Where do we draw the line with reboots?

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Hey, guess what’s coming out this year! A Jumanji reboot! Another Friday the 13th reboot! The second Spider-Man reboot in less than a decade! The second sequel to the second Planet of the Apes reboot! You get the idea. Now more than ever, Hollywood is making a practice of digging up something old and giving it a fresh coat of paint. Of course in many cases, the paint went bad years ago, emitting a rancid odor we can smell from a mile away.

As much as we dread some reboots, though, there are others that we practically beg Hollywood to make. We were all on-board for reboots featuring the likes of Godzilla and James Bond, but collectively cringed when we heard they were remaking RoboCop and Willy Wonka. So why do people welcome a Batman reboot with open arms, but shun a reboot like Ghostbusters without even seeing it? Where exactly do we draw the line?

Superhero movies are obviously the most common offender when it comes to reboots. Some are great, such as Batman Begins, and others are dreadful, such as Fant4stic. Quality aside, however, these reboots habitually generate lots of hype months in advance. As mentioned before, Spider-Man: Homecoming is hitting theaters only three years after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 disappointed. That’s even less than the five-year gap between Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man. Nevertheless, Spider-Man: Homecoming is still one of the most anticipated movies of the summer and is bound to make a bundle.

No matter how many times you reboot Batman and Spider-Man, there’s typically enough interest to pack the theaters. That’s largely because these characters have been getting the reboot treatment longer than you think. Long before Batman Begins made up for Batman & Robin, Tim Burton’s 1989 film aimed to erase the campy Adam West show from our memories. Before the Adam West series was around, Columbia Pictures released a slew of Batman serials. There were already so many interpretations that it was kind of hard to complain when DC decided to reboot the character yet again in Batman v Superman.

Even before reboots were a Hollywood staple, a lot of comics made a habit of relaunching their properties. The DC Universe kicked things off in 1934, but later introduced the Silver Age in 1956, Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, and The New 52 in 2011. Given all the different versions out there, people often fight over which stands out as the absolute best. Some people believe Michael Keaton was the best Batman, others champion Christian Bale, and there’s probably even a poor soul out there that preferred George Clooney above all the rest. Since there’s not a definitive Batman that everyone can rally behind, there’s always room for a fresh face to join the debate.

You could also apply this to Disney’s recent live-action remakes of their animated classics. Many people argued that the 2017 remake of Beauty and the Beast wasn’t necessary because the 1991 version was perfect. On that basis, though, you could argue that the 1991 version wasn’t necessary since the 1946 French film was perfect. Even the original Beauty and the Beast fairytale went through countless different interpretations before it came to the silver screen. Since Beauty and the Beast is a timeless story, we’ve all come to accept the fact that it’s going to be rebooted time after time.

The same goes for franchises like Planet of the Apes, The Mummy, and Star Trek. Prior to their modern reboots, these series had already amounted to numerous sequels, spinoffs, and other tie-ins. So really, what harm can another version do? When Hollywood tries to reboot a standalone masterpiece, however, it can feel like something we love and hold dear is being replaced. This is where the fans break out torches and pitchforks.

1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a perennial classic that’s been passed down from generation to generation. Garnering an untouchable status over the time, the film was widely considered to be in a league of its own. When 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came along, it seemed like a betrayal against our childhoods. RoboCop might’ve inspired a couple lame sequels, the original classic continues to stand out as one of the 80s best action flicks. So why did the 2014 reboot need to exist, especially when previous attempts to rejuvenate the franchise didn’t work?

Then there’s 2016’s Ghostbusters, a reboot some people despised and others enjoyed fine. No matter what you thought of the film, however, we can all agree that is was completely unnecessary. Why? Because the 1984 original is one of those movies that just can’t be recaptured. Ghostbusters 2 already made this clear years ago.

These reboots not only failed because their predecessors are so beloved, but because there isn’t a lot you can do with them beyond one movie. Not every hit film was meant to be a launching point for a franchise. It’s okay to be a self-contained blockbuster. Alas, Hollywood appears convinced that if something worked once, it’ll work again, and again, and again. So for every franchise that actually does have staying power, we get several more reboots that leave audiences asking, “why are they still making these?”

Some might say that the upsurge of reboots is just a passing trend and Hollywood will eventually take more risks on original projects. With the way things are going, however, we’re only inches away from getting reboots of Casablanca, E.T., and Back to the Future. So lets draw a line in the sand now before it’s too late.

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About Nick Spake

Nick Spake has been working as an entertainment writer for the past ten years, but he's been a lover of film ever since seeing the opening sequence of The Lion King. Movies are more than just escapism to Nick, they're a crucial part of our society that shape who we are. He now serves as the Features Editor at Flickreel and author of its regular column, 'Nick Flicks'.

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