The Big Question ♯6

Ok, carrying on from last week's big question, this week I want to know what you guys think of reboots.

We all know about the big reboots in film (The Amazing Spider-Man, Man Of Steel, Batman Begins, The Incredible Hulk, the forth-coming Fantastic Four reboot etc.) and the ones that DC like to do every other decade (Flash/ Green Lantern in the 50's, Post- Crisis on Infinite Earths retelling/ fiddling with the origins of Superman/ Batman/ Wonder Woman/ Green Lantern/ Hawkman (yes, Hawkman) & the Justice League, the zero issue relaunch of numerous titles after Zero Hour in '94, Elseworlds and of course the New 52, alongside smaller title specific reboots mostly involving the Teen Titans) or Marvel's Ultimates serieses (what's the plural of series?). But, are reboots a good idea, reintroducing characters to people who weren't around the first time, or are they just another way to grab peoples money?

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13 Responses to The Big Question ♯6

  1. As for the money aspect, yes, some publishers are milking the cash cow. I prefer the “What Ifs” and “Elseworlds” as opposed to changing the official canon. Stuff that is stand-alone, maybe even serial, but has no lasting consequences to the characters’ universe.

    There is sometimes a need to re-introduce a character. Usually done to update him/her/it to modern sensibilities and preferences. Remember the old Batman matinees from the 1940s? Yeah… you can’t do that stuff anymore.

    Many times, you get a new writer or director who wants to either make the character “his own” or completely knock the hardcore fans off their tee. Inevitably, this results in another reboot after the publisher fires the writer.

    My favorite example is “Highlander III.” So off-put and upset were the fans over “Highlander II,” the studio released an official apology when “III” debuted. This was before the internet. Man… those are some rabid fans!

    The most effective “reboots,” I think, are ones that bring up the past or are the result of a specific action. Ones that change a characters’ direction. Something that is part of a continuity, just as people change, mature, and even revert.

    Simply blowing up the galaxy and re-packaging characters… that’s just lazy.

  2. IMO, reboots in comics are sometimes nescessary due to accumulated incoherences, or the fact that a character’s origins have become too old.

    But these are due mostly to 2 things:
    – Bad writing/editing: Sure, some mistakes will be made, but if writers and editors know and do their job, you’ll have seldom cases were spiderman is godlike in strength one issue, barely super the next one.
    – Refusal to have the characters age and retire. Even at, say, half the normal rate, the aforementioned spiderman should now be quite old, maybe retired, with new heroes taking his place.

    And then, of course, reboots are abused as a way to make money (DC, I’m looking at you).

    Reboots in movies aren’t as bad, yet they still can be. My, I really didn’t want to pick again on spiderman, but did they really need to reboot the entire franchise? Same thing if they reboot the FF? The previous movies were recent enough and ok enough to have sequels made instead of rehashing again and again the same old story. Will they make yet another hulk origin movie? Peuh-lease…

  3. Seems there’s too many reboots and rehashes. Hollywood is braindead.

  4. It’s always about the quality for me. If you can make a good product I don’t mind a reboot now and then, especially with films. The Spiderman franchise was a pretty quick turnaround but after the Spiderman 3 debacle I think we needed something to cleanse the palate. (Side note: My favorite joke in regards to quick turnaround…”This isn’t your slightly older brother’s Spiderman.”)

    Comic books are a little trickier. Fans can get really invested in them over a long period of time that any big change is a shock to the system. On the other hand there are so many creative forces on these endeavors that it is harder to maintain a consistent vision so a little clean up is inevitable and sometimes welcomed.

    The money aspect has never bothered me. I always hope the people that are providing me with entertainment make lots of money so they can continue to provide me with entertainment.

  5. Just a way to grab money. Stories need a beginning, middle and END!!! If they’re losing money, do what TV does: CANCEL THE SERIES! Superman was born during World War One, so he’s obviously immortal, but Lois should be in her 90’s and Jimmy in his 80’s. LET THEM REST!

  6. Reboots are good if done well. Sometimes writers need to set back or forward the clock on something that may not have done well, or got so complicated no one knows what’s going on any more. Pro wrestling and soap operas do it all the time. It makes no sense to keep a storyline going if no one can fallow it any more. Retcons and reboots actually make it so we don’t have to relive horrors like the clone saga or the red and blue Superman period.

  7. there seems to be a pretty common opinion here. And i agree, DC would rather reboot Batman, than let Bruce retire and let Dick take over? Okay, i understand that. But they have gone a little crazy with it (Yes, this is an understatement). Especially with things like the New 52 continuing pre-Flash Point plots like Batman Incorporated and the events following the War of the Green Lanterns. It seems to me you ought to tell a story, let it end, and then reboot it IF you still have some good ideas for it’s characters. This can be complicated with a whole Superhero Universe where characters interact If Captain America’s story line takes five years and Iron Man’s takes Seven, where does leave the Avengers? Honestly though this can be a problem anyway. Kyle’s a Green Lantern in the New 52, so Emerald Twilight must have happened, but when? Somewhere in the five years between Justice League and the rest of the New 52 titles? So within that time The GLC was destroyed, rebuilt, fought the Sinestro War, The War of Light, and The Blackest Night? More importantly, if all those things still happened, what was the point of rebooting the universe? i guess this is the long way of saying, yes, DC uses it as a money-grabber. And speaking of Hawkman, he’s the poster boy of reboots getting out of control, as demonstrated by this cover: http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Hawkmancontinuity.jpg

    As for Movies, i think rebooting those can be done as much as you want, as long as you’re telling a good story and not being too repetitive. The Amazing Spiderman just couldn’t have been a continuation of the previous trilogy, but it lived up to the name “Amazing.” The nice thing about movies is you don’t need a big event to reboot them, though i’m not seeing why FF needs a reboot.

