We love to complain about how Hollywood has no good ideas anymore, or about how everything is an uninspired remake or sequel of something else. Yet, Hollywood studios listen, and unfortunately, we speak with our wallets to a much louder degree than with our thoughts and actions. Which is why everything is a sequel these days and why studios increasingly are wary about investing in a new property. Yet, a reboot can be a good thing. For example, in 2004, the last Batman film was Batman & Robin. Batman films were toxic, but in 2005 Batman Begins proved the character still has relevance and can be done right. Similarly, 2006 saw the much needed James Bond reboot after 2002’s off-the-rails Die Another Day. All this is to say that occasionally a reboot is a necessary cleansing rain. Here are our four picks for film franchises that need a clean slate.
The X-Men films are wildly inconsistent. There are the highs such as X2, First Class, and Days of Future Past, and then there are the lows such as Wolverine, The Last Stand, and then there are the films that inspire fans to varying degrees such as X-Men and The Wolverine. There are directors who get the source material such as Bryan Singer and Matthew Vaughn, and then there have been films directed by studio stand-ins. All this has led to no real rhyme or reason for the series.
What’s even crazier is that in 2011 First Class acted as a solid reboot of the series surpassing most expectations. It established a clean break from the previous films and confidently told a different story that ignored any continuity which is perhaps a key reason the film was so good. But in 2014 Days of Future Past saw long-time director Bryan Singer return. His decision to use the DOFP storyline gave him a unique ability to use the reboot cast as well as the original cast simultaneously. This is one of the few times generations can be mixed in a film so effectively, but it also unfortunately undid the clean break that had been established. Now the films exist on one timeline and there are too many plot holes. In addition, the characters are being re-cast again for the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.
Several of the actors contracts are expiring, which means Apocalypse could provide a new turning point for the series again by the time the credits roll. But the mistake will still be that every film exists on one timeline. While time-travel exists in the series, it’d be a far cleaner break to reboot the series from scratch. And if they reboot it successfully they’d be wise to avoid previous mistakes such as one central actor being the focus of what should be an ensemble piece (Jennifer Lawrence, Hugh Jackman) as well as filming the movies back-to-back with an overarching story set from the start. The series is financially viable so there isn’t as much risk to deter that option.
This one hurts me. Terminator 2 is one of the best films of all time, but it was also a high water mark for a series that hasn’t come close since. What hurts this franchise most however is that there hasn’t been any consistent direction or leadership, and it blatantly shows. Part of this comes from the fact that The Terminator in 1984 was nothing more than a wildly successful and popular sci-fi horror B-movie. The reason Arnold is so quiet in the film is because his accent was atrociously unintelligible. When Terminator 2 rolled around everybody had become a better actor; Arnold specifically proved he could act in the right context. But there has always been at least five years between Terminator films since the beginning. The franchise is now over thirty years old and it’s clear that Arnold is a necessary part of the series.
This summer’s latest installment Terminator: Genisys was the worst received of the series yet. That is saying something considering how hated Terminator: Salvation was in 2009. Salvation tried, and failed – at least from a commercial standpoint – to take the series in a different direction. But after the backlash was so harsh, Genisys came along, clearly pandering to everything fans loved about the original by having nighttime warfare, Arnold, and purple lasers. But somehow that film was awful too. In fact, the production company only greenlit it to avoid having the rights revert back to James Cameron in 2020. Genisys was so bad that the planned trilogy is now on ice.
Which is why the right probably should revert, and we should reboot the series from scratch. It is time to leave Arnold behind. He was a great Terminator, but there is a physical limit to what he can bring to the role. Reboot the series with the core elements in play. Nuclear apocalypse, time-travelling robots, and paradox. Once again, if they reboot the series, not unlike my suggestions for X-Men, these films should be planned out from the start so that the time-travel can be consistent and make sense. The earlier films couldn’t work with what had been set up, so the convolution of what was happening only got worse. At this point, I’m unsure if Judgement Day will ever happen. A clean reboot with new actors and a new adaptation of the plot is all that can save humanity at this point.
