How many reboots are necessary to either make the billions a studio wants or essentially needs to get it right? It's mostly for the money, but if the movies are great we still benefit from experiencing some of our favorite characters being brought to life.
Very few of the best Comic Book Movies available are all new and original. Thor, Iron Man, Watchmen, V for Vendetta all come to mind. The bulk of what we have is all reborn from the beloved films of yester-year. Some, reborn from the absolute atrocities to the craft of filmmaking they were when we first encountered them to wonderful new portrayals. While some continue the tradition of being atrociously bad. As long as the studio continues to make money, or see's a way to make more money in a retelling, it seems we'll continue to get reboots in one form or another.
Below is a list of a 10 great CBM characters that have been rebooted.
I am fortunate to have grown up viewing all of the different Catwomen. It's hard to pinpoint a personal favorite among the extremely talented woman who've played the role. But whatever your favorite, this has been a coveted and interesting character to see continually modernized and updated into today's CBM climate. With the new Batman making headlines in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and a new reboot for a solo film already in the works, it is easy to expect a new Catwoman purring into action very soon.
Halle Berry unfortunately depicted Catwoman in one of the worst CBM films of all time. It also may have inadvertently caused DC to be fearful of moving forward with their female-led roles, like the long overdue Wonder Woman film. Halle may have attempted to channel Eartha Kitt with a sprinkle of Michelle Pfeiffer and it did not pay off in any form. Julie Newmar is considered by most as the queen of all the Catwomen throughout CBM history, so much so that her successor in the film was intended to be a copy (even if there were other factors to making Lee Meriwether the new Catwoman).
There was also one other actress who played Catwoman, but I'm really not throwing "Mom" in here (from Bird's of Prey).
Tommy Lee Jones can't be completely held at fault for his horrendous portrayal of Harvey Two Face. Consider that Batman Forever was trying to focus itself toward a youthful audience, moving away from the angry parents that protested against Tim Burton's "Dark Knight" version of Batman & Batman Returns. Which was probably mandated by the studio. The result was a performance that took its inspirations from the Batman characters of the sixties. An almost Cesar Romero approach to the villain with some inspiration from how Nicholson took on the Joker. Both the villains in this film were quirky, loud and ridiculous, nearing obnoxious. There was no counterbalance to the personalities. The only one that portrayed himself accurately, even if inspiration was alaso drawn from the 60's was Carrey's Riddler.
Alas, Billy Dee Williams did not ever get to become Two-Face, he was only ever the hero Gotham really needed, but in an understated manner. Billy Dee was the first actor to bring the character to life and did not get a chance to reprise the role in Batman Returns. However, Clint Eastwood was almost Two-Face for the 60's series, but was deemed that the character was too gruesome for audiences of the time. I think Clint would have been the most amazing Two-Face we'd ever seen. Especially considering his voice. but chances are the character would have been played campy. Very Dick Tracy style.
Chris Nolan's take on these villains were with such reference for their backgrounds and giving them so much purpose an gravitas, the function of the roles became pure art on the screen. Aaron Eckhart's performance as Two-Face was exceptional and notably memorable. Unfortunately he was overshadowed by the masterful performance given by Heath Ledger making it difficult to state Eckhart was in a class all his own.
The makeup and effects were fantastic and delivered a nearly perfect representation (nearly perfect because in reality he wouldn't have hair on the burned side, like in the comics). We'll likely see this role reprised in some form in the near future.
Taylor Kitsch somewhat looked the part but was more of a joke in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The direction also had him do things that made no sense. Example, he was on the street floor when Wolverine was knocked out of a bar. After giving Gambit a huge elbow to the face, a few seconds later Wolverine would be engaged against Sabretooth, it's roughly 10-15 seconds before Remy jumps down from the top of a building using his Bo Staff like a Helicopter prop.
Granted we know these are comic book characters, we get the fantasy, but Taylor unfortunately was directed into a role that was destined to be shelved for quite some time.
