Rebooting a franchise has several very negative and even more immediate connotations to it. People often think about how comic book film franchises are often restarted so that the rights to the films are not defaulted back to their original owners such as with Spiderman and Batman leaving audiences to suffer every few years with a new version of the same story. And I do mean that. They’ve already announced a new Batman film is in the works. Kinda cold there Warner Bros. Kinda cold.
Unless you make Batman Beyond. Then I forgive you.
In most instances of this, it just doesn’t work, especially with film. Reading the same basic plot beats via different interpretations forces the creative team to continually find new ways of enthralling the audience. Otherwise all you’ll have is a group of people comparing your work to a preceding one and judging yours negatively.
Buuuuut…. I can’t just say that the entire idea of rebooting a franchise is bad.
But this is something that has to be done in moderation, not even in moderation but done rarely only to fictional continuities that have existed for years and possibly could do with a good shakedown.
The most famous example of a successful reboot is probably Ultimate Spider-Man. This was part of Marvel comic’s initiative to get in new young readers into their comics by creating a parallel webslinger series that had Spidey as a teenager in the modern era thus modernizing the stories and some of the superhero science within. Its success was so massive that an entire continuity was launched out of it though it’s been in decline in recent years due to Marvel editorial mismanagement. Though if you have the patience I encourage you to take a look at a lot of the older Marvel Ultimate continuity, it’s all quite solid. Except Ultimate X-Men but that’s only because Mark Miller is terrible.
No, you can’t change my opinion on that.
Even more recently, I’ve found myself becoming excited about the new Castlevania games in the revised continuity Lords of Shadow 2 and Mirror of Fate. Being a fan of the franchise I was bored with the idea of the original Lords of Shadow but upon seeing that the Belmont clan would continue and favourites like Simon and Trevor Belmont. If you don’t know in the newest continuity the founder of the Belmont line Gabriel became Dracula by the end of the first game. Despite this, the Belmont lineage continues with his son Trevor who was raised by, basically paladins to destroy his own father. Early promotional information however would reveal that adventure was doomed to fail as Simon’s story (as Trevor’s son) is that at the age of six he’s left for dead among the mountains where a band of barbarian tribesmen find him and train him. I don’t even know how Alucard factors in all of this but I’m damn curious.
For an outsider trying to understand Castlevania a continuity that covers a thousand years of history and over ten games is daunting to enter in. But, if that history came to an end and there was a chance to revive it with memorable heroes getting expanded on and less memorable ones being brought to the forefront, that would be awesome. I mean, really, does anyone know a damn thing about the kind of person the original Simon Belmont was? Sure he dressed like a barbarian but what were his motivations? His fighting style? How did he differ from other Belmonts?
He certainly looks more badass.
Now all it takes is one maybe two games to get into the story and with modern gaming storytelling methods you can have much more rich and interesting versions of classic characters.
Now just imagine some old or long forgotten continuity that you know that really was a good idea but wasn’t properly executed or left abandoned or sits under the weight of years of history. Look at The Batman Animated Series and the corresponding Superman cartoon from the 90s. Those are cartoon reboots of comic history and you can’t say they weren’t amazing.
Because you’d be wrong, so wrong.
So as I said, there is merit to reviving and rebooting a franchise but, care must be taken to ensure that not only is the core material revisited but also the values and ideals within are only expanded upon in a way that preserves and possibly enhances the themes they were trying to present.
And so too does this work exist.