Now that pictures are coming in from Sony’s Spider-Man reboot, it’s time to admit that it might actually have been a good idea. Sam Raimi’s original trilogy was collapsing under its own weight, and rethinking the film series from the ground up with director Marc Webb, who proved he understands the twenty-something generation better than just about anybody with (500) Days of Summer, is looking like a better idea each and every day. Reboots are all the rage now, with studios seeking to not just remake their movies but revitalize whole franchises with fresh new directions. Some of them will suck, but really, they’re not necessarily a bad idea. Star Trek, Casino Royale and Batman Begins certainly proved that.
With that in mind, CRAVE Online presents our Top 10 Franchise Reboots We Actually WANT. These are the franchises that should be dominating the box office but either never quite got off the ground, fell into ruin or just plain never got it right. These are the franchises we want back.
WHY REBOOT IT: The original Tarzan movie series with Johnny Weismuller was one of the great original movie franchises. Tarzan The Ape Man and its first sequel Tarzan And His Mate are both classic films that hold up remarkably well today. They took the source material seriously and presented Jane as a strong, sexually empowered heroine long before it was fashionable. (Actually, we guess it’s still not fashionable. Think about that. That’s sad.) The action still holds up today – since you can tell they actually did the stunts on camera – and although racist undertones were evident they were merely a product of their time. In the last 70 years, however, one of the most iconic characters in literary history has been reduced to forgettable Disney musicals and even more forgettable movie reboots with Casper Van Dien.
WHAT WE’D DO: It’s time to take Tarzan seriously again, focus on the old school adventure and really get into the head of a man who was raised in the wild and viewed the Western world with a primal eye. Get The Road Warrior’s George Miller back in action to direct, and groom a new, hunky star to break out as the wild man every woman wants to teach about the ways of romance. Make sure to set it 100 years ago, when the plot was still vaguely plausible and imperialism was still going strong, and don’t bother bringing The Ape Man back to the civilized world. He belongs in the land of high adventure, not the land of bad fish out of water jokes.
WHY REBOOT IT: Because the original film is an incredibly dated product of the 1980’s, and presented a mythology that makes no sense upon close examination. A race of immortals who can only be killed if you cut off their head, who swordfight to the death until only one is left to receive the ultimate prize. Okay, but the exact nature of the prize was never clear, and considering that these people generally only die in swordfights you’d think they’d spend their hundreds if not thousands of years getting spectacularly good at it, not lumbering around like they only picked up a blade a few weeks ago.
WHAT WE’D DO: This one’s actually in development now, but with no director yet attached the direction for the franchise remains up in the air. We suggest going back to the original film, cutting back and forth throughout the centuries as we watch The Kurgen (Undisputed III’s Scott Adkins) become the deadliest immortal in history. Only Connor McCloud (Kevin Kidd’s supposedly being considered; we’re fine with that) has a chance to defeat him, but has retreated from the fighting after losing his wife to the undying serial killer. Make it clear that every time you kill an immortal your strength actually increases – by now The Kurgen is superhumanly strong and fast and has god knows what other abilities – to make Connor the underdog. Oh yeah, and don’t make Connor “The Only One” at the end of the film. We actually want sequels that make sense this time.
WHY REBOOT IT: Because this cash cow has never been accessible to new fans. The many feature films – some of which even had a very successful theatrical release – have catered to the existing demographic but are completely impenetrable to casual audiences. What are Pokemon? What’s at stake in the Pokemon competitions? What kind of lifestyle to Pokemon trainers actually have, and what is the appeal of enslaving animals to do your fighting for you?
WHAT WE’D DO: Actually tell a damned story this time. Introduce the world of Pokemon properly and try to actually sell audiences on why they should care. Ash Ketchum (whatever young teen star is popular these days) wants to turn the brutal world of Pokemon training around by actually caring for these creatures and treating them with respect. He’ll have to defeat the sinister Team Rocket (other teen stars) in a top-flight Pokemon championship to prove his point and turn the sport around. Make it live-action, and get Gore Verbinski to direct. After Pirates of the Caribbean he’s proved he can take a concept with no obvious story and make a successful, involving and most importantly entertaining franchise.
