5 Beloved Icons That Need a Gritty Reboot

Today's audiences want movies that show us the grim reality of modern life. Hollywood has moved away from yesterday's naive, unrealistic feel-good crap and toward movies that more accurately reflect our bleak, post-9/11 world. A quick review of these accurate reflections indicates that most of our families are constantly being murdered, our past is full of unspeakable sins we constantly brood over, and we sell our bodies on the street at the drop of a hat. Clearly, according to gritty movies, these are the everyday realities of the average American. After all, who among us hasn't been murdered? Who hasn't had our families killed in front of our eyes at least once? How many of you can honestly say you haven't dabbled in drug-addicted prostitution?

We're talking to you, Chad.

But despite the obvious superiority of gritty reboots, many old shows and movies are still lying around uselessly in stupid non-darkness, waiting for Hollywood to sprinkle them with some harsh, family-killing reality. So we've created some guidelines for any Hollywood producers reading Cracked about how to reboot these classics at their most grittiest.

#5. Make Sure You Use A Washed-Out Palette

Not only the plot, but also the visuals need to get the point across that this is a bleak, joyless world with no easy answers and no happy endings, which is equivalent to no distinguishable colors. In a world where you can't tell an enemy from a friend, it just seems logical you wouldn't be able to tell green from red.

For example, Man of Steel showcased a Superman so conflicted he couldn't even remember what colors Superman wears.

"I know one of them is red. The other one is ... grey?"

Reboot Suggestion: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

We're assuming the upcoming Power Rangers reboot has a new, gritty plot well in hand, and so all we're going to suggest is that they make the palette as bleak and hopeless as the new world the Rangers will face. If you're unfamiliar with the Power Rangers story, it involves 6 high-school-age teenagers who are called upon to fight evil as the Red, Blue, Pink, Yellow, Green, and Black Rangers (shown in order below):

The Black Ranger is black and the Yellow Ranger is Asian. I'm not making this part up.

Now that I'm looking at it, I can see how this might present a problem for keeping track of dialogue, but that just plays into the realism of the confused and conflicted world we live in. Who is wrong? Who is right? Which Ranger is talking right now? Didn't that guy get captured earlier? It's full of questions we can't answer, just like your NSAs and your Fergusons.

Other than the palette, the only other change to the story we would suggest is that they are now the Mighty Morphine Power Rangers, because these high school students now all have crippling opiate addictions. Also, the Pink Ranger is a sexy, empowered stripper (it is a very open high school).

#4. Add Gratuitous Moral Ambiguity and Inexplicable Angst

Yesterday's heroes and protagonists were morally upright. Even if they started out with some problems or weaknesses (Han Solo was a charming but irresponsible rogue), by the end of the movie they'd learned to be a better, braver person (Han Solo chooses the path of selflessness when he returns to save Luke). This inspired viewers to think that if we ever faced similar adversity, we'd always try our best to do the noble thing as well.

But who wants to watch that crap? Today's audiences are tired of the upright heroes of the past. Instead, we want our protagonists to have moral ambiguity, again and again and again, in exactly the same way.

Reboot Suggestion: Captain Planet

If you grew up in or around the '90s, you'll remember that Captain Planet was a superhero who fought pollution with the help of a gang of perky, multiracial Planeteers.

I don't remember that much about the show, but I guess there was an episode where the Planeteers used the Earth as a treadmill.

Guys, come on, that is hella boring. The reboot should make the female Russian Planeteer a stripper who murders oil barons who come to her strip clubs. The African Planeteer should now use his power of Earth to bury people alive when they're unethically mining coltan or conflict diamonds. That kind of thing.

And our green-mulleted leader? Make Captain Planet into an internally-tortured badass who lost the love of his life, Gaia, in a deforestation accident. Once the Planeteers summon him, he is so internally tortured that he contemplates destroying all human life on the planet. It's up to the emotionally tortured Planeteers to restrain the force they created.

#3. Deal With Today's Issues, But Not Too Much

If you're really getting serious, the first thirty minutes or so of a gritty reboot's plot should involve something that looks intriguing and that will really get the audience thinking about the world they live in. Maybe the movie hints at issues like drone warfare or socialism or preemptive war or PTSD. This shows that your movie is serious, something that goes beyond shots of good-looking people punching each other and jumping out of buildings into helicopters. After all, Hollywood is the way America speaks to the world, and maybe this time America has something to say.

Then the gritty reboot should always take this early promise and throw it away in favor of good-looking people punching each other and jumping out of buildings into helicopters, because as movies like Captain America: Winter Soldier showed us, that's what audiences really want to see.

And a little bit of the old "confronting nemeses on catwalks," why not.

Reboot Suggestion: Popeye

Popeye the Sailor Man is a lovable cartoon sailor who has amused audiences since 1929, but today's cynical, war-weary audiences want something more complex than that. Fortunately a new CG Popeye cartoon is in the works for 2015 or 2016, depending on who you ask, and its producer promises it will "focus on human strengths and human frailties." Sounds like an excellent start! The filmmakers probably still have some time to take suggestions, though, so here's ours:

Our modern, grittified Popeye should be a hardened Navy SEAL who kills a colleague, Bluto, after he mistakes Bluto's bearded face for that of a terrorist. Crushed, SO1 Popeye quits the military in despair. He attempts to heal his wounds and start a new life with his girlfriend Olive Oyl, an enlightened, sexually-liberated stripper. His superiors thank him for his service and wish him good luck in his new life. Or do they?

People from Popeye's military past start showing up and making threats, or leaving weird clues before being killed. Is the movie going to use its gritty realism for good, maybe as a commentary on how the government treats its veterans as disposable? Or about US government complicity in war crimes and torture? Will Popeye be forced to confront the moral ambiguities inherent in things like extrajudicial assassination and waterboarding? Nope! Turns out all the bad stuff is being caused by a fictional evil organization that no one can possibly get mad at in real life, because they're not real! Phew.

Via Blastr
Also it should be run by a Nazi computer ghost.

In our reboot, this organization, code-named SEA HAG, has infiltrated the Navy SEAL training program and has been feeding Popeye spinach that is actually green ketamine, which has been causing his super-strength and also his mental issues (it is important that the movie explain this, because there is no other reason that someone who killed his friend would have mental issues). The audience is riveted as they watch a hero forced to examine his prior commitment to a fictional organization none of them had ever heard of before entering the cinema.

"This movie really changed the way I think about Nazi computer ghosts."

Finally, Popeye decides that he is not having it anymore and simply punches the top brass of SEA HAG to death. The climax is a knife fight on a burning aircraft carrier with a resurrected Bluto, because nothing keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, and makes them feel like the characters they love are really in danger, like constantly resurrecting every single dead person that's important to the plot. The film ends with the day dawning over the ocean as Popeye stands on the shore, and we see that the knife fight has left a scar in the shape of an anchor on his arm (he is fine otherwise, because as gritty as this reboot is, we can't have a hero with any gross injuries, come on).

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C. Coville

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