Seven years later (eventually into the future) enter Channing Tatum. I'm curious when an actual Cajun actor that can speak the lingo and look the part is actually going to be cast. But you know, i'd prefer to see what Mr. Tatum can do before I judge this role. We'll be seeing him in the next 'X' installment X-Men: Apocalypse.
Even though there have been a variety of comic book films over the years by DC and Marvel. Including the great success of the Burton Batman films. Spider-Man exploded Box office numbers in 2002 in such a way that it created the resurgence in Comic Book Movies we enjoy (or bitch and troll about) today.
While I still give the most immediate credit to the "Let's try this again" mentality to Marvel when Blade was released in 1998 and it's sequel Blade II (2002). Spider-Man had already universally changed the face of Comic Book films. It's financial success was historic. While we all loved Tobey Maguire in the role, the studio almost tanked the trilogy (nearly) critically with the third installment. Prompting for the need of a future and properly created Spider-Man Universe-Reboot. Since Marvel is still unable to reclaim the full rights from Sony, Spider-Man will still lack an appearance in the MCU. Especially with The Amazing Spider-Man planned all the way to Part 4 and two spinoff films merging themselves into Sony's Spidey-Verse.
There was also a series on YouTube called the Italian Spider-Man (an Australian Parody of Italian Action Films) which irks me in horrid ways. No one should have needed to see this horribly created series vomited into a lens; and I'm an Indie guy! It exists, it's a horrific parody, take it for what it is, I mentioned it...posterity be damned next time.
Interesting to note, if we want to get technical (when do I get technical...ok, all the time), Danny Seagren has made the most appearances as Spider-Man. Not in terms of years, but in sheer volume. He had over 390 episodes (390!)as the web crawler, in educational skits for PBS in the series The Electric Company, titled the Spidey Super Stories.
TOEI would later produce a live-action series Spider-Man for a Japanese audience. Of course there have been various stunt shows along with stage productions being created over the years. Even one in a Saudi Arabian theme park. One of most note is a multi-million dollar Broadway production, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, which had numerous issues in its infancy, starring Reeve Carney as the web slinger himself.
Of course the Japanese TOEI Production would have Spider-Man using a giant Mecha...Because it's Japanese Spider-Man and Giant Mecha are cool!
Anyone not necessarily a Comic Book fan but loves to watch CBM's (mainstreamers) will easily misunderstand who the Punisher is and how a film should depict him. As is evident by three radically different representations of the character throughout the years as studios keep trying to get it right. Dolph Lundgren played the role like a psychopath, living in filth in the sewers. A decrepit dojo of murder and mayhem.
Thomas Jane played the character with so much human sympathy it was hard to recognize how a man so kind and seemingly capable of loving again would kill so specifically and methodically. The methodic part also made no sense, it was almost Batman-like in planning and scale. Not a trait we're used to seeing in Punisher.
Ray Stevenson took the character into Terminator-mode. A robotic almost assembly-line anesthetic approach that was a massacre every few pages as if the action points on the script were the only items of import on the film. Not to mention showcasing two of the worst played roles among comic book history. The villains in David Hasselhoff's Nick Fury: Agent of Shield were better played, better fleshed out and mroe well rounded. That's saying something. Villains make the hero!
It's no wonder we keep needing a reboot. The last film with Stevenson, is now 114th on the Comic Book Adaptation listing of 131 @ Box Office Mojo and just barely made over 10 Million at the box office. Marvel recently regained their rights to the emotionally scarred, psychotic one-man-army and may be creating a series to tie into the MCU. Let's see what they do.
Thomas Jane completed a short film titled Dirty Laundry reprising the role in an attempt to return to the character. Truly, if Marvel can just combine what we have from all three films, they'll have a masterful portrayal of Punisher to give us.
Even though ordinary in every possible way with the exception of his insanity. He is quite possibly the greatest comic book supervillain of all time. To be honest I was glad Superman ripped out his heart in the Injustice Comics. However he's been played perplexingly well be every actor that has taken the mantle.
None more so than Heath Ledger, to the tune of brining home an Academy Award for the first time in Comic Book Movie History, posthumously at that. It was sad that he passed away, shocking really. But like many other actors that have died before releasing a major film he left behind an amazing performance that reshaped and defined the archetype and the genre for the next generation to reprise the role.