    Final thought: Series is plural already.

  8. Rebooting is merely a tool, not unlike its antithesis, continuity. It can be done for good or bad reasons, and it can be done well, or poorly, depending on the effort and talent of the creative team involved. Yes, it seems rebooting a franchise has come into vogue lately, especially in movies, but in a few cases, I can’t argue with the reasoning. Everyone will admit that after the travesty that was Batman & Robin that Nolan had no choice but to reboot the Batman movie franchise. Likewise, after the silly, stupid third and fourth movies in Richard Donner’s Superman movies (along with the poorly executed attempt to maintain the continuity with Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns; for the record, as bad as it was, it’s still leagues better than Superman 4: The Quest for Peace), Zac Snyder did right by redoing everything in Man of Steel.

    In comic books, however, the idea of balancing continuity with the need to reboot things end up contradicting each other. Yes, Arioch is correct, one of the major reasons for this is bad writing and poor editorial control. Unfortunately with the Big 2 publishers, using a revolving stable of writers and editors working on a title for a while and then moving on to another project, does make for a certain schizophrenic creative process, and eventually someone ends up taking a giant eraser to fix the entire mess. Add in the fact that while fans would like to see some continuity in the story lines, after their hero evolves to a point past what drew a reading public to him or her in the first place, and now they want things set back the way they were. Walking that razor’s edge is the problem if the character doesn’t evolve with the times, and bam! you need a reboot on the character to make him relevant again.

    Would comics be better if heroes matured, retired and passed the torch onto the younger generation like in real life? I don’t know. In some cases it works (Wally West taking over for Barry Allen did well), while in others, a hero is so intrinsically, iconically tied to his superhero persona that for someone else to take on the role would cause a revolt, or at least apathy for the new version (how long was Bucky allowed to be Captain America anyway? Two weeks?). I just don’t see the comic industry willing to marry itself to a solid continuity though, it would seem too risky.

    In short, to answer the question: “Are reboots a good idea, reintroducing characters to people who weren’t around the first time, or are they just another way to grab peoples money?” the answer is “Yes. And sometimes, both at the same time.”

  9. William A. Peterson

    Letting various characters age, die, or otherwise move off center stage may SEEM like a good idea… but, you’re talking Valuable Corporate Intellectual Property, here! WHY do you think DC recently brought back Brother Power, the Geek? {Okay, only for one issue, but I think you get my point…}
    If you’re not REALLY going to kill them off (and they’re not, no matter how many times they say they “really, really” mean it, this time), then don’t kill them off, at all.
    On the other hand, yeah, an Immortal Lois Lane (or worse, an immortal Alfred Pennyworth!) can be annoying, after awhile. You don’t want to acknowledge the fact, in comic, as John Byrne did with “The Blonde Phantom” in She-Hulk, I understand. (That was a little funny, but also kind of creepy, too…)
    So, you’re either going to get Sixties style Stasis, where nothing ever changes (which I think is the best available option, despite the obvious difficulties), or you get the “Reboot of the Nanosecond”, where everything is changed, FOREVER, so frequently that the Company has NO Characters left that anyone can recognize…
    The first of the two requires that you hire Editors, give them power to step on writer’s necks when they start going astray, and pay the writers and artists enough that they don’t mind producing “work for hire” characters to add to your intellectual property.
    The second lets you skimp on Editors, ignore complaints from the fanboys about how that’s not the way it was back in Issue #142, cheap out on paying the ‘creative’ help (Sure, Boom might pay you more, but who else is going to let you re-write Batman’s origin?), and devote all their effort into something that actually MAKES money, instead of losing it, like T-Shirts, Movies, and Lunchboxes…

    Which do YOU think Modern Corporate executives are going to go for? Not that I think they’re making the right choice…
    But, then, I don’t like reality TV, either!

  10. Skybandit: reative’ help (Sure, Boom might pay you more, but who els

    You know what I’d love to see a story like that Lois retires Jimmy O’s running the Daily, and S’man must deal with the pathos of NOT growing older!
    Ps~ Reboot all you want, but don’t take it back to the Origin story, Been there done that!

  11. Sorry, wrong quote there, it should have been:
    Superman was born during World War One, so he’s obviously immortal, but Lois should be in her 90′s and Jimmy in his 80′s. LET THEM REST!

  12. Calvary_Red

    Keric: You know what I’d love to see a story like that Lois retires Jimmy O’s running the Daily, and S’man must deal with the pathos of NOT growing older!
    Ps~ Reboot all you want, but don’t take it back to the Originstory, Been there done that!

    Now that you mention it, how has this NOT been a story? At least in an Elseworld or something.

  13. I pretty much mirror the thoughts of most here. Reboots can be good and bad, needed or not necessary. While obviously a cash grab, I do think they serve as a method of getting characters and stories out to new audiences whether it be comics or film.

    I, myself sort of grew up during the beginning of the comic book movie invasion (or so I think). When I was younger there was only really the Keaton Batman and Reeves Superman, but then came Spider-Man, X-Men, et al. and some of their maybe too soon, but still watched and mostly enjoyed reboots. As mainly an X-Men and Batman fan growing up and casual observer of the other heroes, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other various heroes, that I’ve observed from afar, that have come forth into the mainstream (aka outside the comic book world) and seeing them come to life on the big screen–making sure to familiarize myself with character history before the film, knowing creative liberties are and need to be sometimes taken.

    Even if not executed to the best of fanboy standards one has to admit it’s pretty damn cool to see it all come together in real life–rubber nipple and cod pieces aside. All in all I love this stuff, though I’d prefer intros into new characters rather than too soon reboots.