This one personally hurts me to admit, but I think Sam Mendes has irreversibly screwed up the series. There have been James Bond films since the 1960s, and in retrospect, the brilliance of it all was that they were never beholden to any real continuity. This was back in an era when audiences were surprisingly accepting of multiple actors sharing the same mantle, back before fan theories had to explain why one character changed personalities and physical appearance. (Thanks, the Internet.)
But in 2006, there was a notable change to the series. Casino Royale acting as a reboot also gave us something of a prequel as well showing the origins of Bond. The film, however, maintained some of the disregard for continuity explaining why M would be working with this new 007 even though she had worked with an old one of an entirely different caliber. But when Quantum of Solace came through it was clear the series was going for genuine continuity. After the poor reception of that film, Skyfall gave us another more traditional Bond adventure. But this year’s SPECTRE shoehorned in continuity. But not plot continuity (though it exists) so much as character development continuity. SPOILERS The end of SPECTRE leaves Bond in an emotional state that would make no sense for him to continue unless something major happens-logically the death of his newfound love. Trouble is – this has happened before and it would cheapen the previous film. SPOILERS END.
Daniel Craig may have only one more film in him as Bond. Depending on how the sequel goes, the character will be in an emotionally compromised state and it wouldn’t work for another actor to come in and pick up as if nothing had happened. Which is why the best thing to do now is to once again clean the slate and reboot the series, this time deliberately ignoring continuity. When a new actor takes up the mantle we can keep the existing M, Q, and Moneypenny, just as M was carried over from Brosnan to Craig era. This time around the filmmakers should remember why the films were so long lasting in the first place. A Marvel Cinematic Universe interconnected plotline doesn’t work if it is all focused around one character. More importantly, James Bond was never any kind of destined or chosen one figure as SPECTRE made him out to be. He’s just the best at what he does simply because he is.
To be honest, there is part of me that wonders if the better course of action for Ridley Scott’s beloved sci-fi series would be to stop making films in it altogether. Similar to Terminator, Alien has been a franchise that ascended to greatness in its second outing and has never come close to what made the first two films so solid since. Alien 3 was more interesting due to its behind-the-scenes drama. Alien: Resurrection was one of the most confusing and off-putting films in the franchise, and Prometheus was one of the worst lies to audiences as well as a half-assed prequel/origin story.
The problem with this series is that once again it’s a victim of its own popularity and icon, that the story has since been dragged out and forced to be something more than it ever was. Alien (1979) was nothing more than a haunted house film in space. Aliens logically continued the story but wisely didn’t repeat the first film at all, instead opting for a sci-fi action film instead. But as there were more and more films, the Laurie Strode problem set in, and it became less thrilling or believable that Ripley would survive as long as she did. The tension of her surviving the Xenomorph only can be sustained for so long before it is dull and believable.
What’s worse is that 2012’s Prometheus, which was advertised as NOT AN ALIEN PREQUEL ended up being two films in one: an Alien prequel, as well as a new sci-fi adventure. It is clear that Prometheus started as something else, and couldn’t decide what it was. The result was two half-assed stories, and a lackluster origin story for the hideous xenomorph. But you know what? Nobody needed an Alien origin story. Sure it’s fun to theorize about the ‘Space Jockey’ seen in the first film and to imagine what went wrong before. But unless you are Better Call Saul then your prequel will not deliver a satisfying story.
However, since Alien/Prometheus are clearly still intended to be churned out, possibly as part of a bigger connected universe (rolls eyes) it’s clear they will only cause more problems for any sense of continuity. Prometheus feels like a prequel to Alien, but at the same time feels like a prequel to an entirely different Alien film. It does and doesn’t fit in neatly to the continuity. Hence, the only logical conclusion? Reboot.
But if this series is to be rebooted, they need to pick a direction from the start and run with it. Don’t change your film halfway through writing and retain the pre-existing dialogue. Commit fully to something new, and honestly, I’d focus on Prometheus and not Alien. The Alien films are fine and we don’t need anymore. At least Prometheus gives us a chance for something new. Whatever you do, don’t bring on Damon Lindelof.
Those were our picks for films that needed a kick in the pants to get going again. Did we leave out any you think also deserve the treatment? Let us know in the comments below.