You can easily see, not because it's a costume but because of the actors techniques in the role how completely different Ledger was with his take on the character. A take most of us are thankful to have seen on screen.
Ninja Turtles is an interesting property that has seen a ridiculous variety of reboots, reimaginings, alterations, concerts, stages shows...you name it, it's been done. The commercialism of this property prevents it from ever dying out. It's a fan favorite comic that took a life of its own when it sprung from its pages into animation and then live action.
Everything from adding a female turtle named Venus de Milo, to crossing them over with the Power Rangers. The turtles have been busy throughout the years. Because the bulk of the films and Series have been in costumes, I'm focusing mostly on those films, series and reboots. However, because of the current film being completely motion captured, I'd be remiss if I didn't add comparisons to it by looking at the CGI variations and consider those CGI versions additional reboots as well.
The voices have changed many times over the years but most of us are either attached to the early 80's cartoons or the 90's film voices. The current generation of youngsters are probably more attached to the CGI versions they know and love. A name that comes up often in conversation regarding the turtles is Corey Feldmans. I have to agree he did a great job and is one of the voices I'm personally attached to for Donatello; more recently in the 2012 series he's the voice of Slash.
I have my review
of this film available and it, like others, have been stirring the pot between those who love this film regardless of its flaws and those who hate what has been done to one of their favorite set of comic book characters. Personally for me the voices were stereotypical. Especially for Donatello...my favorite damn turtle. I consider myself a supernerd, geeky and a giant man-child and I sound nothing like the snivelling, snorting, nasally, possibly suffering from allergic 'glub-glub' vocals directed for this character in the film. I took great offense to that. To digress for a moment, I get singled out a lot by random nerds that presume I'm not nerdy enough or geeky enough to be in nerd fandom because I do not look the part. Yet have 100's of times more knowledge for whatever fandom i'm debating with said idiot. These stereotypes need to be eliminated from films. They're not necessary.
The Turtles have definitely changed over the years and the current interpretation while interesting has split the fandom. Me personally I'd prefer the above concept art to what we've seen lately. But Turtles is always going to be milked for audiences based on little kids. Oh commercialism, how you kill my fandom so.
Captain America is an iconic superhero that has been gracing the pages of comic books for over 70 years. He's been in numerous animated features and series to boot. When considering how the character has developed, it is pretty clear that each generation has had an interesting interpretation. But I can easily state (or argue as I'm sure many of you might force me to do so) Chris Evans is the closest to the pages of the comics we've ever received. Matt Salinger being a close second.
Looking at Purcell and Evans side-by-side demonstrates the evolution of the character. distinctive characteristics are always apparent, but Steve Rogers has certainly 'aged' well.
With much of the speculation surrounding the future of the character it is hard to say if Rogers will be killed off in the next installments of the MCU, but the context clues are there. We may be seeing Bucky step into the Captain America shoes if those clues were intentionally left to foreshadow a very sad day. When we see Evans portray the man out of time's death (yet again). How much can my little comic book nerd heart take damn it!
The Hulk has been one of Marvel's trouble children. Not because the films have failed in any form but similar to Punisher, in how to get it done right. Thankfully now with Mark Ruffalo as the puny human holding 'him' at bay, by always being angry, we get a proper Hulk to look forward to for the rest of the MCU. Whether or not we'll be getting another solo Hulk, or possibly a Planet Hulk or World War Hulk film, is up in the air as nothing has been announced.
To be completely accurate the 2008 The Incredible Hulk film is part of the MCU and Ruffalo isn't really a rebooted Hulk from that film, more like a recast. Similarly to the Terrence Howard and Don Cheadle recast for Iron Man 2.
I, like many CBM fans, enjoyed the 2003 Hulk but there were a lot of "WTF" moments that really made no sense. I also think the film was Ang Lee's personal views on putting a large amount of Hulk's abilities on display. To a degree trying to answer the question, "How big would he get if he keeps getting pissed?"
