People have been complaining, and rightly so, about Warner adding Batman to the upcoming and most likely terrible sequel to Man of Steel. Yes, it seems like they are trying to lead up to a Justice League movie too quickly, doing in two movies what took Marvel five. Yes, Batman being rebooted again not even two years after his last movie is as creatively bankrupt as creative Lehman Brothers, regardless of whether Bennifer Batfleck has the chops to play the role (he couldn’t be worse than Clooney, right? RIGHT?).

I dispute none of this. But my question is this: in an era of creative bankruptcy and a Hollywood studio system that seems more anxious to make explosions that play well in Guangzhou than anything worth watching, why is it that the tag-team brands that are revived are always the most stale and predictable ones?

I guess what I’m saying is: Hollywood, Robocop vs. Terminator has been a thing since 1992. The last Terminator failed. The godawful Robocop remake failed. What’s it going to take to get Original Robocop pitted against Original Terminator? Peter Weller and Arnold Schwarzenegger are game and the fans would lap it up.

Do that, Hollywood, and we’ll give you a pass for Zack Snyder Presents: Half-Assed Justice League. Maybe.

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In 2006, the average amount of time between the last entry in a film series and its next remake or reboot was 9 years, as exemplified by the 9-year gap between “Batman and Robin” and “Batman Begins.” By 2012 that gap had shrunk to 5 years, as we can see from the refraction period between “Spider-Man 3” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.” With studios gearing up to reboot Batman for inclusion in the Man of Steel sequel (said Man being a reboot itself) in 2016, only 4 years after his last screen appearance in “The Dark Knight Rises,” we can now see a definite trend.

With this in mind, here is a mathematical predictive model of when the following movies will be rebooted, based on how long it took a movie to get regurgitated in the year of its release:

Avatar – 2017
20th Century Fox will be pleased to announce a gritty new take on the tale called The Avatar. Since audiences are too savvy for something as escapist and unrealistic as humans soldiers in alien bodies, this fresh and hip new imagining will feature burned-out inner city cops in gorilla bodies, with gorilla warfare to follow.

Toy Story – 2016
Disney/Pixar, proudly bereft of artistic integrity ever since making Cars 2 in exchange for $500 million in toy merchandising rights, is already in scripting stages for a gritty new direction for this beloved franchise. Filmed in live-action, since modern audiences see through the artifice of unbelievable computer graphics, the new film will be a post-apocalyptic tale of redemption from the point of view of charred, inanimate objects. Look for TOY in summer 2016!

Harry Potter – 2015
With The Incredible Harry Potter, coming next year from Warner Bros., filmmakers go back to the basics, to the dark, gritty feel of the original books. Moviegoers these days will see right through any attempt to convey “magic;” this fresh new take sees Harry enrolled in a school for assassins and martial artists who kill from the shadows to maintain the balance of world power. The studio has strong franchise hopes for the film, and has begun casting for the part of ruthless military dictator Lord Voldemort, who Harry will assassinate in the second film of a projected nine-picture deal.

The Avengers – 2014
Coming this year to theaters, Marvel’s Avengers reboot, titled Avengers (not the lack of the “the”), will be a gritty tale of a younger, hungrier band of superheroes before they rose to prominence less than two years ago. Making concessions to today’s theatergoers, who are too intelligent to buy into ridiculous concepts like armored attack suits or thunder gods, Avengers will focus instead on the relationship between tank pilot Stark, electrician Thor, mental patient and former WWE wrestler Hulk, alongside dark and realistic young versions of all your favorites. Sources confirm that such grit and realism don’t come cheap, and the pic is budgeted at $100,000,000,000.

The Hunger Games – 2013
In a bold decision, Lionsgate bowed to the inevitable and rebooted the critical and popular darling The Hunger Games before the series had even finished its projected four-film run. In stark contrast to the lighthearted and campy tone from the original series, something increasingly rejected by the savvy moviewatching public, last year’s reboot Hunger Begins was dark and gritty, a bleak vision of the future. A sequel to the reboot is currently scheduled for release in 2012; Lionsgate is apparently not concerned that this will somehow draw viewers away from the original Hunger Games, also released in 2012.

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Hollywood loves its trends. From 3D circa 1955 (or 1983 or 2009) to westerns, slasher flicks to torture porn, gritty urban thrillers to disposable-tissue romcoms, moviemakers love molds into which they can pour resources for guaranteed returns. The latest trend is the so-called “reboot” which likens the creative endeavor to pushing the power button on an iMac.

