“What’s that? The 1995 Sylvester Stallone action vehicle Judge Dredd was a colossal failure? No big deal. Reboot it.” That seems to be the logic driving Hollywood these days, and though many may gripe that movies have no originality anymore and all studios do is reboot old movies, the strategy is actually paying off. Reboots are big money.
The annual Comic-Con convention is underway in San Diego, and rumors of reboot abound. According to the Wall Street Journal, 2003’s Daredevil is under the knife for a reboot, and 20th Century Fox is already holding the script. Marvel’s Fantastic Four did well enough to spawn a 2007 sequel, but studio execs weren’t terribly thrilled with that adaptation either. A reboot of that is in the works.
But hey, it works! According to Market Watch Radio, no matter who hems and haws at reboot announcements, they usually find their way into a theater seat and make that movie a huge box office success. Batman property has been re-imagined at least three times, a Superman reboot is in production (under the tutelage of Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder), and the newest Spiderman venture did really well (haters notwithstanding).
Studio heads push reboots with little-to-no regard for the originals films, sometimes causing ire among many a fanboy. “I feel like a little bit of my childhood is being robbed, because they remake them and mess them up,” said Timothy Potts, a Comic-Con attendee who was dressed in full costume as the Rinzler character from “Tron.”
One of the biggest challenges that studios face with rebooting properties, especially with superhero films, is that no one really knows what people like about superhero flicks in the first place. Christopher Nolan’s gritty and realistic Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are arguably the strongest cases in the column “for” reboots, having out-grossed their predecessor films and peer properties. The conclusion to his series, The Dark Knight Rises, is expected to be one of 2012’s highest grossing films. Yet Daredevil was dark. Sure, it suffered from a lame plot, lame script, Ben Affleck, etc., but why what made it a worse film? Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man is a darker take on the hero, but it fared about the same as Sam Raimi’s slightly campy Spiderman trilogy (itself a high grosser as well). So what makes a reboot work?
Maybe it’s okay to have a new Total Recall, a new Planet of the Apes, a new Karate Kid. New takes on classic tales for a new generation reflecting the current culture. Maybe it’s okay if reboots are better than their predecessors. Liked Tron? Great, take your kids to see Tron: Legacy and share some human experience, for crying out loud! The Incredible Hulk was better than Ang Lee’s Hulk, and Mark Ruffalo’s turn as the not-so-jolly green giant was better than both. I remember people saying that no one could ever top Jack Nicholson’s performance as the Joker, and made fun of that dude from Brokeback Mountain and how awful his Joker costume was.
Now it’s “Jack-who?” and for a reason.
The greatest fallacy of the “reboot-anxiety” is that people seem to think that they have to surrender their love of the old film when a new one is announced. Keep on loving the classic, but see what the new kids do. Sure, sometimes they screw it up, but sometimes they pay respectful and nostalgic homage to their predecessors (Star Trek anyone?) The real question isn’t “why would they screw up the old one by making a reboot?”
It’s “Is it okay if I like the classic and the new one?”
I let out a long sigh whenever reboot rumors hit the web too. But I still went and saw The Amazing Spider-Man. And I loved it. As much as the Raimi ones. No more, no less.