7. MARY POPPINS
WHY REBOOT IT: Going back to the original source material is very popular these days, and Disney’s original, still-popular Mary Poppins had no respect whatsoever for the book on which it was based. Mary Poppins’s creator P.L. Travers reportedly left the premiere in tears after seeing her stern, culturally appropriate British nanny turned into a saccharine songstress, and strongly objected to the film’s anti-feminist ending in which Mrs. Banks abandoned the Women’s Suffrage movement to be a housewife.
WHAT WE’D DO: Travers’s books carefully balanced Mary Poppins’ conflict between living in a genuine fantasy world and raising the Banks children to become proper, respectful and well-behaved adults. That conflict would be beautifully illustrated by Alfonso Cuaron, who previously navigated the world of dark children’s filmmaking with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and the still underseen classic The Little Princess. The world of the fantastic need not be a sugary sweet escape from reality. A new Mary Poppins could simply make it a reality, one that needs to be dealt with and learned from like any other, without sacrificing entertainment value but without distraction by musical numbers (catchy though they may be). And with each of the books containing scores of Mary Poppins stories, there’s no reason why the reboot couldn’t spawn a whole franchise of family classics.
6. SCOOBY DOO
WHY REBOOT IT: Because the Scooby Doo movies these days, be they theatrically released live-action features or animated home video releases, have abandoned the original series’ secular intentions. Every Saturday morning, Scooby Doo took scary monsters and revealed them for who they are: real people with bad intentions. There weren’t originally any actual monsters in Scooby Doo, and the Scooby Gang spent their lives proving that on a weekly basis. In the new movies, monsters are real and completely ridiculous. Also, almost all of the new movies totally suck.
WHAT WE’D DO: Believe it or not, you can take Scooby Doo a little seriously. Honestly, that dog may not even need to talk. He could be the group’s mascot and Shaggy’s best friend, who provides a heart to the team but whose cowardice (it’s just a dog, all right?) places them in turmoil when one of the monsters they’re out to debunk – maybe they’re like a modern Mythbusters or Ghosthunters – becomes a greater threat than they’ve faced before. In the end children will actually learn a valuable lesson: that monsters aren’t real, but bad people can be stopped through reasoned deduction and good natures.
WHY REBOOT IT: Because the movie version of Daredevil was really pretty bad. Not as bad as Ghost Rider, necessarily, but Daredevil actually has a compelling hook: a lawyer who takes the law into his own hands when the system fails. There’s no reason why it had to suck, but suck it did, immediately dating itself with a silly popular music soundtrack and over the top action sequences that betrayed the original, street level concept behind the character.
WHAT WE’D DO: Make it a TV series. You can’t claim that there’s no market for a show about a lawyer with a twist, and the lower budget will keep Daredevil grounded in a way that a big budget just doesn’t seem to encourage. Every week Matt Murdock (by the time this thing gets made Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki should be available) takes on a new case and has to suit up to see that justice is truly served. Incorporate Marvel’s smaller characters – the ones that will never get their own movie, like The Daughters of the Dragon and a pre-She Hulk Jennifer Walters as an opposing attorney – to flesh out the cast, and limit yourself to relatively minor supervillains like The Owl and The Purple Man as recurring antagonists. Oh, and while you’re at it get Supernatural’s Eric Kripke to run the show. He knows how to balance action, humor and drama in live-action television like no one else.
4. THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
WHY REBOOT IT: Did you see the movie they made out of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Apparently someone in Hollywood thought that Alan Moore was a hack and needed to have his brilliant original graphic novel – full of action sequences and distinct, memorable characters – replotted for a ten year old audience (who won’t know who these characters are and sure as hell won’t want to find out after they were portrayed this pathetically), and force an American character – Tom Sawyer, of all people – into a narrative that’s distinctly British. If the Harry Potter movies have proven anything it’s that Americans aren’t turned off by British culture, and don’t need a Yankee surrogate to care about the story.
