In just a few hours, most of the world will be on their way to see Man of Steel and some of us will breathe a sigh of relief (or shake with anger if you hated it) that another DC franchise finally gets off the ground. While it’s all great if finally someone gets a Superman movie right after nearly 40 (yes, it’s been that long!) years, there is still a problem plaguing Hollywood and that’s the infamous ‘reboot’.
Not to be confused with the remake in which a movie franchise attempts retells nearly the exact story of the original and use the same characters (think 3:10 to Yuma, Clash of the Titans, Evil Dead or Nightmare on Elm Street) a reboot usually occurs with franchises when movie producers get it into their minds that a certain character needs a fresh start (In this case, you can also include James Bond or Conan **don’t judge me it’s for the point I am making**). The small differences are story elements can change as well as certain characters may or may not be used. It’s usually a matter of perspective that changes but there is a fine line on what constitutes a reboot and a remake. The Batman and Spider-man franchises are perfect places to start.
While I have not seen Man of Steel yet and have every intention of doing so this weekend, my only let down thus far without even viewing it is knowing at least part of the movie will be spent telling the origin…again. So what’s my issue? While I understand that it’s been nearly 40 years since the original has graced the scene, too many movies and Superhero franchises are being rebooted for various reasons with various results: casting changes, directorial changes, storylines and most importantly money. But when I look back at the two reboots of the past 15 years (Spider-man and Batman) part of me thinks that there are some things that reboots gets right and gets wrong and I think we should take a look at how Hollywood can fix these things.
Stop wasting time on the origin story
For the love of all that is holy, when you have 2 hours to tell your story, an established character’s origin should not be 1 ½ hours of the movie in a reboot. I don’t think audiences need their hands held that much to understand how Spider-man became Spider-man or what drove Bruce Wayne to become Batman. I think when you already have a superhero movie that has been out for at least 10 years or more, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, start a new chapter. Heck comic books do it enough times already. If they reboot the universe, the first books don’t necessarily go back through the origin of that character again because most fans are assumed to have a working knowledge of this and movie audiences should stop being handheld by this also. If you want to know how Spider-man got his powers, how the Fantastic Four got theirs and so on, either watch the original films, read the book or Wikipedia that way hopefully a great ‘next chapter’ movie can be told. A great sleeper film that came out that didn’t go through all that hoopla was last year’s Dredd. Watch it, you will like it.
Stop using the same villains
By some measure for Man of Steel, some merit could be given that General Zod would be Kal-El’s nemesis as for years, SINCE Superman II, there has barely been a credible villain for Superman to fight. While I applaud Zack Snyder for bringing in a character to step up to Superman’s weight class, I still think that there are still tons of villains that has been overlooked. Come on, we saw Zod in Superman II and yes we are tired of Lex Luthor but what about Braniac, Doomsday or *gasp!* Parasite? The Amazing Spider-man actually got some props by bringing in the Lizard and plans to use Electro and Rhino meaning that we won’t be seeing the Green Goblin again…soon. But come on Hollywood, there are tons of great characters that have been created over the nearly 70+ years some of these heroes have been around without having to rehash the Joker and 2 face every other movie!
Add to the mythos
One of the biggest problems in rebooting movies is that directors get so hung up in the origin story, the family story, the love interest and the villain, is that they are so busy trying to reboot the story, they FORGET TO TELL the story. This is sign that really, you had nothing to add to what was already established. Taking our initial examples, the Batman franchise was in need of a reboot and for better or worse Christopher Nolan did an excellent job of resetting the Batman mythos on the big screen. Of course some will argue over the various points I made about reusing story elements and characters to get the point across but the movies were good (and yes the last one fell a bit short). But in my opinion, I am still at a loss as to why Spider-man needed a reboot. Especially with how last year’s movie fared (I wasn’t a fan of it) and considering it’s barely been over 10 years since Toby McGuire’s first effort, I felt that if anything, the Spider-man franchise would have been better served by turning the chapter as opposed to starting all over again from scratch. The movie probably could have benefited more about the Lizard’s origin or even ‘a day in the adventures of’ direction than having to sit again through another spider bite. This is why we groan when we hear of a franchise being rebooted (just think Iron Man may get rebooted as well as Green Lantern. Is that bile you taste in the back of your mouth?) which is why there will be a certain letdown for the Man of Steel upon my viewing.
Be like Bond, James Bond
Think back to the James Bond example to which I alluded much earlier. How many James Bond movies have there been over the past 50 years with different people playing the role of key characters yet almost none of these movies are interrelated. You don’t have to see them in any particular order to understand the next…at least not until Daniel Craig takes over. It would really be nice to see someone do this with a superhero movie. Bond is not even a comic book yet one of the most iconic characters in movie history so what would it take to do Spider-man the same way? If you are going to make 10 movies and recast at least 3 of them you don’t have to reset each time you make a change. Just imagine if Captain America went that long or even Iron Man or even the Avengers. X-men is trying to do this but really I think if Hollywood would stop trying clean the slate and add to the universe that exists, it would be a lot easier to get some of these movies made.
Get Better Talent and also stop kissing up to the original
I will name two movies and we can move on “Superman Returns” and “Total Recall”
In conclusion, let’s be honest with ourselves, we aren’t that dumb or slow that every superhero movie needs to go back and cover basic ground. I like to think that at some point, if you are over a certain age and plan on making a conscious decision to see a superhero movie, you already have an idea who they are and how they came to be. When I saw Christopher Reeve nearly 40 years ago as a 7 year old, while I already had an idea of who and what he was, but it was nice to see it on screen. When I saw Batman in 1989 and saw how that franchise fall, it was nice to see someone almost 20 years later giving it some distance and then redo it and serve it justice. And I can go on and on, and yes, I know for some, Man of Steel will be some kid’s Christopher Reeve moment but how will that kid feel in knowing that he may have to sit through that whole story again less than 5 years because someone was too afraid to take the risk of grabbing the baton and instead of moving forward, push us back to the starting line for the 3rd time?
I am ready for Man of Steel. I am ready to see Superman succeed on the big screen again, but maaaaaaaaaaaaan, I am tired of waiting to see how Krypton explodes, again.