There’s an aspect of many fandoms that is frequently skirted over when people discuss fans and fandoms. Namely, that many fandoms, certainly the larger ones, are based around corporate-owned intellectual properties. The Avengers, Star Wars, My Little Pony are all owned and run by businesses with profits in mind. Even IPs that remain closely linked to the originator, like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, support and are run by a good number of corporate interests. Yet, seemingly the only time this is really addressed in any capacity is when someone points out the irony of giving Warner Brothers money for a Guy Fawkes mask like the ones seen in V for Vendetta.

There’s, of course, nothing inherently wrong with being a fan of something owned by a company and not an individual. If you enjoy and appreciate a creative work, regardless of its origins, there’s nothing that should stop you from enjoying and appreciating it to its fullest. In fact, many people who make their living today in those corporate environments started as fans of the original concept when it was worked on by a single individual. I’ve heard more than one creator note that they were merely the custodian of someone else’s work, and they only hoped to do as good as job as their predecessor.

Corporations often understand, too, that if they stray too far afield from what attracted people to the property in the first place, they will see that fanbase deteriorate. And even if they don’t care about the fans per se, they do at least care about the money they bring to the table, so it’s usually in the company’s best interests to do the best job they can creatively.

But the dilemma comes in when/if fans start trying to take emotional ownership of the property. If they feel the people in charge are directing things that run against what they loved initially, and take things personally when that changes.

As a rule, though, even creators being steered by large corporations don’t generally change things around specifically to grate another person. They make changes based on trying to appeal to a broad audience, and to satisfy their own creative urges. Superman couldn’t fly in his original incarnation, for example; that came about because it was easier for Fleischer Studios to animate Superman flying than having him jump over tall buildings repeatedly. There was no agenda against people who liked Superman the way he was.

And the point that fans seem to fail to realize is that they don’t have to be fans of every iteration of property to still be fans of it. You can like Sean Connery as James Bond, and think every actor after him stunk; or you can think they never should have made movies out of the novels in the first place! The beauty of fandom is that you don’t have to like each and every part of it. Sure, it can be frustrating to see your favorite characters being portrayed in ways that don’t appeal to you, or that don’t make sense given how you understand them, but you can just stick with the parts that do make your inner self squee and leave the rest by the side of the road. No one has a right to claim you’re not a fan just because you didn’t buy into every aspect of the marketing machine a company put behind their property.