I have been giving some thought recently to the ongoing trend of rebooting established movie franchises when they have started to show signs of running dry – the idea of shaking things up when the appeal of a franchise has clearly wained with audiences both creatively and at the box office commercially. It seems like franchise based on adaptations of superhero comic series are particularly vulnerable to this trend. You can find examples of both Marvel and DC movie properties being revamped or re-envisioned after appearing to have lost the creative spark and vision that got them to whatever levels of success they have previously enjoyed.
Of course one obvious example is the renewed success that DC and Warner Bros. have experienced with the hugely successful relaunch of their Batman movie franchise. It is probably not a stretch to say that the rebooted Batman movie universe has even experienced a greater commercial and critical success with both fans and critics than it did the first time around. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Batman franchise after the third and final film in the current Batman trinity has come and gone. It is expected that both Director and star will take their leave of the franchise after this third film.
Staying with DC, the superman franchise is a curious case. After a long absense from the big screen, Superman returned a few years ago with a film project helmmed by Brian Singer that was released with big expectations but that was a dissapointment for many Superman fans in particular and moviegoing audiences in general. Maybe not too surprisingly, it seems that (according to some rumours) this was enough to persuade the studio to consider going ahead with a likely reboot of the last reboot.
Looking over to Marvel, there are clearly a few Marvel film franchises that have either already undergone a reboot, are in the process of being reworked/reinvented, or are a likely candidate for being reworked sometime in the near future.
The earliest example of a Marvel character getting a movie workover is probably the Ang Lee directed Hulk movie of 2003. The first Hulk movie received a somewhat mediocre response from audiences when it was releasd, so in 2008 another Hulk movie, this time titled The Incredible Hulk, was released and with Ed Norton as its star recieved somewhat more positive responses from fans and audiences. Of course it did not hurt that it had a minor tie in with the mega successful Iron Man movie which was released the same Summer.
More recently, the successful X-Men movie franchise rceived the reboot treatment with the release earlier this year of X-Men: First Class. This relaunch of the X-Men franchise was a success and hopefully will mark the start of another entertaining run of movies about Marvel mutants.
In post-production right now is the new Spider-Man movie, which is apparently going to be a relaunch of a franchise which saw its last installment released only afew years back. In 2007 we were given Spider-Man 3, and now apparently the spider-Man franchise is already at a point where it needs new blood to keep it afloat. I am going to assume that major problem was that the principle actors (ie Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst) were not too keen on reprising their roles any more and so the obvious answer was to just go ahead and reboot the whole franchise with andrew Garfield starring as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the upcoming, The Amazing Spider-Man. I am not saying that it was a bad idea, just that I felt that the first time around was so good it might be a bit hard to top it or to even come close for that matter.
As for what future Marvel franchises might be prime candidates for the rework magic? I think that the Fantastic Four never really reached the levels of success and acceptance that the studio hoped it would and would probably benefit from a fresh perspective that borrows more from the comics roots. to be honest, I thought that the second movie tried to get more cosmic and was more entertaining for it but that it was likely a case of too little too late. The right writer, director and casting could probably work wonders for the franchise though. I also believe that if done right, a new attempt at a Daredevil movie could be a big hit with fans and audiences. Personally, I would like to see much of the original Frank Miller work on the book brought to the screen but it might work way better as an ongoing series instead of a big screen one-off project. I would love to see each issue of the comic adapted to television.(but of course that’s just me)
There you go, food for thought. Is there anything else out there that I missed? Any comicbook based movie adaptations that I forgot about that would also be a candidate for a second chance at cinematic life? If so let me know!