The current philosophy when it comes to comic book movies seems to be: at the slightest sign of trouble, reboot. Superman Returns racked up "only" $391 million at the box office? Reboot. Spider-Man 3 had terrible dance scenes? Reboot. Joel Schumacher gave Batman nipples? Oh God, reboot that shit, then reboot it again just to wash out the bad taste.
However -- and this may come as a shock to you, because I am a comic book nerd on the Internet, and we never like to tell the giant corporations how to do their jobs -- I think they've got it all wrong. I think one or two crappy movies don't justify burning the entire franchise to the ground, flushing its ashes down the toilet, and then dynamiting that toilet to start over again. Not when they could have used those same crappy movies as a springboard to reinvent the franchise into something better. In fact, all the filmmakers had to do was look at the damn comics they were supposed to be adapting to find material for awesome (but by now completely improbable) sequels like ...
#4. Green Lantern 2: Emerald Twilight
The Disappointing Movie:
Green Lantern, because you've probably forgotten it already, is that 2011 movie where Ryan Reynolds puts on green body paint like he's going to a Brazilian carnival and gains the power to shoot CGI jizz at CGI monsters while CGI aliens CGI CGI CGI.
Reynolds recorded this entire scene from the toilet. Guess how they did the machine gun sounds.
The Awesome Sequel:
Emerald Twilight was a DC Comics storyline from 1994 where Green Lantern goes crazy and murders all his friends.
We all did something embarrassing in the '90s: mullets, popper pants, genocide, etc.
Obviously, some people didn't like it. Comics fans get upset when you put pants on a superheroine; turn their favorite superhero into Space Hitler and they'll lose their shit. Every time you do a story where a beloved character with 30 years of classic stories changes his good/evil affiliation, it's gonna ruffle some feathers. But here's the thing: The Ryan Reynolds version of Green Lantern isn't a beloved character. He doesn't have 30 years of classic stories. He has one so-so movie. That's the perfect setup for a sequel that subverts superhero tropes in ways movies haven't done yet. We've never seen an established superhero with one movie already under his belt turn bad. And no, X-Men 3 doesn't count, because A) the movie's name isn't Jean Grey and B) fuck you for bringing up X-Men 3.
So here's the pitch: The sequel takes place a few years after Green Lantern. Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is the universally loved and appreciated champion of the city that he saved from a giant monster in the first movie, kinda like Ghostbusters 2, but in reverse. But then the city gets attacked by another monster ... and Jordan fails. The city is wiped out. His girlfriend, his family, his precious bathroom cabinet equipped with all manner of hair products -- all gone.
All that's left from the entire city are two guys, a girl, and a pizza place.
That's when Jordan goes "Wait a minute, I have a magic ring that can do anything! I can bring the city back!" In his grief he tries to do that, but his bosses, the Guardians of the Universe, tell him that it is forbidden. Jordan replies "YOUR FACE is forbidden" (this line is non-negotiable) and murders the Guardians, absorbing all their power and thus the power of every Green Lantern in the galaxy. One of the Guardians manages to escape and gives the last Green Lantern ring to a new guy: John Stewart, or the Green Lantern you actually remember from the Justice League cartoon. You know, the guy so popular that when the Green Lantern movie came out, people wondered why Ryan Reynolds was playing a black guy.
The rest of the movie is about the new Green Lantern going up against the power-crazy cracker who wants to destroy the universe and remake it again to save his precious hair products cabinet -- yes, the very concept of reboots is the bad guy in this movie. Oh, and put Idris Elba as John Stewart while you're at it. Tell me you wouldn't watch that.
#3. Daredevil 2: Born Again
20th Century Fox
The Disappointing Movie:
Daredevil (2003) hovers awkwardly between the superhero movies that actually have something to say and the ones that are lots of fun, and as a result it's neither of those things. Today, it's mostly remembered for being the embarrassing story of how Ben Affleck met his wife.
20th Century Fox
They tell most people they met doing leather fetishism, which is technically correct.
The Awesome Sequel:
The movie ends with the bad guy, the Kingpin, finding out that Daredevil is actually blind lawyer Matt Murdock, but then Matt goes "What are you gonna do, admit you got beat up by a blind man?" Well, yeah. Yes, the Kingpin could absolutely do that, and then the sequel would be based on Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's "Daredevil: Born Again" story from 1986, which starts with the character's entire life going to hell when his identity is exposed and just gets more hardcore from there.
Daredevil yelled at them for like five minutes before realizing everyone was asleep.
I was surprised to learn that, for years, Daredevil's director wanted to do a sequel based on this comic, but it makes a lot of sense: The first movie established the hero's world, and the second one blows it all to shit. The Kingpin uses his connections to methodically tear Matt Murdock's life apart -- he destroys his reputation by getting him disbarred, his finances by freezing all his assets, and his home by literally destroying his home, with explosions. Matt ends up wandering the streets of New York, alone, destitute, and paranoid. Don't think Batman. Think Taxi Driver.
Frank Miller put himself in the shoes of a crazy person to write this dialogue, then never took them off.
Eventually it dawns on the Kingpin that by taking everything away from Matt Murdock he only made the guy more dangerous, because what could you possibly do to him now? The tables turn as the Kingpin becomes the paranoid one, since he never knows when his enemy will strike. And with that, this story achieves the impossible: turning Daredevil into an actual badass. Could Ben Affleck pull that off? Probably not, but you'd have to recast the characters anyway, since Michael Clarke Duncan sadly passed away and Affleck is too busy not playing superheroes ever again (his first day on the set as Batman is gonna be awkward).
Another reason why a sequel would rock? Bullseye, who coincidentally was one of the reasons why the original sucked. The first movie left that guy (an assassin for the Kingpin played by Colin Farrell) in a hospital bed, which gives us the perfect opportunity to incorporate one of the most batshit insane Daredevil comics Miller ever wrote: The one where our hero plays a game of Russian roulette with a paralyzed Bullseye, who spends the entire issue just continually shitting his pants. That scene would fit beautifully into the "Daredevil turns into a crazy homeless person" sequence. I do hope they would get the same actor for that, because seeing Colin Farrell shit himself is actually on my bucket list.