...While the story, the father, the ending and the awkward exaggerated display of powers were flawed, it was still a cool movie to watch, especially since the only live-action Hulk-love fans had at that point was solely from the 70's Lou Ferrigno version. Thankfully Hulk is in a renaissance as the MCU continues to unfold. We'll be seeing more of him next year in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.
The Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four is Marvels answer (was) to the Justice League and while its popularity has spanned the comics it's film popularity has never really been as strong. The 2005 film is arguably a reboot of the Ashcan copy
that was made in 1994. Made solely to maintain the rights to the comic book property. Marvel would later buy the film to retain the rights.
While the 2005 film was successful financially, it was not well received by critics nor by the fandom. The only defining factor would be Chris Evans' performance as Johnny Storm. The film had a sequel that received heavy buzz due to the addition of the Silver Surfer. Technically speaking, aside from characters like Thor or the Hulk, the Silver Surfer is quite possibly the most powerful hero we've seen on screen next to Superman and he was so poorly done it was laughable (I was butthurt over it), especially when considering that in a live incarnation setting - It's highly doubtful (unbelievable really) that the Fantastic Four would ever defeat, let alone capture him. Enter crappy state of plot writing. Throw in a cloud of smoke representing Galactus. There you have it, the Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
film. It's no wonder the fandom hated these films.
The 1994 film would never see the light of day, or so the production house Constantin Films thought. It is widely viewed as a treasured bootleg today and can be seen at various conventions for various purposes. Most of which are in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 setting. Sadly, this was the first time anyone would carry the mantle of one of Marvel's greatest families on film and it was a pitiful outing at best. Whether you choose to agree it exists or not, it's out there. Go to any local comic-con and try to find a copy for yourself. It's worth the laughs to watch with friends over some beers and a game of Betrayal at the House on Haunted Hill.
The 2015 Fantastic Four reboot has a large amount of comic book based controversy and fan-rage. From the highly questionable castings to the questionable viability of the films reboot. There is also (audaciously) a sequel announced with a release date in 2017. While we can't truly judge whether this film will be great or whether it will be horrid. We can definitely talk (bitch) about it online.
Quite possibly one of the most iconic superheroes of all-time. There is something about big blue that inspires so much in us, even though we realize he is a complete fiction, an ideal, a fabrication to entertain young minds. I doubt Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster ever imagined this character would be one of the greatest comic book characters ever created, if not the greatest ever created.
Thankfully as a comic book character he exists as one of the greatest, because many of his films have let the legacy down. Christopher Reeve is hailed as the greatest Superman and the benchmark for all others, but he too suffered two awful films with two of the worst comic book movie villains ever created. Both with stupid interpretations of beloved characters.
Routh had an interesting but almost Ang Lee style (a-la-Hulk) turn at the helm as the eponymous character. But would ultimately fail at living up to the icon that Reeve's had built.
If you grew up in the 90's you may have been a fan of Lois and Clark which had a variety of differences to the source material but was entertaining, bright, and showcased quite a few of Superman's standard and arch villains. Which also made Dean Cain a sex symbol to hormonally charged teenage girls and almost a permanent fixture at Seventeen magazine for a time.
Most of the same folks that grew up on Lois and Clark will have undoubtedly watched Smallville, which became the gold standard for how DC will attempts to run most of its properties on primetime networks, like Arrow, Flash and now the upcoming Gotham. While the show barely ever had Welling don the Cape it had many subtle ways to give the audience what it wanted. Even if the general fights in the series ended anti-climactically (Doomsday for one...*meh, grumble*)
Henry Cavill is now at the helm of the Superman universe and with Man of Steel being such a success he will continue on to build the DC Universe centering around himself as Superman along with Batman and Wonder Woman. His suit is almost the most radical change to the costume since the earliest incarnations of the character have existed. It's hard to call him Big Blue in Man of Steel as the color palette took on more of a realistic and dark color scheme, abandoning the ultra bright colors of the golden age comics. I tend to prefer this underwear-inside look...to be honest. The only real disadvantage Cavill has over all the others is he is shorter than virtually every other actor that could have been cast as Batman. Superman is supposed to be roughly 1 inch taller at about 6'3", even though he's 6'1"!
