There are more ways to make movies nowadays than ever before. New methods of moviemaking are increasing by the year. Think about it. At this rate, we’ll be seeing a dozen movies released in a single week at some point in the future (that’s probably not true but you never know and one can certainly hope…). With this influx of moviemaking possibilities, there is also the fear that we get shortchanged in this unspoken deal with Hollywood. Movie companies are producing more sequels and reboots than ever before, and unfortunately, the majority of them aren’t very good. Okay, they’re bad. A lot of them are bad. It’s gotten to the point where we, the general public, just perceive every reboot and sequel announcement as an announcement of another forthcoming bad movie. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be like this.
So at a moment in which there are more sequels and reboots than ever before, why do some immediately perceive each production announcement as a bad thing? I suppose it is not entirely unjustified. Just look at two of the most disappointing movies of 2013: Man of Steel and Kick-Ass 2. One was a sequel and one was a reboot. Only Man of Steel made its money back at the box office just by cashing in on a longstanding brand legacy. Both were critical flops. Not only that, but who remembers them? Really, ask any of your closest friends or relatives if they watched these movies or if they ever intend to seek them out. Let’s face it, if it wasn’t for DC attempting to compete with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe by throwing Superman vs. Batman at us, Man of Steel would be long forgotten. These movies may have their die-hard fans but they aren’t winning any popularity contests.
Is it too early to presume that general audiences might have become more aware of when to avoid bad movies, or that they have learned to at least let them fade off into nothingness? Just because a movie is a sequel or a reboot doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad; movie goers are smarter than to fall in line with that simplified a line of thought. Come to think of it, is there any better way to contextualize established themes and characters than in sequels? Sequels can provide a new conflict and approach to exploring the key elements in a storyline.
Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a perfect example of being a proper reboot and delivering on all those juicy sequel tidbits. Batman Begins, a reboot, explored a more mature version of the Batman mythos that set the stage for future movies. The Dark Knight, a sequel to a reboot, is part gripping crime drama and social commentary, but pits the mythos and character of Batman established in the first movie against his polar opposite in the form of The Joker. The Dark Knight Rises was the concluding chapter in a trilogy that focused on consequences of previous actions, continues themes of escalation, and legacy. The trilogy covered new territory from previous movies while simultaneously pushing into undiscovered terrain.
Batman is an established character in all mediums of storytelling. Admittedly, the character took a gigantic hit with Joel Schumacher’s comedy masterpiece, Batman and Robin. Batman’s name was tainted until Nolan came to save him from an excess of neon and bat-nipples. If Batman had never been rebooted, the state of the superhero movie genre would be radically different from what we know now. It’s because of Nolan’s fresh and original take that his Batman trilogy will stand the test of time. He wasn’t there to turn in a half-ass a production just so the studio could make some extra cash or maintain rights to a character. Nolan had a vision and he stuck to it.
Before and after Nolan’s Batman trilogy, some of the greatest movies of all-time are sequels and reboots: The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part 2, Scarface, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Aliens, Toy Story 2 & 3, The Departed, Silence of the Lambs, The Fly, True Grit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 2014 alone we had The Raid 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, two of the greatest sequels in their respective genre, possibly of all time. I think you see what I’m getting at here.
Stories have been retold as long as there have been stories. Why should the cinema be any different? We’re not entitled to leaving these stories as is because it makes us more comfortable somehow. We are entitled to the option to decide for ourselves what movies we’d like to see. It’s our duty as moviegoers to avoid giving money to blatant cash grabs. Spend money on movies that bring fresh new approaches to old material so we can keep the creative juices flowing in our local movie theaters. So get out there, ignore that crappy Spider-Man reboot, and wait for someone who gives a damn to make a series worth talking about.