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Reboot Rage

I’m not happy about it either, Bruce.

When reading the IMDb’s, my eye was immediately drawn to this horribly disheartening headline: “Warners Rebooting Batman Again?” (The article in question, via Empire Online, can be read here). The basic gist of the article is that when Christopher Nolan is finished with The Dark Knight Rises, which is due for release in 2012, Warner Bros. plans to reboot the franchise for a possible relaunch in 2013. Upon reading this, I decided to slam my head repeatedly onto the desk until I swore I could hear colors.  (In case you were wondering, turquoise is particularly melodic) Hopefully, most of you have the same reaction to this news, because this, my friends, is an outrage.  Hollywood has gone reboot mad, and it needs to be stopped.

Anytime now, guys.

It has of late become the policy of the bigwigs in Hollywood to “reboot” anything that has ever made money.  This effectively restarts the story of the franchise and they can build their own continuity and whatnot from there.  Sometimes this can be a good thing. It worked well in 2006 with the release of Casino Royale, one of the best Bond movies, and a story that hadn’t been told within the “official” MGM releases. It reintroduced James Bond as he obtains his Double-O status and follows, quite closely, the plot of Ian Fleming’s first spy novel.  CR works because the previous Bond movie, Die Another Day (2002), was so ridiculous and over-the-top and wrought with clichés that even the most fervent Bond fan (i.e., ME) had lost respect for it.  Now, the Bond franchise has been dormant for a few years, due to the implosion of MGM, and if and when they decide to make a new one, even if Daniel Craig does not star, it should certainly not be a rehash of Casino Royale.

The only other time I can remember this working is when, after eight years, they rebooted the Batman franchise, going from the campy Joel Schumacher world to the realistic Christopher Nolan one. In both cases, time had passed and the public had grown tired of the stories that were being told.  Also, in both cases, the “reboot” resulted in a movie that hadn’t been made yet.  With the exception of the 1960s spoof, Casino Royale and James Bond’s first mission had not been made into a film, and we’d never seen what was essentially Batman: Year One on the big screen.  This point, I think, is integral to the success of reboots, if they must be done at all.  Now, three huge comic book commodities are being rebooted, all but remaking films that are less than ten years old.

He couldn’t possibly be any whinier than Tobey Maguire.

Spider-Man 3 was shit, completely and utterly; Sony was content to make a fourth film, but couldn’t agree with writer-director Sam Raimi about anything.  So, instead of just getting a new creative team to make another Spider-Man, they decided it was necessary to do the first film over again, retelling the origin but in a new “film continuity.”  This phrase has become the bane of my existence.  Nobody can just make a movie using popular characters; everything must have its own continuity, which is apparently particular to that director.  The original string of James Bond films simply continued and changed organically over the years, despite changes in lead actor and director several times.  People know who James Bond is; they don’t need to be continually reminded every time the face changes. As for Spider-Man, I don’t need to see him get bitten by the radioactive spider again, especially not when the Raimi/Maguire version is so fresh and so clean-clean in my mind.

It has also recently been announced that they’re rebooting the Superman series helmed by Zack “Slow-Motion-is-Why-I-Exist” Snyder.  Superman is another character that everyone knows. You ask any kid who Superman is and you’ll get very near the complete history of the character from Krypton to Metropolis.  Granted, Snyder will need to distance his film from Bryan Singer’s think-piece of a superhero movie, Superman Returns, but it’s an unnecessary redundancy to include the basics.  There’s also been a goddamn TV show on the air for ten years talking all about the young alien’s formative years.  The subject has really been done to death.

This brings me to the new, weep-inducing announcement involving my beloved Batman.  It was announced back after 2008’s The Dark Knight was such a global phenomenon that Christopher Nolan only wanted to do one more film, rounding out his trilogy and putting his take on the iconic superhero to bed. Great, fine.  The Dark Knight Rises hasn’t even finished being filmed and already Warner Brothers’ exec Jeff Robinov says, “We have the third film, but then we’ll have to reinvent Batman.”  Why!?!?!?! The public knows who Batman is, they’ve just seen two (and will soon see a third) films about the character, and, while Nolan’s series takes place in a “realistic” world, we don’t need to see it all from the beginning again just to establish a new “film continuity.” Start in the middle somewhere. I know it’s difficult for studio executives to believe, but people are smart enough to figure out what’s going on without seeing the beginning every time it looks slightly different.  These are indelible characters who at this point are part of the cultural lexicon; there doesn’t need to be another beginning.

