Spoiler Alert about this post: I understand that it is Valentine’s Day today, but this post is in no way romantic. If you would like to know about our stances on feelings and such, I direct you to the podcast.
There was no more difficult of a time to be a nerd than one’s childhood and teenage years. Enjoying something like Dungeons and Dragons or comic books usually amplifies the awkwardness of making friends, puberty, and finding dates for Junior Prom. Looking with hindsight has led me to believe that high school was the hardest instance of social interaction that I’ve ever experienced. The steady bullying, the struggles with education, and the fact that girls don’t like guys who ask them to go to Homecoming two years in advance is a verifiable melting pot of pubescent failing, and I’m glad to say that I found solace in panels, movies, and books that have recently come into social acceptance.
This enjoyment and fondness is what leads me to be extremely wary of any and all types of reboots.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was excited to see a Robocop reboot. A film that conceptualizes corrupt bureaucracy, failing cities, ultra-violence, and a man whose life was saved by computers and steel to become the ultimate purveyor of justice really appeals to our society on a personal level right now. Also, I just really wanted to see another kid sell drugs to ridiculous 80’s caricatures. But in following the leaked stills, the casting choices, and the overall concept, I was less and less inclined to be excited. And then I found out that it was at a PG-13 rating.
Now I’m just going to wait for Netflix to pick it up in a few months.
A successful reboot is a volatile and tricky thing to be accomplish. It’s a balancing act of appealing to the audience that originally loved the content while trying to draw in a new audience with new and interesting ideas. So, as people who love and enjoy pop culture, we want studios to produce something old and new at the same time. If you think about it, we as nerds are such a fickle audience, it’s no wonder that studios get this wrong more often than not. I mean, if we don’t even know what we want, how are studios supposed to know?
Personally, I think that most studios fail on the “new” side of the balancing act. From what I have seen, it is more important to appeal to the modernity and reflection of present-day at the cost of everything else; plot, character development, and riveting moments of emotion be darned. An example of this would be in the third Spider Man movie: it wasn’t the intent to focus on the complex story someone could tell with a symbiote that literally fed off of your emotions and life force, but there was a huge push to add popular Emo-attitude, and Dancing With The Stars-esque moments for little to no plot reasons. That was painful to remember right now, much less to type.
True to form for any sort of multi-billion dollar industry, older stories are being repackaged into newer incarnations, and we hope beyond hope that it will suck less than we think. But how many times have we been let-down in the past few years? I can’t even tell you how beyond excited I was for Clash of the Titans: all I wanted was some sort of airborne metallic owl fight, a guest appearance for Harry Hamlin, and an amazingly thoughtful Medusa encounter, but what we received was a brooding main character accompanied with a half-cocked subplot of human achievement. “Disappointing” is softest word I can think of for what I felt; it was the biggest word that my five year old self could think of, because I mistakenly went into this film with the same yearning heart and excitement.
This isn’t to completely say that there are no good reboots out there, it’s just to illustrate that more often than not we can rely on on these studios to misunderstand what want as an audience, because we don’t even know what we want ourselves. This is the Law of Reboots that we have to live with for now: for ever Star Trek or Nolanverse Batman, there is a staunch answer in the opposite direction in the form of Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood or Conan the Barbarian. (Sidenote: I really like Jason Momoa as an actor, even before Game of Thrones, and I was really hoping that it turned out well. Spoiler: It didn’t.)
Wariness is something that I despise feeling when I want to enjoy something, but I have to find happiness in the sense that they are at least acknowledging how great and influencing an older, well-told story can be. But here, I swear to the Old Gods and the New: if there is a Rocketeer reboot and there is some sort of staged dance choreography or reference to Flappy Birds, I will not hesitate to hate-view it at midnight.