WHAT WE’D DO: Actually adapt the damned graphic novel this time. Seriously, have you ever read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? It’s full of rooftop chases, sky battles and plenty of other memorable sequences that are perfectly suited to mainstream entertainment, and better yet it’s filled with complex characters that any actor would kill to play on screen. Get Peter Jackson to direct or at least produce the reboot, since he’s proven that he can take something “literary” and make it appealingly – and profitably – cinematic while still preserving all the qualities that made it worth adapting in the first place.
3. RESIDENT EVIL
WHY REBOOT IT: Because the current movie franchise – though quite profitable – is really, really, really bad. Oh sure, the first one wasn’t completely awful, and the third one actually had its moments too, but none of them have ever captured the lunatic joy of the original game series, and they’ve sure as hell never captured the horror. The Resident Evil movies keep taking elements from the source material and just throwing them into a generic, over the top action fantasy franchise that demonstrates no real fealty whatsoever to the games that inspired them.
WHAT WE’D DO: All right, let’s not pretend that the Resident Evil games aren’t ridiculous. The plots are paper thin and practically stream of conscious in their ADD “throw the kitchen sink out there” kind of way, but for a movie series based on a game that came to personify the “Survival Horror” genre – for better or worse – there sure ain’t a lot of horror. Get Freddy Vs. Jason director Ronny Yu to spearhead a page one reboot, since he’s shown you can create a stylish, action-packed and actually kind of scary movie packed with fan service which works surprisingly well as its own film, as opposed to Paul W.S. Anderson’s annoying tendency to do whatever he wants and throw in just enough plot points and characters from the source to keep the fans placated, instead of happy.
2. STREET FIGHTER
WHY REBOOT IT: Have you ever noticed that neither of the attempts to turn this game into a feature film – Street Fighter: The Movie and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li – have ever been about an actual fighting tournament? Maybe they should have, because they’re just awful. Street Fighter: The Movie was so childish that it might as well have been made by Syd & Marty Krofft, and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li’s attempts to make the series “gritty” by showing M. Bison give his own wife a C-Section with his bare hands in a cave so he could put the good part of his soul into his infant daughter (or something) were laughable. At least they both boasted legendarily weird performances, with Raul Julia brilliantly camping it up in the first film and Chris Klein less-than-brilliantly camping it up in the second.
WHAT WE’D DO: Ahem… Make it about a fighting tournament. There’s nothing uncinematic about a fighting tournament. What’s your damned problem? Enter The Dragon and Bloodsport were great action movies that took disparate characters with interesting motivations and personalities and pitted them against each other in exceptional displays of physical prowess. Nobody’s going to see a Street Fighter movie for the stars, either, so just hire actors who know what they’re doing and make the movie’s intrinsic awesomeness the selling point. While we’re dreaming, get Quentin Tarantino to direct. It’s not that much of a stretch, since he’s reportedly expressed interest in directing other pulpy franchises like Friday The 13th in the past. If anyone can make a kooky cast of over the top characters fighting each other into an excellent movie without being ashamed of the concept, it’s definitely QT.
1. THE FANTASTIC FOUR
WHY REBOOT IT: Once again, because all of the original movies were bad. But they weren’t just bad, they completely ignored most of the things that made The Fantastic Four so great in the first place. Tim Story’s films made an attempt to capture the unique team dynamic – and the second one in particular did a fairly good job with The Thing and Johnny Storm, if we’re being fair – but for the most part they were horribly miscast and failed to turn the greatest supervillain ever created, Doctor Doom, into the iconic movie badass he should have been. The spirit of exploration, of scientific discovery and the belief that the impossible isn’t just possible but glorious never made it onto the screen, and the disappointment was palpable. The franchise never found its footing because it never made the effort to give us the Fantastic Four we always wanted to see.
WHAT WE’D DO: Give it J.J. Abrams. If there’s one director/producer out there who understands the value of an ensemble cast and has proven capable of marrying it to ambitious, clever and blockbusting adventure it’s the man who brought us the Star Trek reboot. Let him cast whoever he wants, let him write it however he wants, and let him show us why the Fantastic Four used to be called “The World’s Greatest Heroes” without anyone ever raising an eyebrow. The Fantastic Four put Marvel on the map, and there’s no reason why the movie franchise can’t raise the bar for action, adventure, science fiction and superhero movies alike.