Are Reboots Dead on Arrival?

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.

Spider-Man reboots

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.

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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?

13 Comments

  • steelvictory December 15, 2016 at 8:40 am

    On the other hand, sometimes terrible reboots are a blessing in disguise. Stargate is apparently not going to get a reboot because of how terrible Independence Day: Resurgence was, and I AM TOTALLY OKAY WITH THAT.

    Reply
    • Shara White December 15, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      My husband saw that movie, and he said it was absolutely a waste of time. The only thing I kept asking myself is why the sequel was even remotely necessary? Maybe a few years after the original came out, but now? WHY GOD WHY?

      Reply
  • maggiedellarocca December 15, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I am excited to see a Xena reboot although I have no confidence that I will love it when it arrives. I usually find reboots disappointing but once in awhile, prefer the reboot when I can just forget the original. Planet of the Apes comes to mind. I am super-tired of super heroes and prefer the minor character stories (Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool, Dr. Strange, Daredevil). The latest Star Wars movie doesn’t excite me and could be the first one I miss.

    Reply
    • Shara White December 15, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      You’ll have to check out our upcoming Sound Off on Rogue One to decide if it’s worth your time or not! 🙂

      Reply
  • Shara White December 15, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    I think Nu hit the nail on the head: why is the revival or reboot being made? Are you telling the story from a new angle or point-of-view (Westworld and Hannibal (television), or is it an obvious cash-grab to keep the rights from turning over to their original owners (OMG Spider-Man), OR is Hollywood banking on nostalgia? One thing that I notice is that when the people who loved certain properties are old enough to be making their own money, stuff from their childhoods start showing up again in movies, television shows, comics, etc. Take Jem and the Holograms, for instance. I hear the movie was terrible, but the comic book series has been gold.

    There’s also something to be said for bringing new fans to a long-running property (Star Trek, Star Wars, though the latter I don’t see as a reboot or revival) and expanding the fandom that way!

    Reply
  • nuyangwriter December 15, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    A Facebook friend reminded me about the Battlestar Galactica television reboot (2004-2009), which I failed to mention in my post! I consider that a successful one because it changed the tone, reimagined a few of the original characters (originally men, Starbuck and Boomer became female characters), and expanded the storylines to fit with current themes.

    Reply
    • Shara White December 15, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      That should definitely go in the win column!!!!

      Reply
  • Ron Edison December 15, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    You only get one chance to make a first impression. BSG is a notable exception, reimagining itself from a lame kids’ show (that I refused to watch) to serious adult drama. A reboot has a lot to live up to (or make up for). Most turn out off, like something resurrected from Pet Sematary (e.g. Gilmore Girls). Dennis Lehane said that a good crime series has a lifespan of four or five books. After that, readers know all there is to know about a protagonist, there are no more surprises. It becomes a soap opera. Readers come back just for the comfort of visiting an old friend rather than chancing a read on something completely new. I was just thinking the other day that if Buffy hadn’t been canceled it would be about to enter its twentieth season. How would it fare? As much as I hated to see it go I doubt it could succeed in a revival.

    Reply
    • Shara White December 15, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      Buffy is still going strong in the comics, not that I read them.

      However, your comments about soap opera is very well-taken. I started feeling that fatigue with the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels even back before Disney bought the franchise and started changing shit up. That being said, with the launch of the new movies, the books I enjoy reading most in the franchise are those that don’t feature the well-known characters I already love. I’ve read those stories. I don’t need more. I want to learn more about people I don’t know living in the universe I do know.

      So none of this relates to reboots or revivals so much as I feel it embraces your point.

      Reply
      • Nancy O'Toole Meservier December 16, 2016 at 7:40 am

        I read the Buffy comics, and they’re fine, albeit not on the same level as the TV show was. Great art though.

        It’s also worth mentioning that the comic just entered season 11 though, not season 20. Maybe it’s a good thing that comics don’t move as fast as the TV show. I agree that there’s a natural lifespan to things, and there’s really so much you can push before things just get stale.

        I can’t imagine a “Year in the Life”- style Buffy revival though. There would be so much to take into consideration- especially when it comes to characters that aren’t supposed to age. Also, the comics from season 8 onward have been considered canon. Would a TV revival take that cannon into consideration?

        And a full on reboot would just be NO.

        Reply
        • Shara White December 16, 2016 at 8:17 am

          That’s an interesting point, because before Disney bought Star Wars, I’m pretty sure the Expanded Universe novels (and at least some comics) were considered canon. Even George Lucas himself went to the books for settings when he wrote the prequel trilogy!

          But canon can always be blasted away, depending on what the powers-that-be are trying to do. Buffy brings up some unique challenges, like you said, with characters that never age.

          Reply
  • Kelly McCarty December 17, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Reboots are a delicate thing. I’m looking forward to Emerald City and the new Beauty and the Beast. In Emerald City’s case, it looks like they’re going in a much darker, more adult direction than the original Wizard of Oz. In the case of Beauty and the Beast, it seems very close to the original but it’s live-action and I feel like enough time has passed.

    I remember reading that Heath Ledger was in a dark place after playing the Joker and thinking, “What?” because the Batman movies when I was younger were very much kids’ movies. Christopher Nolan did something very different with his movies being a sort of allegory for terrorism. I feel like his is the definitive take on Batman and we don’t need to see another Batman movie for a long while.

    Reply
  • Carey Ballard December 20, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Nu, I have enjoyed all of your posts because you say a lot of what I’m thinking.

    I’m tired of reboots and/or origin stories (pllllllease no more Spiderman), although I do like stories about minor characters, like Maggie mentioned above–Deadpool and so on. I read somewhere that most of the (good) movies made this year were not Hollywood deals; they were independent films. So I feel as though Hollywood is filling the void with reboots, and I wish they’d stop or at least slow down.

    I do find it interesting when a movie franchise expands to television (Fargo; The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Emerald City, etc). There’s more room to develop characters & plotlines if done well (unfortunately Tin Man had lots of imagination and potential that got squandered).

    And yes, despite everything I just said, I’m planning on seeing Power Rangers.

    Reply

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