees survivor had been explored in smaller detail in other films in the franchise, Tommy’s transition from two-time survivor to would-be killer is a fascinating view while enjoying the horrific events unfold around him at a halfway house that would send him over the edge.

A New Beginning did not alter the eventual path of the franchise, but it did serve an interesting segue to the latter part film series. If only Tommy would have been allowed to embark on his own murderous killing spree. How different a franchise would fans have endured?

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