One reason mentioned in Empire’s article is that WB wants to make a Justice League movie, and Bale’s Batman wouldn’t fit in that world. Okay, that’s a good point, he doesn’t, but that doesn’t necessarily precipitate a need for a refresher course on the character’s origins.  I know Warner and DC are trying to capitalize on Marvel’s growing Avengers property, and the main heroes are getting their own origin movie before the team-up flick comes out, but no one knew any of those characters from films prior to the first Iron Man. There doesn’t need to be a young Batman and a young Superman just because all the other characters are young.

For anyone who cares, and I know no one does, here is how I would do Justice League: You have origin movies for Green Lantern (done, out this summer), The Flash, and Wonder Woman which would establish their ethos and backstory, then the actual Justice League film would include the three of them, introduce Martian Manhunter and Green Arrow (and possibly Aquaman… if you wanted), and have older Batman and Superman appear without much mention of their pasts, representing the elder heroes.  Superman could try to recruit the other heroes and the last to join would be Batman because, well, he’s a standoffish dick a lot of the time.  This way, you begin and end the “teaming up” portion with the most well-known of the bunch and leave the bulk of the action to the newbs.  It doesn’t impugn the new characters, nor does it re-hash older characters, unnecessarily bogging down the film.  There; If anybody at WB reads this and likes the idea, I can have a script written in a month.

For fuck’s sake, Hollywood, show some backbone and for once don’t simply rely on retelling already well-tread stories for the sake of the audience you apparently don’t know well at all.  In this age of Netflix, Amazon, and, frankly, movie piracy, the target audience for superhero films is incredibly cine-aware, if not fully cine-literate.  They’ve probably seen all the other films ever made featuring X character and could probably tell the studio more than they ever wanted to know about the history of the franchise.  But, as always, the bottom line is the almighty dollar. I’m sure the studios would remake the same movie every year for ten years if they thought it’d make them some cash. This announcement means that The Dark Knight Rises will be coming out to DVD and Blu-Ray around the time the reboot will hit theaters. Hardly any time to let the thing sink in, is it?  Superhero movies will make money, and retelling an origin is a quick and easy way to make a boatload of cash, even if it means shoveling dirt on something that hasn’t even gone ripe yet.

Images: Warner Bros., Sony, DC Comics

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  1. thatgeekj0hn says:

    reboots prove one thing, hollywood has run out of fucking ideas and thats the end of it. And as long as the idiots line up in droves to see which worthless a list actor is playing the lead character it will continue. Oddly the best and most original ideas come from B movies, the stories are always interesting but most of the movies suck because no big studio wants to take a chance…..Fuck off hollyowod!

  2. Tim says:

    To me a reboot of a franchise shouldn’t be done so quick, I mean rebooting Batman right after the third in a great trilogy is pout is ridiculous, same with Spiderman, I mean the origin wasn’t done that long ago and it would have been fine to not include it in the new one.
    As said before, as long as they’re making money they’ll keep rebooting these movies.

  3. On the one hand, I understand the annoyance at trying to reboot things that are still so fresh.

    On the other hand, the article largely talks about superhero comic book adaptations. And if anything is far, far worse than movies for starting new alternate continuities, it’s superhero comic books.

  4. johnny says:

    @emily i also loved under the red hood but it was kinda similar to the dark knight i would enjoy if they made batman beyond. another great example of rebooting that is stupid is teenwolf mtv has made it into a show that is a complete rip off of twilight

  5. Double R says:

    I have seen Hulk and Batman and Robin mentioned in this conversation. Does anyone wish to discuss how they decided to move away from Tim Burton’s vision of Batman after Batman returns (and Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne)? This move I believe it what started the need for ‘reboots’ to begin with. After Val Kilmer, they decided that the Batman was interchangable. PLUS—and I believe this is what ruined Batman and Robin—Schwarzenneger got top billing as Mr. Freeze. This was not the same as Nicholson getting billed over Keaton; at least Keaton could keep up with Jack, IMO. But Ahnold gets top billing and doesn’t die, and neither does Uma ‘Poison Ivy’ Thurman.

