It is not my intention to sound like a lunatical preacher with a doomsday sign, but we live in dire times people. While marketability has always played a part in the shaping of cinema, in recent times especially it has become the fuel in the engine that drives the mediocrity mobile. In this new frontier the importance of the franchise is at an all-time high, with franchises like the Harry Potter and The Transformers series’ dominating our time and our wallets. However what can one do when your franchise has passed away? Well the obvious solution is to dig it out of the ground, pick out the worms from its skull and finally use some perverted science to reanimate it into a zombie that feeds upon our money and dependence on the familiar. Now of course I need to take a more balanced and less pessimistic approach to the subject of reboots, which I shall attempt to do in great detail and clumsy metaphors.
With the Spider-Man reboot swiftly approaching us, the credibility and necessity of reboots has come into question, at least in my painfully sceptical view. It is hard to ignore the fact that Spider-Man 3 came out a mere 5 years ago, which either suggests a move to quickly erase the damage that Emo Peter Parker caused, or an attempt to desperately revive the dried udder of the cash cow. We will of course have to wait until The Amazing Spider-Man comes out before confirming pre-conceptions, however my terrible knack for pessimism leads me to believe that while the intentions of those involved with the project may be noble, Columbia Pictures will be thinking more along the lines of the potential profit.
It does however become increasingly hard to be sceptical when we actually examine some reboots which were handled with love, respect and affection. Batman Begins completely reinvigorated the Batman franchise, which had been left out in the sun to rot after the utter abysmal failure that was Batman & Robin. Let us also not forget Casino Royale, which brought a well-needed shot of new life into a series which had become tediously stale. It is in this context where reboots can prove to be extremely rewarding for both the studios and the audience.
The key ingredient in the success of a reboot seems to be necessity. While the move to reboot the Spider-Man series so soon after it ended may appear to be fuelled out of greed, there is at least a demand for a Spider-man film with a darker and more realistic tone (I’m looking at you Raimi.) Our love and dependence on pop cultural phenomena like Super Heroes will most likely lead to a countless amount of reboots, with each series simply being restarted once its natural story arc has finished. While this will grant the characters and stories that we love an almost immortal presence, shouldn’t films be treated with a sense of sacredness and distinction? Could we ever live in a world where franchises like Star Wars are rebooted? Originality must persevere over the dependence on brand recognition in order for film to survive as an art form, otherwise films will continue to exist merely as business ventures.
By Joe Buckley