Are reboots of comic book movies more forgivable?
Before I get into today’s topic, I want to give a quick shoutout to At the Back who passed me the Versatile Blogger Award. I really do appreciate the award for what it is, he thinks this site is in his top 10 list of blogs. But I’m not going to participate in the meme. If you follow me on Twitter, you did get to hear 10 random facts about me, but that’s as far as I’m going with it. I’ll stick with my Follow Fridays to share the blogging love. But today I wanted to go back to The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s a great movie, did well in the box office, though not quite as well as any of the Raimi movies yet, and was received rather well critically. But the thing hanging in the air in almost every single discussion about the movie was that it was too soon for a reboot. So my question for today is, should we be more forgiving of reboots of comic book movies?
If you look at comic books themselves, especially the biggest characters such as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the X-Men. They’ve been around for decades. They’ve been changed, re-imagined, re-booted, re-vamped countless times. Batman used to wield a gun. Superman originally didn’t fly. Beast was originally just a big guy with maybe a Robin Williams level of body hair, not thick blue fur. There was an eight year gap between Batman and Robin and Batman Begins. That’s only 3 more years than Spider-Man, but I don’t remember anyone saying “eight years is too soon for a reboot!” There was also only 5 years between X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class, and only 2 years after X-Men: Wolverine, but if I do a search for “too soon for a reboot?” on Google, not a single mention of X-Men on the front page, even if I stuff X-Men into my search, I find only old news about how it was in the works, but no outcry. So why is it that The Amazing Spider-Man is the one to cause so much of a ruckus when those other two reboots went by without hardly any fuss? Spider-Man 3 was even considered an awful movie by most moviegoers, and yet few people are thanking Marc Webb for cleansing the stink of Sam Raimi’s Venom away.
Honestly, I think comic book movies lend themselves to re-interpretations more than other genres of movies. Aside from a handful of titles that had a short but popular run, like Watchmen, or characters that have only been written by a single author, of which I don’t even know of any aside from the relatively unknown Sam Keith’s the Maxx, along with many other less familiar characters. And even books written by a single author can sometimes have different artists that help bring their own ideas to the character which can influence the stories. Comics evolve and change just as much as any other medium, the difference is that they retain their characters year after year after year.
I personally don’t feel that 5 years is too short of a time to bring a new interpretation of a well known superhero back into the theaters, or even on television. Smallville went off the air just last year, and this year they’re rebooting the character Green Arrow, who featured prominently in that series, into his own series. And once again, I see no outcry, no backlash, nothing. In fact, I generally see positivity towards the project. Or at the very least curiosity.
I think the biggest reason that fans are up in arms, or at least were up in arms; I think the backlash has quieted down a bit since the movie was actually good, is because of the Avengers. How can I make that connection? Well it’s time to put on my lawyer hat for a little bit here. A long while back when Marvel movies actually started making a little bit of bank, movie studios wanted to get the rights to other heroes. Fox got X-Men, Sony got Spider-Man, and so on. The way the internet understands these kind of agreements is that while Sony owns the rights to the Spider-Man character, they can make however many movies they want as long as they keep using the character. If a gap of X many years go by with no Spider-Man movie, then the rights automatically go back to Marvel. Before, that would mean that Marvel would have to shop Spider-Man to another movie studio before they could make a new Spider-Man movie, but now that Marvel is a studio in its own right, and a thumping impressive one with the Avengers movie at it forefront, I think a lot of fans would rather see Spider-Man go back to Marvel in the hopes of a future Spider-Man/Avengers team-up, or something like that. And on top of that, there’s also the general negativity surrounding making a movie strictly for the rights rather than the organic need to make a new incarnation of the character. I liked the movie a lot, and I even watched it only a couple days after watching the Raimi version of the origin. Was it too soon for a reboot of Spider-Man? No. Of course, that begs the question of how soon is too soon? I’ll let you know when I see it. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.