“Retconning” is a popular past-time in modern comics, wherein something about an established character’s history is changed on purpose for some reason or another. In extreme cases, retcons can turn into full-fledged reboots, as John Byrne famously did in the Eighties with “Superman”.
Which is what brings us all here today.
Discussion after the jump.
- Batman: Saying Batman needs a reboot or a retcon is like saying an eighteen wheeler needs more wheels. Or that Kenny Rogers needs more plastic surgery. Or that Dolly Parton needs bigger … well, you get the idea. The fact of the matter is, with yet another animated series, and yet another hit movie series, there are more versions of Batman’s history than any other character outside the Green Lantern Corps. Don’t like the current version you’re enjoying in the sprawling Bat-mediaplex? Just grab a different one off the shelf!
- Iron-Man: Like Batman, I’d argue that the movies have already given this series the much-needed reboot to the head it needed. I actually think the movies are better than the comics have been in decades, because they were able to jettison the accumulated clutter of his jumbled past. I can’t imagine how a reboot of the character’s comic could possibly be better than what’s been done to him on the screen.
- Punisher: Like Batman and Iron-Man, Punisher has had his story retconned for the movies. Unlike those other two, his films suck. The problem with a Punisher reboot is that, frankly, the shock value of the over-the-top violence and killer attitude that made him interesting in the late Seventies is so ubiquitous as to be almost a cliche these days. A big guy with guns who has no problem killing bad guys? Ho hum. A real retcon for Frank Castle would be to make him a pacifist. Now that’s bold!
- Spider-Man: Another character that has gotten a good reboot from Hollywood. Recent events in the comics (the Ultimate universe, the much-maligned “Marriage that never was” in the comics, the entirety of the syndicated newspaper strip) indicate that, like Iron-Man, this is one character whose retcon is much better served cold — as in on the silver screen.
- Superman: Superman was also let down in his movie reboot, much like Punisher. He’s also been rebooted many times in the past, so at this point you sort of have to wonder what else they can do with the guy. I’d say Big Blue is definitely in need of some loving, though, he’s starting to look a little tired. And the movie showed that it’s more than possible to do him wrong.
- Wolverine: Again, this guy’s got so many “Untold Story” style retcons, I can’t keep track any more. He’s already pretty damn great, in all his incarnations, I don’t think I’d want to mess with the formula.
- Wonder Woman: They keep trying and trying, though from what I hear, Gail Simone has done a bang-up job in this latest attempt to rework the character. Setting that aside, none of the reboots (including, I hate to say, the George Perez expeditions of the Eighties) have been very good. I can’t tell if that’s because she’s fatally flawed as a character, or just that the right take hasn’t been hit on yet.
I’d have to say the strongest contenders of the original list are Superman and Wonder Woman. Since Supes has been done to death, and done well more often than not, it’s time to give the never-quite-right Wonder Woman a shot.
Who would you choose, and why?