Adaptation is the name of the game in Hollywood these days, and superheroes are at the focus of this trend. With the continued success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Christopher Nolan-produced Batman and Superman flicks, other studios are looking to follow suit. But as Marvel actors such as Robert Downey Jr. look to move on to other projects, will Marvel reboot or continue their universe undisturbed? Will superheroes get the James Bond treatment? Does remaking and rebooting franchises in this way make for good entertainment?
NATHAN: Here’s the main thing about remakes, Nick. Why do we, as an audience, regularly go out to see the same story we’ve already read, seen or heard? Take Batman, for example. If there had never been any Batman reboots, any different takes on the character, we’d still be stuck with the wacky Adam West version of the character. We go to see new takes on the same characters. If there had never been any reboot of the franchise, we wouldn’t have gotten Heath Ledger’s Joker. It just goes to show that characters need to be able to respond to the times and the changing society in which they’re portrayed.
NICK: Well, Nathan, I question whether movies are the right medium for such a reimagining to happen. If a storyline is imminently appealing or endearing to an audience, there will already be a group of people working to preserve that text in some way due to its cultural importance. It is inevitable that some stories will fade away with the times as they lose relevance. That’s why Batman has been with us for so long. We identify with his story of the everyman using his wits to fight back against crime and oppression. “The Dark Knight” was merely a reflection of decades’ worth of character development done throughout the Golden, Silver and Modern age of comics.
Just because there are bad adaptations and reboots doesn’t mean that we should deprive ourselves of the good ones. Take Shakespeare, for example. There have been thousands, if not mil- lions, of Shakespeare adaptations — and most of them were probably bad. But that doesn’t diminish the story, and it doesn’t change the fact that every once in a while an excellent, mind-blowing Shakespeare play or film comes along. Remakes and reboots allow for creative freedom, and they allow — every once in a while — a brand new take on a character we love to completely blow us out of the water.
NICK: Well, as good as some reboots might be, too often does the true meaning of the material get reduced to a watered down version of the original. Movies are meant to appeal to a general audience, so elements of the original story are cannibalized in favor of dumbed-down action, sex and violence. Step back and try to consider the damage a reboot can do to a franchise, scaring away new fans and turning away old ones. Like Galactus from the Marvel universe, reboots may technically have the ability to revive a universe, but what usually happens is these worlds end up devoured.