Routh I enjoyed as Superman, because the film portrayed a variety of Super-heroics (harking back to the Christopher Reeve age) however it was an awkward showcase of powers that we hadn't seen him use. It also broke an enormous amount of continuity. The biggest issue of the many plot-holes present was the fact that this film essentially intended to erase Superman III and IV ever having existed. Which meant this was intended to be a continuation of Superman II...Because Superman had sex with Lois in II, Fights and defeats Kryptonians...then later kisses Lois to forgot everything that happened...decides to go to the scene of his planets explosion to investigate (In Superman Returns). As the title implies he then 'Returns', five years later. When he first encounters Lois, her first words should be something to the tune of "So...when did you rape me? I don't remember us having sex and this is your kid."
Kirk Alyn was the first man to ever make us believe a man could fly, inspiring an entire generation of children that anything was possible. George Reeves hated the fact this role is what his career needed and he ended up getting typecast for it. He ended up dying mysteriously. A film titled Hollywoodland showcases this story and a theory for his untimely death and is aptly played by Ben Affleck, who also dons the cape and the 'S'.
Batman...next to Superman the most well known comic book superhero of all time. You can say Batman in the middle of the jungle in Africa upon discovering a yet-to-be-known tribe and they'll know who Batman is. That is how powerful and enduring this comic book has become.
One of the most memorable renditions, although not the first, is Adam West. He's become so popular and iconic due to this role. Even though he distanced himself from it during the 70's because of the way Hollywood tends to typecast actors. He enjoys a resurgence of his portrayal of Batman now and in a variety of spoof based material.
During the 70's when Adam West wanted nothing to do with Batman, Dick took over for a string of PSA's while Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig reprised their roles as Robin and Batgirl, respectively. Depending on the photo and the slight variation of the suit, its hard to tell sometimes if you are looking at Adam or Dick.
The late 80's gave birth to the next generation of Batmen, one of which is still arguably the best portrayal of Bruce Wayne to date. Micheal Keaton faced almost the exact same scrutiny and fan-rage as Affleck has when he was announced...and in 1989 it wasn't as easy to be heard!
After Burton's "Dark" knight completed its sequel, mothers everywhere protested at how dark the character had become and almost rioted outside of theaters. Joel Schumacher came in and completely changed the color palette, made it brighter, campier. Took a Dick Tracy-esque style of filming and applied Batman to this construct. What resulted is some of the worst and awkward portrayals of not only Batman but of some of our favorite villains. Save one, The Riddler. Played nearly to perfection by Jim Carry.
George Clooney's portrayal would mark the end of Joel Schumachers reign of terror on our beloved comic book hero, but would also mark one of the worst villains we'd ever see on screen played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Both films were still financially successful and sold toys by the tonnage. But most will agree that Batman and Robin is the worst Batfilm ever recorded. More so than the cheese-fest of the 60's batman film.
Chris Nolan many years later would create what felt like a real-world definitive Batman film. a trilogy that is regarded by many to be a masterpiece and the springboard Warner Bros. / DC would use to propel them forward toward pulling the trigger on a combined DC Universe. A trigger that was delayed with the failure of the Green Lantern film. Happily The Dark Knight Rises & Man of Steel would correct this error and continue moving DC forward toward a Justice League film and of course toward Rebooting Batman yet again.
This year we see an almost Smallville-like treatment being given to everyone's favorite caped crusader with the release of the series Gotham. although the series will center around Gordon and the murder of Bruce's parents. The series is touted to end with Bruce becoming the Dark Knight.
While most of us know about Adam West, many of us might not realize he was not the first to don the cape and cowl. Lewis Wilson was the first Batman on the silver screen in the 1943 serials. Followed by Robert Lowery in the Batman and Robin serial.
With 10 rebooted series, films and actors in the role, Batman might just be the most rebooted series in comic book history. Not counting animated films & series, radio, stage & musicals. It's safe to say that Batman will continue to grace our screens for many years to come.
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