Again…And One More Time
I recently posed a question to my readers via Facebook asking them what topics they would like me to blog about. Of the thousands of requests (okay, just two) that I received, I decided to go with Hollywood’s recent surplus of reboots, rewrites, re-imagined stories (my personal favorite), and updated versions of classic tales.
Two films immediately came to mind: Ghostbusters (2016) and the upcoming Skull Island film featuring Tom Hiddleston of Thor fame. While I don’t know much about the latter just yet, we all know how lukewarm the reception was of the recent paranormal reboot starring Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. I found the film somewhat lacking, and praised Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon for saving the film from being terrible.
But whenever these films popped into my brain, it made me realize something that I’ve always apparently known but never put much thought into over the years:
Hollywood has been rebooting films, franchises, characters, and shows from the beginning.
Think about it. How many films have been produced over the years that either feature the character of King Kong or happen to be spin-offs of the character? Most people recognize and/or remember the classic 1933 film, the 1976 remake featuring Jeff Bridges, and the long, drawn out reboot from Peter Jackson in 2005, but how many of you knew that there have been at least nine major films released featuring King Kong? How many of you knew that Kong was also the inspiration for Mighty Joe Young (which has also been rebooted) and other giant gorilla films? Also, there have been cartoons, books, etc. that keep regurgitating the same general man vs. monster tale over and over and over.
If that doesn’t convince you that Hollywood keeps using the same characters (and stories) over and over, let’s look at just one of the Universal Monsters. The Wolf Man (1941) is my favorite classic horror film. It spawned a number of sequels and wasn’t actually the first film from Universal that featured a werewolf (that would be 1935’s Werewolf Of London). A 2010 remake of the classic was released and starred Benicio del Toro. While I enjoyed the remake, it couldn’t beat the original. Audiences were mixed on the film and a sequel was put to rest.
Prior to this, Universal threw the Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein into 2004’s Van Helsing as an attempt to revive interest in the classic characters. The film was a financial success, but didn’t stick with most audiences. Universal is once again trying to revive their classic monsters in a new shared universe similar to the Marvel cinematic universe that will supposedly start with the release of The Mummy in 2017 (but Universal had shared universes featuring their classic monsters WAY before Marvel ever did). The star of The Mummy (which Universal has already successfully rebooted with four films featuring Brendan Fraser starting in 1999) will be Tom Cruise, who is no stranger to reboots himself. Cruise has been part of the successful Mission: Impossible film series based upon the hit TV series (which itself was rebooted on the small screen) and a remake of the classic War of the Worlds which has been remade multiple times as well.
A number of television shows have been rebooted and/or remade as well. Along with Mission: Impossible, the 1970’s classic Battlestar Galactica was reimagined into a highly successful series in 2004 that lasted for four seasons and spawned Caprica and Blood and Chrome. Knight Rider, The Odd Couple, and even Full House are just a few of the television series that have been revived or rebooted over the years. Heck, I don’t even want to start talking about films that were spawned from classic television shows such as Lost in Space, The Flintstones, and The Twilight Zone.
The Island of Dr. Moreau is another film that was rebooted, albeit with a very, very bizarre take on the H.G. Wells classic. Heck, H.G. Wells’ work alone has spawned multiple remakes and reboots. War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man have all been remade multiple times and have also been used as the basis for other films as well.
Then there are the superheroes. Tons…..of….superheroes. In the last fourteen years there have been three different actors (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland) portraying Spider-Man in six different films. The seventh film is on the way in the near future.
Eric Bana, Edward Norton, and Mark Ruffalo have turned green as the Hulk in four films (a fifth is on the way) since 2003. There have been three Fantastic Four films since 2005 featuring two sets of actors as the first family of comics. Since 1989 (and not including animated stories), Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck have all donned the cape and cowl of Batman, all in stand alone films (excepting Affleck, who shared a title with Henry Cavill’s Superman but, you guessed it, his stand alone film is coming soon).
Hollywood is superhero crazy at the moment, and while the characters may change, the source material doesn’t. I see no end in sight for the multiple comic-based superhero films out there.
In short, there is nothing new under the Hollywood sign. It is, was, and always will be the home of remakes, reboots, rebrands, and re-imaginings. Hollywood has borrowed, stolen, and transferred stories from other films, television, books, and even amusement park rides (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, The Country Bear Jamboree, and Tomorrowland, to name a few).
Reboots are nothing new, and they’ll be here long after I’m gone.
As always, thanks for reading. This is just a small sampling of reboots and remakes. Feel free to add your own to the list in the comments section below.