We’ve seen this sort of thing before; remakes have been a part of cinema for decades (lest we forget, The Maltese Falcon was the second adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s novel). It’s entirely possible for a remake to equal or eclipse the original (as with Infernal Affairs and The Departed). It’s also possible, as during the remake glut of the early 1990s, that the result will be as creatively bankrupt as any other formula.

So why single out reboots? And what, if anything, separates them from a simple remake? First and foremost is the matter of time. The Maltese Falcon (1941) was made a decade after The Maltese Falcon (1931) (I’m ignoring Satan Met a Lady [1936] here, largely because it was such a loose adaptation). Ocean’s 11 (2001) followed Ocean’s 11 (1968) by 41 years. Of course anyone who looks can find plenty of exceptions like the aforementioned Infernal Affairs (2002) and The Departed (2006) with only a 4-year gap.

The second crucial element is that the reboot should be part of a franchise or intended franchise. Batman (1989) had 3 sequels over 8 years when it was rebooted; there were 20 official James Bond films over 40 years (1962-2002) before Casino Royale (2006). The Incredible Hulk (2006) reboots Hulk (2003) since the latter was intended to start a series; Eric Bana signed on for three films at the outset.

With that out of the way, what’s to hate about reboots? Plenty.

The most disappointing thing about reboots, in my opinion, is that they seem to have inspired people to really, meanspiritedly bash the originals. It’s as if the only way many people can enjoy the reboot is to convince themselves that the original was a piece of crap, which is sad if you happen to like any part of that original. Look at how the (for the time) highly original elements of Burton’s Batman were denigrated: Jack Nicholson’s gleefully over-the-top Joker was slammed as a “creepy old uncle,” Danny Elfman’s dark, iconic score was suddenly too “jolly,” and the entire production too “lighthearted” or “unrealistic.” The fact that both the original and the reboot might have their own merits proves to be too much doublethink for most people to handle. What you said is all too true. Listen to people’s comments about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series versus the 2012 reboot: it’s as if the 2002, 2004, and 2007 films and their stars were universally panned at the time when at least the first two were stunning critical and commercial successes. That’s what reboots do: they create dark alternate realities a la Back to the Future II where the previous movies were all terrible despite Tomatometer scores north of 80%. It’s hard to embrace even the best of reboots, like the Nolan Batman movies, when they subtly insist that the old movies were terrible and should be forgotten.

There’s also the formula aspect: reboots must be “darker, grittier, angstier” than the original. The model for this is the admittedly excellent Batman Begins, which managed to do this despite the original Batman being pretty damn dark, gritty, and angsty to begin with. You can see the formula at work in The Amazing Spider-Man, which gives its hero a tragic past with parental issues (like Batman Begins), regurgitates an origin story that was covered previously (like Batman Begins), and includes a villain that was never utilized in the original films (like Batman Begins). Throw in some Twilight-inspired casting choices and a bunch of big names in supporting roles (like Batman Begins) and the formula is complete.

The gap between remake and reboot is shrinking as well. It took 33 years to reboot Planet of the Apes the first time but only 10 to reboot it the second. Batman Begins was made 8 years after Batman & Robin and 16 years after Batman, but The Incredible Hulk followed Hulk by 5 years, the same as Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man. James Bond got only 4 years between Die Another Day (admittedly not the finest hour for the franchise) and Casino Royale. It’s getting to the point where a reboot of any franchise, with both the promise of new box office dollars and those of potential sequels, is on the table no matter how recently or how well the last movies were made. How long before Warner Brothers reboots Batman now that Nolan is done with him? The Amazing Batman starring Robert Pattinson as Batman and Kristen Stewart as Catwoman could be hitting screens as soon as 2016!

Finally, in most cases, rebooting is excessive. Why not just recast? Casino Royale is an excellent film, but did it really need to take 40 years of franchise history to the curb just to make Bond darker, grittier, and angstier? Brosnan and Dalton were both praised for bringing those same attributes to the series in 1987 and 1995 but neither necessitated a reboot; the producers just ignored or minimized aspects of the series they didn’t like. In fact, editing a few minutes out of Casino Royale would leave it pretty firmly in continuity with the earlier film (the same can be said about The Incredible Hulk).

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