Rebooting Comic Book Franchises

In recent years comic book adaptations have become extremely profitable. Movie studios are literally fighting over superhero franchises these days because they know it is easy money. We have finally reached the point in time when comic book nostalgia is selling as hotcakes. Each Marvel or DC brand name comes with a built in audience that can be counted in millions. And as long as you can produce a flashy trailer, you are almost guaranteed to get return on your investment.

These movies don’t have to be good. They don’t have to be well written, and don’t need Oscar quality acting. They just need to look spectacular and exciting. A popular superhero, good looking special effects, and a popular actor/actress in the lead role is all that you need to sell tickets. Therefore it is no surprise that most of these productions suck.

Yes, I said it and I’ll say it again – pretty much every single superhero movie made to this date was horrible. I hated Spiderman, I wasn’t impressed with X-Men trilogy, I hated Wolverine, Daredevil was a crime against humanity and I walked out half way through Electra and Ghost Rider because I could literally feel my brain cells dying from the exposure to these horrid movies. You of course know what I think about transformers – I ranted about it very recently.

Ironman was tolerable but that’s mainly due to the fact that Robert Downey Jr carried the whole picture on his shoulders. There is really nothing exceptional about the script of that movie other than witty dialogue. What really holds it together is Downey’s presence and charisma. The man shines so brightly as Tony Stark that you can barely see the outlines of the simplistic, unimpressive plot. This is of course merely a testament to Downey’s uncanny ability to be awesome while on camera – nothing less, and nothing more.

The few successful adaptations out there (Sin City, 300, Watchmen) were based not on ongoing superhero series, but on one-off graphic novels. They were done with great passion, attention to detail and with great respect to the source which itself was very consistent and homogeneous. Superhero series on the other hand, are not consistent. Often a popular superhero may appear in 3-4 publications simultaneously – all taking his/her character in different directions and exploring different aspects of his/her personality. These stories are often contradictory which, if needed is usually fixed via crude retcons. No one knows how to deal with that kind of source material.

No one but Christopher Nolan. He found the right formula, and managed to do something none of his peers could pull off. His Batman movies are well thought out, well executed and well acted. I can’t for example say enough good things about Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance as Joker. These movies were simply great. But they were also a complete reboot of the franchise which bloomed and turned into shit well before the superhero boom started.

Batman was the first, and for a very long time the only commercially successful comic book adaptation. It became big, mostly due to the fact that the first picture was actually done well. It wasn’t merely popular – it became iconic. So what do you do when a movie is successful? You shoot a sequel of course. With more highly paid stars and more special effects of course. The movie already has a built in audience – it doesn’t need to be good!

And so each subsequent Batman movie contained more stars, more special effects and less plot and common sense. Up until the point they overshot the lowest common denominator by about a mile and created something so horrible that even the dumbest, least sophisticated and least demanding movie goers couldn’t stomach it. The franchise was considered dead, and un-recoverable until Christopher Nolan picked it up, and restarted the Batman craze.

It is my little wish that all the other superhero franchises that have been butchered in the recent comic book adaptation craze will get the same treatment. Someone like Christopher Nolan will go after the superhero titles which have been run into the ground and make them awesome again. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

I think that the prime candidate for a reboot is the Spider-Man series. I am fairly sure that there will be no fourth movie, because the third installment was pretty much a blatant mockery of the fans. It was like an insult directed towards the core audience and everyone who actually enjoyed the two previous movies. I mean who the hell decided that Thoper Grace (skinny dork) was a good casting choice for Eddie Brook (though, vicious muscle-head)?

But I digress. I bashed Spiderman 3 already so no need to do that again. Needless to say, the third movie was atrocious enough to bring the whole franchise to a rebootable state. Spiderman brand now stinks of failure, and no longer guarantees a commercial success. Therefore some risk taker, with a small budget and a good idea can take it and make it good again.

How would we reboot Spider Man? Le’s go back to the roots! I want mechanical web shooters (none of that biological crap), radioactive spider and a Green Goblin in actual latex makeup and not some crappy power armor.

Willem Dafoe is a decent actor, but I’d love to see someone doing for Green Goblin what Heath Ledger did for Joker. I know, I know – performance of that level is not easy to match, but we can hope, can we. And naturally the first movie should revolve around Gwen Stacy story arc. I mean, let’s face it – her death was sort of a pivotal moment in the wall-crawlers history. Second movie (if there is one) should re-tell the Venom story from the begging but with a non-wussy Eddie Brook.

Next one on my list is Daredevil which was so bad, no one even wanted to make a sequel out of it. Ben Affleck ruined the franchise before it even had a chance to take off the ground. I grew up reading a very noir version of Daredevil as written by Frank Miller. Afleck and his team ripped all the style and all the darkness out of that story and turned it into badly shot slapstick. Someone really has to pick this title up and re-do it Batman style. Maybe we can get Nolan on the job. This would be right up his alley.

Another series I would love to see rebooted is Transformers. Alas, they are not ripe yet. We must give Michael Bay one or two more movies until he runs it into the ground. Not that it is not bad enough yet. It’s just that it is still profitable. And Bay can probably keep it so for few more installments by simply slashing plot and adding more boobs and explosions into the equation. Still, I’d really like to see a Transformers movie that is actually about… You know – Transformers. One in which the robots have actual personalities and goals. But we will have to wait for that one a while.

Which comic book series would you like to see rebooted and why?

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3 Responses to Rebooting Comic Book Franchises

  1. Mackattack UNITED KINGDOM Safari Mac OS says:

    Personally I liked transformers – I think it’s a little silly to ask for anything more than explosions and boobs from a franchise about Detroit Cars turning into giant robots and voting republican.

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  2. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I kind of like Ghost Rider, the movie was so stupid it’s not possible it was not intended that way, and me and my friends had a good laugh watching it and later citing memorable quotes like “Look into my eyes. Your soul is stained by the blood of the innocent. Feel their pain!” (even better with a rough french translation)… still makes me smile two years later. I admit I had (and still have) no knowledge of the source material, which is probably the only way to enjoy a basic comic-book based movie. Quite strange and self-defeating really, because I’d assume they choose the source material to attract its fans and not alienate them…

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @ Mackattack: Well, see this is where we differ. I am a true believer that movie making is an art – a sto. A skillful movie maker can tell an interesting and compelling story given any material.

    Transformers was pretty much just an extended car commercial with no story, no character development and no appeal other than a visual barrage of boobs and explosions.

    @ Zel: Yeah, but that kindoff misses the point. If you want to do an over-the-top parody, you don’t even need to license the source material. If you are doing an adaptation, you ought to put some effort to it rather than turn it into a farce.

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