    I secretly believe the reason companies wish to ‘reboot’ a series is because they run out of strong villains. I believe this also runied Batman and Robin as well. Would you have wished to sit through another go-round with Spiderman if they had the strongest script possible with a villain like The Vulture? (If this suggestion is incorrect concerning the aborted SM4, please comment.)

    As for the Hulk, they have tried twice and failed to gain traction with a Hulk franchise. Can any of you offer a reason as to why they fail? What should be corrected concerning that character if a studio should believe a third time is the charm?

    And now I would like to mention The Punisher, who has had three movies made, one with Dolph Lundgren, Thomas Jane, Ray Stevenson. There is another remake in the works scheduled for 2014 . (Fuckin’ IMDBPro!) If anyone here knows how to prevent this one from failing as well, please let the producers know.

  6. Ryan says:

    Batman Beyond = Fuck Yeah.

  7. Rob Walker says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Robin Burks. Hollywood is a business and loves a sure thing. As long as they can get away with unnecessary reboots, they’ll keep it up. We have the “Hulk Reboot Experiment” to thank for this. Five years between films?!

  8. Chips O'Toole says:

    Sure, it’s easy. But it also shows that no one wants to mine stories for anything deeper. I’m not a comic reader, so I’m not advocating “let’s so that story from issue x where batman does…” or anything, but that to most people, all they know of Batman, Superman, Spiderman, etc is the origin. “Sure, came from krypton, has super powers, fights crime, Lex Luthor, etc, but then what?” So as far as the creative depth, there isn’t any, and of course, that’s what they’re playing to. And every director has his dream Superman or Batman, told the way THEY wanted to retell it. “I always pictured the joker as a comical character, let’s run with that!”

    Mostly, it’s because screenwriters seem to not be able to create stories beyond the source material, or even the origin of the source material. Quantum of Solace was a mess, because they didn’t have anything to fall back on. i remember reading a thing from a producer or writer of that saying, “If anyone has a good idea what Quantum (the organization) actually is, let us know, we don’t yet.” And that was when the movie premiered!

    But with comics, you have this wealth of pre-written material – sure, they reboot batman constantly, but there are still a lot of issues after the origin.

    Or, can someone who reads them help me out, are they all just shit?

  9. Robin Burks says:

    Let’s face it. Hollywood is lazy. Why come up with an original and creative idea and hope it makes money when you take something that has already made money and “reboot” it? The only way they’ll ever take a hint is if we stop seeing these films.

    I’m still wondering why we need yet another Spiderman origins story when we just had one not long ago. And Batman? Seriously… anyone who wants to try to follow Nolan’s brilliance and success of that? Good luck.

  10. Craig says:

    I think one of the major motivations for doing another reboot is likely how awkward it would be to bring back the Joker – one of the most iconic villains in the Batman universe and even in the “history” of superheroes and villains – in the current continuity.

  11. Jon says:

    other completely obnoxious and too-soon reboot I haven’t seen mentioned: the Hulk. It was only a couple years between films, and both sucked really bad. I realize that the studios think they have this hot property and really don’t want to see it go to waste, but if two hulk films have flopped already, just give it up and TRY SOMETHING ORIGINAL for once…

  12. Grim Santo says:

    I don’t mind really, it’s Christopher Nolan story to tell. Would you really want somebody to mess with that?
    Also Isn’t it the same as having a comic book limited run.

  13. Hurricane Ditka says:

    I almost forgot!

    Nerdiest complaint I think I have ever made:

    Transformers Reboot;

    Optimus prime was a Mac Cab-over truck in the original cartoon

    Now he’s a frickin Peterbuilt with a sleeper cab! WTF!!!!

  14. Hurricane Ditka says:

    I drooled over the new Batman movies, and am still waiting for the final in the trilogy. (Honestly, the Dark Knight, should have been at least two separate movies.) And for saying it was “too much reality”. I say you are wrong my good sir. Do you remember what it was like suffering through “Batman Forever” or “Batman and Robin”? Oh! Oh! Oh! THE PAIN!!!! Also; since the Justice League movie is more then likely going to be over-the-top with super powers and what-not, why do they need to reboot Batman? Can’t they just come up with some bogus story how his world somehow became the Justice League World? Like a split dimension? At least that way they can keep making a version of the Nolan Batman.

