As time progresses, the amount of time before a franchise is rebooted grows shorter and shorter.
Just The Facts
- Like comic book characters, comic book franchises never stay dead for long.
- Like super villains, the fans always come back for another round.
- Like impending apocalypses, reboots are happening more and more often.
Reboot Mourning Period Rate of Change
When Tim Burton decided to make Batman in 1989, he did so with the knowledge that he would be able to do things with the medium that hadn't been available to filmmakers when Adam West donned the tights. West's Batmobile looked like a Camaro with body modifications and a paint job done with red eyeliner. Michael Keaton's bat-mobile had a jet engine, machine guns, armored panels, a grappling hook and even a CD player.
Must have been one Hell of a midlife crisis.
For the sake of comparison, earlier this year, Sony announced the cancellation of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man franchise, and the rebooting of said franchise on the same day. At the same press conference.
In the span of 18 years, Hollywood had gone from taking a breather for 23 years between franchise installments, to taking the amount of time Sony PR executives pause between sentences (estimated at approximately .3 seconds, which is liberal, give the amount of cocaine they had likely ingested at the time). One question a disappointingly small portion of the fanbase asked was: Why?
It was the dance.
The answer, as it always does, lies with Batman. After Burton's second Batman had a drop in box office returns due to it's violence and sex appeal, Warner Brothers decided they wanted a more family friendly fear-themed vigilante. So the studio handed the keys to Joel Schumacher, a director who had never made two not-terrible films in a row, cast a new star, and created a universe that looked nothing like the one in the first two films. But because this was during the magical time when "Reboot" meant that CGI cartoon from Canada, it was called a sequel and no questions were asked.
One hundred twenty-two minutes of forever later, the franchise had been utterly destroyed with a be-nippled Bat Suit that had pop out ice skates built into the boots for no given reason. Batman lay face down on the floor, bleeding out through his face like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. But eventually, a great filmmaker named Christopher Nolan would earn the right to make a new Batman movie. Thus Batman Begins was born, the first film to be called a reboot, and it was wildly successful.
If there's one thing Windows knows, it's rebooting.
Now, if you're good at using the logical part of your brain, you might draw the conclusion that it was the talented director that saved the franchise, not the 'almighty' reboot. However, if you're good at using the part of your brain that runs Hollywood -- the part that's primary concern is finding an excuse to snort a door into your cocaine igloo -- you might be led to believe a reboot is the best and only response to a drop in box office sales.
Our friends The
Hulk Incredible Hulk and Superman Returns followed this powdery train of thought recently. Both of them continued their respective stories in broad strokes but abandoned the traits that sunk their previous movies. The fans' reaction? Verdicts ranged from 'okay' to 'alright' but there was one thing everyone agreed on... No one was going to perform scientistic experiments with dangerously low safety protocols anymore if these were the results we were going to get.
What do you expect when you outsource everything?
Which is all a reboot really is when you think about it, an experiment. Management thought the Batman movies were too campy, then too dark, then too campy, and now back to dark, but the point is for whatever reason they wanted to adjust them. And who can blame them for wanting to improve what was done in the past? How many times have you wished that you could un-see some horrible atrocity, un-say some hurtful comment, or un-unbutton your pants in some courtroom.
Sadly, film executives have yet to realize that with great power comes great responsibility. Bad movies and old movies may be fine to reboot, but not everything needs one. The reboot is not the bacon of the film industry; you cannot just tack it onto anything and hope to make it better. But theirs is an appetite that cannot be quenched, and each indulgence only fuels their hunger.
Not what I meant by 'stripping' but it'll do.
And now Spider-Man is in the greasy hands of the reboot. Sure, the third one was more muddled than Sandman's bathwater, but Sony invested a lot in the current series. Why ditch one of the most successful superhero franchises from one of the top 10 directors of our generation? Especially if you're just going to get the director from 500 Days of Summer to redo the origin story like we've never heard of Peter Parker.
And as terrible as the Nightmare on Elm Street remake was, at least you could go in expecting better special effects, but I've still got Halloween candy older than the Spider-man trilogy. How can they possibly hope to improve something that recent? Heed my warning Internet, if these trends continue we may eventually see several reboots of the same franchise within a year. Movies will be filmed just so that they can be remade in a few months, "pre-boots" if you will.
And in this hyperbolic nightmare, the naming conventions alone will be enough to drive all but the most diehard fans insane. Overall quality and budget would inevitably decline, which would only cause a demand for more reboots. Hollywood will have become a dark and desolate place where nothing but old ideas are thrown around like cash at paternity suits.
The point is, with the combination of Hollywood's history of bad ideas and trigger-happy approval stamps, it's not going to be long before a Hollywood executive crawls out from the rubble of his solid white mansion, dusts the cocaine off his lapels, and wonders what went wrong with Aquaman.
It's a seahorse! Get it?
Of course, faster than he asks the question, the answer will bubble up into his mind. Aquaman needs ice skates!