I recently spent my Thanksgiving break watching the Gilmore Girls revival. Although Gilmore Girls isn’t considered speculative, it got me thinking about the latest wave of revivals and reboots. I was a casual viewer when Gilmore Girls originally aired on the WB from 2000-2007. Even though it was nice to revisit the characters of Stars Hollow, I was suddenly aware of how “out of place” everything felt. Not only was the revival distributed on an online platform that didn’t exist in 2007, many of the actors and actresses had moved on from their characters, and the controversial ending left many fans disappointed. I won’t spoil it, but creator Amy Sherman-Palladino admitted that she originally had this ending in mind for the series finale. Even as a casual fan of the original series, I was disappointed to hear that she wasn’t able to pivot away from a storyline she had originally envisioned almost 10 years ago. Stories and characters can change, but unfortunately, Amy Sherman-Palladino wouldn’t allow them to grow and mature.
The mixed reactions to the Gilmore Girls revival is just one example of “Be careful what you wish for” because sometimes, it might have been better to leave these characters in the past. But more revivals and reboots are heading our way. Blame nostalgia, blame money-hungry studios, but let’s face it, this trend isn’t going away soon.
Over the last few years, there have been some good and bad reboots. Reboots like Total Recall (2012) and RoboCop (2014) didn’t work for me because I felt like their originals were a product of their time, so remaking the movies with better special effects and more action sequences actually hurt the reboots. The 2007, 2014 and 2016 version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles offered CGI versions of the pizza-eating crime fighting turtles. I remember watching the movies from the 1990s as a kid and being fascinated with the puppetry (real actors inside actual turtle suits!!) That’s what made it special.
And who else groaned when Spider-Man was rebooted for what seemed like the millionth time? In 10 years, we’ve seen three different actors play Spider-Man on the big screen. Talk about overkill. And when Shia LeBeouf, the original lead actor of the Transformers franchise, didn’t return after the third movie, they just replaced him with Mark Wahlberg in a rebooted franchise that is now on track for two more sequels. And then there are some rebooted franchises that never should have been touched in the first place (hello, Terminator!) The point is, as long as the movies bring in big bucks, these franchises will probably be around for awhile, no matter who is acting in them or how recycled the storylines are. An aside: The Crow reboot has been languishing for years, and I, for one, am happy about that! As a big fan of the original graphic novel and the 1994 movie, that’s one of my untouchables.
On the other hand, some reboots have been successful. The recent Ghostbusters with an all-female lead cast was a refreshing story idea. It paid homage to the original 1980s franchise, but it breathed new life into it by flipping the gender and therefore, changing the dynamics. It was something different. Same with the rebooted Star Trek movie franchise, where fans of the original got to see Captain James T. Kirk and his crew in an alternate timeline. The Christopher Nolan rebooted Batman franchise also worked for me because it removed the campy storylines seen in the 1960s television show and movies from the 1990s, and changed the tone to something darker and somber. But I do admit, with the recent reboot of Zack Snyder’s Batman (this time with Ben Affleck suiting up), I’m concerned the character will go the way of Spider-Man, where there is reboot after reboot. Will we get tired of seeing another Batman movie? In any case, if you want a successful reboot, make sure you’re adding something original to it, but at the same time, you also have to respect the source material. Yes, fans want to revisit characters, but they don’t want to regret the time they spent with them.
With franchises like Xena, Power Rangers and The Mummy expected to make their comebacks in the near future, there are actually a few reboots I’m excited to see, such as the live-action Beauty and the Beast movie, and the Twin Peaks and Prison Break television revivals.
How about you? Are you tired of seeing reboots? Do you want to see more original content? Or have there actually been some reboots that have worked for you, and why?