Booting up Reboots

The trend in the last 10 years has been to reboot. Reboot TV shows, reboot movies, reboot comic books. The only one who hasn’t rebooted is Microsoft, it keeps adding ‘features and functionality’ to its software rather than starting from fresh and cleaning it up, but that is another topic altogether.

When it comes to movies, TV shows and comics, purists insist that any ‘reboot’ or revamp is an offense to the myth and set guidelines of a story/character. I on the other hand, welcome it. Yes, some of these attempts have not been as successful as they’d hoped for but some have been fantastically well done.

A reboot is simply an adaptation of a given story in a new setting or with a different twist to the main principle of the story. Comic books have and continue to make adjustments to the characters. When Superman was first created, he couldn’t fly, only leap. In his very first appearance, Batman killed a man and he carried a gun.

In my humble opinion, there have been 7 fantastic reboots in the past 10 years and 7 not so great ones. Below is my list and a brief explanation why I think it succeeded or failed:

The 7 troubled reboot attempts (in no particular order):

  1. The Punisher War Zone – Violence is required for Frank Castle but there must be a justification, a reason for it. This movie didnt provide enough justification why the violence was so free and it didnt make me like or feel for Frank Castle. The next Punisher movie should be with Thomas Jane again. He knows what the Punisher character should be like (NOTE: THIS IS NOT FOR THE YOUNG OR FAINT OF HEART): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWpK0wsnitc
  2. Superman Returns – Yes Bryan Singer can do action, yes he can create an enticing story, yes he can put together a great thriller, but people want to see Superman in action, not in a romantic drama. Great actors, but not enough punch. It was a nice attempt.
  3. DC’s New 52 initiative – I was a big comic collector back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I collected WAY to many titles but loved them all. In those days, DC would introduce a new title almost every week. That means that there was more work, but less quality in the characters, storylines and continuity. For me the biggest issue was keeping it all straight, there was way too much going in the DC universe to keep the continuity clear for all characters. With the change in popularity of comics (the money well started to dry up), DC decided that it was time to start fresh (again). They had created initiatives in the past that would change the path and impact of many a superhero. Their latest attempt followed Marvel’s (successful) attempt to rewrite some of their key players, origins and storylines. DC should have, instead, gone the route of setting up two classes of superheroes: 1) the big guns and 2) the supporting characters while keeping the universe as it was. They could have reduced the number of comic book instances but kept the strength and impact of their key storylines. Theirs was not a horrible decision, just the wrong one in my opinion. I cant start collecting from scratch again. I had to give it up. Now my kids wish I had keep collecting…
  4. Conan the Barbarian – Jason Momoa from Stargate Atlantis as Conan the Barbarian. Really? Really?!?
  5. Bionic Woman – Could you tell that this was not going to be a success when the anti-heroine was more popular than the actual lead? Don’t get me wrong, Michelle Ryan was OK in the show, the writers just couldn’t give her enough meat to make her role likable.
  6. V – Even with a great cast (and hot actresses), the show couldn’t live up to the hype and thrill of the original series from 1984.
  7. Knight Rider – How can this show have truly survived without the Hoff? Say what you will about David Hassellhoff, he was the right guy for this role, bar none.

The 7 best reboots: (again in no particular order):

  1. The Dark Knight Trilogy – Christopher Nolan can create a world that makes us BELIEVE that Batman could be real. He created a story arc that we are drawn to. We believe in the pain that motivates Bruce Wayne to become the Batman.
  2. Star Trek – Using the fine crew and characters that we have loved from the original series, this revamp gives the series a new vibe. It does not ignore what was set before, it simply puts a spin on the shows reality (like the plot development used in all iteration of the TV shows). Gone is the overbearing cerebral tone, instead we have more action. Anyone who disagrees, please prove it to me and tell me how successful the first movie was compared to its sequels… Had it not been for a more action oriented Wrath of Khan, the series could have ended then and there..,
  3. Battlestar Galactica – When the show was rebooted, I was upset that the vision and passion that I had as a kid was goin got be rewritten and changed completely. Am I glad to have been wrong. Not only was this show fantastic, it had moments of true reverence to the original show. And this series was able to finish its story properly, unlike its predecessor.
  4. Doctor Who – Hear me out before you complain. Although not a true reboot but rather a revamp, the previous iteration was built on long drawn out story arcs with very little visual elements. I remember watching these shows on PBS and always feeling ripped of at the end because I had to wait until next week, and the week after that to possibly get to the conclusion of the story. It left me hanging and angry on a weekly basis. Lost, another show that had season (and series) long arcs, was able to curtail that by at least answering some questions every week. Now, the BBC seems to have invested more in this legacy show of theirs and given us story arcs that span multiple episodes but almost each show can stand on its own. They have given it more action, which in turn has helped to increase its fan base and drawn me in more than I thought possible!
  5. X-Men First Class – Now the first two X-Men movies were great, the third tried to tackle a topic that even the comic book could not resolve in a single episode, the Phoenix Saga. I think that the scope of what they intended to do was too much for one movie and it could not be contained. To me, this attempt is like trying to put an ocean in a bathtub. You will need a crapload of bathtubs… The decision to go back to the early years is great. It does not reject the older movies, nor does it go sidesteping them, in fact it gives them a foundation that explains where their existence comes from and how they fit into the big picture. Plus, with the new movie on its way, it might provide a way to right some wrongs in the storytelling.
  6. Judge Dredd – I liked this violence-infested mayhem-riddled movie. It was dark, it was gritty and it told the story of the Judges as I think it was portrayed to be. There’s nothing nice and civilized about the Judges. Sylvester Stallone has done some great work in the past, his version of Judge Dredd wasn’t one of them. This movie would have made Lobo proud.
  7. The Marvel Ultimates – These were not replacements to the stories and characters or comics that existing, this was a new re-imagined world. It was parallel to the existing comics and gave the readers a monthly look at what the What If series could have done given that each story arc was not limited to only one comic.

I think that there will always be good reboots and bad reboots. The trick is in selecting the right ones and getting onboard a all in for the ride. Its not always going to be pretty, but at least it’ll always be fun!

Here are some of the reboots I hope to see:

  • The Punisher – The Thomas Jane reboot.
  • The Black Hole – This is in the works. Lets hope they can keep the great story but add some action to it. Dont touch Maximillian!
  • Daredevil – I didn’t mind Ben Affleck portrayal, but I think it needs to be darker in tone. Similar to what Wolverine 2 will most likely be.
  • Fantastic Four – Can one of their movies actually be about them? The first one was about Victor von Doom, the second should have been called Rise of the Silver Surfer (with appearances by the Fantastic Four).
  • Alien – If they could find a way to start at episode 3 again (and keep the cast from Aliens alive this time), I think they could make it action packed and thrilling. Killing off Hicks, Newt and Bishop was a lame story plot device. Why save them from episode 2 if you are going to kill them in between movies?
  • Buckaroo Banzai – this is a great movie. Peter Weller rocked as Buckaroo but it may be time to bring this one back. With what they can do today, this could be a great movie!

Do you have any suggestions or hopes for a reboot? Let us know!