    Again, as the author of this post stated, why do they need to re-tell the story of these main characters again? If you don’t know where Batman or Superman are from you shouldn’t be concerned with the back story anyways, because your obviously not into sci-fi or super hero movies. Just wait for something to blow up and clap, laugh at the funny/snarky comments one of the hero’s make, leave the theater, and go on with your life like you do with every other movie. Its the people who read the comic books that are going to post online about the movie, and discuss the hits and misses of the movie for days/weeks/years to come.

  15. It seemed like all the remakes started right after Batman Begins was released. I don’t think they should remake batman but i would like to see them continue the story. The one thing I like about the remakes is that there is a higher quality of content that they are putting out. They start with a great story and a great cast and put the money into the projects to make it the best it can be.

  16. Lee says:

    On a lighter note (or to fan the flames further):


    Do it. Guillermo Del Toro for the aliens and shit. Peter Jackson for the visuals and shit.

    And someone get Christopher Nolan to direct Cowboy Bebop.

  17. Eddie says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself

  18. Lee says:

    This is one of those times it just fucking BLOWS to be a nerd.

    The people who make what we love don’t care what we think as long as people will consume what they make.

    The people who consume what we love couldn’t care less what we think as long as there’s hot chicks and explosions.

    Unfortunately, the real problem is that after having spent the last 11 years releasing only 6 superhero franchise films and making a moderate amount of money (regardless of whether or not they’ve changed the face of comic-films and established a new type of credibility for the genre which is exactly what makes this flood of franchise flicks possible at all), DC has noticed that Marvel has dropped 18 steaming turds in the same time and raked money in hand-over-fist.

    I really hate to be the guy to say it but, until another Christopher Nolan comes along to show some respect for the material he’s working with AND the audience he’s shaping it for or the general public just tires of capes and powers, we’re just going to have to weather the shitstorm of awful superhero films.

  19. Sean says:

    We also have sci-fi reboots.

    There have been talks about Star Gate sequel based on the the movie not the series. Any popularity Star Gate has is from the series not the the movie. Then there talks about a Battlestar Galactica movie which has nothing to do with the popular critical acclaimed series which was in itself was reboot. Proposed Buffy reboot without Joss Whedon . . . Fail

    I hated the Star Trek Reboot. J. J. Abrams is a lucky man to have amazing actors portraying pre-established roles that where already created for him. Literally these characters had to carry the weight of this unbelievably flawed film on their shoulders up an hill of expectation covered in broken glass.

    I think It should be noted that one of the most successful re-launches was Doctor Who and it didn’t need a reboot just a few tweaks.

  20. I don’t know about “reboot,” necessarily because there have been enough of these movies that we don’t need another origin story. But make a new set of Bat-flicks, with only the faintest regard for Nolan’s run? Yes, please. At the end of the day, while Nolan did a lot of stuff very right, he mired Batman in too much reality. You almost don’t need any suspension of disbelief, and when it comes to a comic book film, if you don’t need at least a dollop of SoD, then you’ve missed the mark. Not totally, but it’s not quite what it can be yet.

  21. Evan says:

    I’m not a fan of all the reboots, remakes, and re-imaginings, but it was my understanding that the reinvention of Batman that they are talking about was solely for his role in the JLA movie, and not for a continued solo franchise. I can understand the need in this case, but they probably should have handled it more tactfully in the announcement. And, actually, I really like your pitch for a JLA movie. Whom do we contact to make that happen?

  22. Artie says:

    I’ll buy an opening night ticket to your described JL, but only if they cast Craig Ferguson as Aquaman.

  23. emily says:

    Personally, I wish they’d focus less on rebooting live-action series and do some true theatrical releases of the AMAZING cartoon features they’ve made. Batman: Under the Red Hood was excellent. It’d be amazing to see that on a big screen.

  24. Pat T says:

    Am I the only one that would enjoy the shit out of a live action adaptation of the Batman Beyond series? I think it’d work really well for any post-Dark Knight Rises film (and would not be a reboot at all).

  25. Bo Dixen Pedersen says:

    Vote with your wallets.

    If you don’t wan’t to see reboots and sequels and already established franchises on the moviescreen constantly then don’t go see those movies.

