There's this old adage that legends never die. This is great and all, when the legend has a solid conclusion and there's no sequels but not so much when the story keeps going. It could be said that Marcus Fenix is the heart and soul of Gears of War, so much so that even in the spin-off title they managed to give him a little cameo. But what happens when the story keeps going after the legend? What happens to the legend?
That's the great things about stories, they end. You can wrap a little bow around the narrative and it never changes, you just assume the best. Nobody has to worry about the mountain of paperwork, or the pissed off relatives of those you killed, or the crushing alcoholism that results from PTSD. Unlike real life, stories end... and we don't have to worry about the mess that's left behind.
Gears of War 4 is set 25 years after Gears of War 3, the original protagonist has had a son and this son, JD Fenix, is now the protagonist of the new series. The only problem is that despite it being 25 years later, and him being a venerable 63 years old, Marcus is still in the spotlight.
For a good portion of the game, you've got Marcus travelling with you as you explore the changed world of Sera. The Locust, the old enemy that Marcus is so familiar with, may be gone but their mutated descendants are emerging from the shadows. It's the new generations continuing the war that their ancestors never truly finished. But with his daddy by his side, it's like JD, and Gears of War 4, have still got their training wheels on. They're both too scared to let go of their predecessors to strike out on their own.
There's this moment in Gears of War 4 where Marcus gets taken, and you find him later on in the game encased in this gooey mutant pod. You think he's dead, but it turns out he's actually alive. It was a shitty fake out.
While I do think they should have killed him off, I'm glad they didn't give him such a lame death as being suffocated or dissolved in a pod. Gears of War is about epic battles between heroes and monsters. When Marcus goes out it needs to be with the kind of bang the world of Sera will never forget.
Marcus Fenix needs to die, for both JD and the new Gears of War trilogy to find their feet. They're certainly big shoes to fill, but he has to leave before his son, or anyone, can take his place. If the new trilogy wants to be taken as seriously, and be as well received, as the first then it has to move on from the past and establish some independence.
It was cool seeing most of Delta Squad appear in Gears of War 4, but the time for fan service has come and gone. JD and his friends need to leave the veterans behind and step into the darkness on their own, because that's where the real story hides.