To Reboot or not to Reboot, That is the Question

Have you noticed how many comic reboots there are these days?  It makes sense from a financial standpoint, considering the current state of the economy. Much to the frustration of viewers hungry for something original – the film industry, and now even television – are putting their money behind sure things these days, and we can’t totally blame them.

We are now experiencing a fourth incarnation of Spiderman? But if you think about it, the character is aimed at a particular audience who, for many of them after a certain period of time, will grow up and move on to other stuff, for the most part. And so will the actors. Toby Maguire is now married with children. He and Kirsten Dunst have already shown their respective characters as heading into college and beyond. Even Andrew Garfield is considered too old now to play Peter Parker. Some of these characters have spanned over decades so it’s simply impossible for the same actors to play them.

Going back to the 60’s, we’ve seen  Catwoman played by six different actresses.

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Not counting the Gotham series on TV, over five different adult actors have played Bruce Wayne/Batman (sorry I’m purposefully leaving one out).

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And remember when the Hulk was played on TV by Lou Ferrigno and not in CG? Although the more recent David Banner recasts seem to have no rhyme or reason since all the actors appear to be around the same age; maybe they’re just looking for the right fit?

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We’re also seeing a lot of characters being recasted and age-regressed for sequels. The X-men films have gone back in time to do so, recasting Magneto, Professor X, Mystique, Jean Grey, Storm, etc. And yet somehow Hugh Jackman keeps coming back looking more ripped every time as Wolvlerine.

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On the other hand, the studios also want the built in fan bases that they believe come with many actors and so they’re recasting them as multiple superheroes: Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern and Deadpool; Ben Affleck as Daredevil and Batman; Aaron Taylor Johnson as Kick-Ass and Quicksilver; Chris Evans as Human Torch and Captain America…

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While this practice is understandable in theory, it doesn’t always work, particularly if the film has a weak story (Batman vs. Superman) and if the acting isn’t spot on. Star Wars: The Force Awakens did a great job of casting mostly unknowns like George Lucas did in the first three films, and it didn’t hurt ticket sales a bit. So the casting of bigger names or at least more well known actors to guarantee a return on the investment isn’t a standard by any means. The Fantastic Four reboot is proof of that.

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There is also the reboot /sequel variety that JJ Abrams managed to pull off with Force Awakens. Why mess with a perfect formula when you’re reigniting a franchise? Just make some necessary updates to the story like make the protagonist a female (Rey) and update the Droid (BB-8), ressurect the deep, throaty, masked villain (Kylo) and make the Death Star and their super planet destroyer bigger and better.. Don’t forget lots of homages to the original like bringing back Han, Luke, Leia, Chewy, C3PO, R2D2 and of course, the Millenium Falcon.

They’ve figured us out. We love nostalgia. Even more than ever, people are grasping on to those things that gave us comfort as kids like comics and Star Wars. It’s a win-win because they can make something PG-13 and draw in young and mature audiences alike: kids and their parents, singles on dates or just out with friends. But will they ever get over their obsession with rebooting?

Not likely any time soon. The most popular comic books historically will continue to draw in the fans because they got the formulas right. Standards like Batman and Superman have become so iconic, they’ve grown into the fabric of American culture, and more recently, overseas as well. Thanks to the success of the Marvel films, their characters are catching up quickly and becoming just as, if not more popular, than DC’s characters on a mainstream level.  

Check back with NerdSociety for upcoming comparisons of reboots in the months to follow.  If you have any ideas for a particular one, let me know which reboots you would like to see analyzed in the comments section here or on NerdSociety’s Facebook page!

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