    As long as they’re succesful, they’ll make more and more and more.

  26. MAXimiliano says:

    I’m really hoping that Christopher Nolan keeps a close eye on Superman. I was really happy when I read he was involved with the movie but saddened when I hear they choose Snyder as director. I was excited by the idea of Duncan Jones directing before Zack was chosen. My hopes lie with Jonathan Nolan’s script.

  27. Dyler Crews says:

    Although you raise some excellent points in this, for lack of a better word, rant I have to disagree with the crux of your argument. As a life long comic book fan I agree 100% that the Nolan Batman movies do represent the apotheosis of superhero cinema, but a majority of superhero films miss the mark so completely that reboots are not only necessary but pivotal to a character’s continued survival as a cornerstone of pop-culture. Take the original Superman films for example. Let’s forget about how wonder Christopher Reeves was, and how classic those films are and remember how horribly they portray Superman as a character. In all of the early Superman flicks he’s pretty much a glorified contractor. Rebuilding dams, fixing rail lines, etc. He rarely engaged in combat like his comic book predecessor. Consequently this unsightly stain carried over into Bryan Singer’s turd burger known as Superman Returns. What I mean by all this is that we finally have the technology to create faithful comic book adaptations, and (with the mainstream success of Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and Sin City) an audience that’s receptive to that faithfulness on a narrative level as well. Despite how “fresh” they may be, wouldn’t it be enjoyable to see a Spider-Man movie with organic web shooters, Gwen Stacy, and a Green Goblin that didn’t look like a Power ranger’s villain? Ya know, like the comic book? If they didn’t reboot the Spider-man franchise after Spider-Man 3 then the movies would’ve become more and more ridiculous, simply because they inhabited the same universe as “Emo tap dancing action Peter Parker”. And unfortunately as comic fans we are the minority when it comes to box office bank-ability.The studios could give a Sh!t if we’re satisfied as long as Spider-Man, or in this case Batman, is accessible for the non-comic reading audience. Most non comic fans take the movie’s origin as the gospel for the character. As a result when reboots to update the special effects are made (like Superman Returns) 20 years later the directors, who rarely read the source material, base it on the awful movies of yesteryear. The fact that superhero movies have been as faithful as they have been is a continual shock to me. Most of the origin movies for superhero movies were made in comic book movie boom of the early 2000’s. As a result they were subject to tons of errors in characterization, casting, and execution(I.e Rouge not having any of Ms. Marvel’s abilities, Sandman murdering Uncle Ben, and ,even more recently, Galactus being a cloud). Hollywood has since learned to streamline to the process while pacifying fan-boys and John Q public alike. Why argue with a movie that will be closer to the source material?

  28. Joe E says:

    The rebooting of Spider-man was unnecessary but I really like everyone that is involved with it and it will most likely be pretty good. So while gratuitous remakes are a bad trend I don’t think it is all that bad if they can get good people to work on them.

  29. Sawyer says:

    The perfect embodiment of this is the transfer of the Superman franchise from Singer to Snyder. Singer made a damn good flick about a God trying to find his place among mortals, and Snyder’s going to slo-mo it up and dumb it down. With the exception of Watchmen (which, let’s face it, all he had to really do there was stay faithful to the source) everything he’s done has been vapid, and I don’t expect the Superman movie (franchise?) to be any different, no matter how good the cast is (which, admittedly, it is pretty good so far) and no matter how much Nolan gets involved.
    But then again, I’m actually quite interested in seeing what Webb, Garfield, Stone et al. do with the Spiderman franchise, so maybe I’m a hypocrite. But then again, I’d be just as interested if they chose to pick up from where the third movie left off, just with a new cast and crew (like the way Kilmer and Schumacher picked up from Keaton and Burton, or the Bond ones, like you mentioned) so the whole “reboot” thing just baffles and infuriates me.

  30. Chad H says:

    I don’t mind comic reboots as much as remakes, comic books “reboot” themselves all the time. I do wish they would give some time between reboots though.

  31. Adel says:

    Rebooting Spiderman is already a stupid idea even with Spiderman 3 being really bad. But in the case of Batman, rebooting a successful franchise nearly 1 year after the last installment is just criminal. We can only hope for the best, the worst can offer.