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The Dark Knight trilogy has its fans, but another Christopher Nolan film has a fandom that goes even deeper.
While the rest of Christopher Nolan fandom was gearing up for the release of The Dark Knight Rises last month, Inception fandom had a different reason to look forward to July: the month-long party, kicked off on July 16, to celebrate the two-year anniversary of Nolan’s most mind-bending film and the unexpectedly large fandom it has spawned.
Although the film is one of the most profitable in history, its status as a standalone movie with no tie-ins makes it a fandom anomaly. Most films that spawn successful, ongoing fandoms are long-lasting series or franchises. On Fanfiction.net, Inception is the only standalone entity in the top 12 film fandoms (Labyrinth and Newsies, 20-year old cult hits, boast other sequels and adaptations). On social bookmarking sites Pinboard and Delicious, the “Inception” tag has been used in over 56,000 links and a thousand pages, respectively, most of them fanfiction. On Tumblr, the Inception tag gets updated roughly every five minutes, and even the Cobbsquint meme is still making the rounds.
Inception is one of those fandoms that’s taken everyone by surprise with its longevity. So it’s no surprise that when the time came to celebrate the film’s anniversary, fans did it in style with a community dedicated to the cause: Inceptiversary, a month-long celebration featuring fanfiction challenges, Tumblr posts, movie rewatches, even a scavenger hunt.
Lezzerlee, creator of the community, told the Daily Dot that “what makes [Inception fandom] unique is that for two years the Inception community has thrived with a constant influx of fiction, art, media, podfic, and online gatherings, despite the source material being a closed canon. In my opinion, Inception is such an active fandom because of the open-ended details…[fans] have almost no limitations on creating original histories or developing the film’s universe.”
Though she has a valid point, at least part of the primary inspiration for the film’s ongoing fanbase is the subtext between minor characters Arthur and Eames. This, again, is an anomaly for a fandom with one major pairing: not only is Arthur/Eames not a canonical pairing—meaning it’s not seen in the film itself— but the duo, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy, has less than five minutes of screentime together overall. That hasn’t stopped fans from turning out thousands of fics for the pairing—over 3,000 on the AO3 alone.
It’s a creative impulse Lezzerlee put to good use. “Inceptiversary came to fruition because of the enthusiasm of the fans, who organized an email group to dream up ideas and activities for the fandom to participate in. After two years, we were all still excited to participate and create.”
Lezzerlee pointed out that in addition to the Inception birthday community, fanfic hubs like the Inception Big Bang, Reverse Bang, and the Inception kink meme are still going strong.
“It only illustrates how enthusiastic Inception fandom still is after all this time. That is something very special.”
Photos by Sickletongue/ Livejournal and 金橘儿/Pixiv.net
Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.