Hello, class! While Professor Sean has taught the fundamentals on How to Sequel, Reboot, Remake, and many other such topics of cinematic continuity, as your substitute I am here to teach you about a new off-the-books type of franchise film that has recently developed in the past couple of years: The Reset.
A Reset is whenever a certain film in a given genre franchise comes around to the point where that said franchise has had a bad streak of movies. The Reset usually features a character or a group of characters who are then tasked with going back in time in order to stop all of the events of the previous films from ever occuring. Thus, the series is able to start fresh and with a clean slate, with the previous films retaining their pre-attributed canonization. Sound familiar? You probably remember this happening in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, or just last summer in X-Men: Days of Future Past; and of course, this is also the plot synopsis of the still current Terminator Genisys.
To understand how to reset a franchise, we first need to discuss which franchises can be reset in the first place. All films can be remade, and all series can be rebooted, but only a few series can be reset. Obviously, only genre films and franchises can be appropriately reset, because unless you’re a 21 Jump Street, such a creative decision will come out of left field.
Secondly, you may have had to establish time travel as an aspect in your cinematic universe prior to the film, so that it, again, doesn’t come out of left field. Star Trek and Terminator Genisys pass these requirements, while X-Men just kinda hastily introduces time travel, and builds the rest of the film around it (I will give it a pass though, because it was a pretty decent film, and utilized the genre trope to its fullest capacity).
Speaking of X-Men, Bryan Singer asked James Cameron himself for some tips on time travel, and his simple, yet incredibly important advice, was to first establish a set of clearly defined rules. Time travel is a tricky aspect in any form of literature and media, as there are so many different interpretations of it, which is exactly why filmmakers need to establish their own set of rules to convey to the audience, and then move forward from there. There shouldn’t be any contradictions, because then filmmakers runs the risk of losing their audience to narrative confusion. Basically, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the time.
In reviewing the past, and looking forward to the future, there are a number of franchises that have the possibility of being reset; Planet of the Apes, Back to the Future, and even Harry Potter. However, I wouldn’t want to see any of those because of our final rule: Don’t do an unnecessary reset. It should go without saying, but resets should only be applied to franchises that were once good and or still have the possibility of being good. This seems to be what Neill Blomkamp is doing with the Alien series, and rumors suggest that this is what the new Transformers writing team is doing for that franchise, as well.
Well, there it is, folks. Your impromptu course on How to Reset a Franchise. Just remember that the future isn’t written, and, apparently, the past can be rewritten.