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Saturday, 16 January 2010

An open message to Marvel: Enough With the "Gritty Reboots" already! (text)

Recently, I learned (from's Dan O'Brien, no less) that Marvel has scrapped plans for filming "Spiderman 4", instead favouring "rebooting" the franchise with a far more gritty tone.


This is SPIDERMAN we're talking about - It's meant to be a children's character! I hate how the success of The Dark Knight (a movie which I was not a great fan of) is affecting the development of any potential comic book movies so damn much! Granted, Batman Begins was the actual Batman "reboot", but Marvel didn't take too much notice of that - and that's how it should have stayed!
There is already a "gritty" Spiderman Spin-off - It's called "The Punisher". If you want to do a Spiderman story that's a little more gritty than the previous movies, feel free to use the characters you already have - you wouldn't hear any complaints from me if you did a Spiderman/Punisher crossover (can it still be called a crossover when they started in the same comic series? More of a return to form, really...), and that would give you plenty of opportunities to up the realism and grit of the film (The Punisher being one of the few "heroes" who actually kills).
But no, instead we're wiping away the previous 3 movies we spent getting to know the characters, and restarting the story again. Don't Marvel know how frustrating that is? One of the best things about "Punisher: War Zone" was that, despite the fact it had an entirely new cast and director, it didn't bother with any of this reboot nonsense - it carried on from the series - opening 6 years into Frank's killing spree. We've already had a movie telling us the backstory on how he became the Punisher, we don't want to sit through that again - and it's the same with Spiderman!
On top of this, don't they remember what happened when the first film came out? People actually complained about the realism of the violence - the scene where Uncle Ben gets shot by a carjacker was thought to be far too real to be included in a 12 rated movie. What they mean when they say "gritty reboot" is not "a more realistic movie", it actually means "a movie with Bourne-style hand-camera work for the action scenes that won't look anywhere near as nice". Now, I loved this style in the Bourne films, and thought it was incredibly effective in "Saving Private Ryan" - but not in Spiderman! Remeber in my War Zone review when I said how I loved the fact that Lexi Alexander had pretty well just transferred the content of the comics onto the screen? Why do the opposite, and turn a bright and cheerful kids cartoon into a Bourne-style action film? I just don't understand it.
Also, these "Gritty Reboots" inevitably aren't realistic, and tend to only detract from the comic book nature of the films. Whilst The Punisher is just about believable, mainly due to his not having superpowers, how can we treat a movie as being "real" if the plot revolves around a teenager who develops superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive spider, and dons a latex outfit in order to fight crime? Trying to make this story real is just going to ruin the fun, kid-friendly nature of the Spiderman films, and make it far less enjoyable. As I've said before, I much preferred Tommy Lee Jones' psychotic turn as Two-Face in Batman Forever to the mopey, sad portrayal of the character in The Dark Knight, because I go to see comic book movies for a reason - to see over-the-top and ridiculous villains, battling our heroes in preposterous circumstances you couldn't possibly perceive as being "real".
As for the realism thing - Compare The Dark Knight to American Psycho (a choice I made based on Christian Bale being the lead in both films); which one seems more realistic? The one that takes a comic book story and tries to be realistic, with it's shaky camera work and "very serious tone", or the one that takes a realistic story and portrays it in an over-the-top ridiculous manner, and eschews shaky hand camera work for good old fashioned stationary, beautiful cinematography?

That's what I thought...

Next thing we know, they'll be turning the "X-Men" into "Watchmen", and I don't know about you - but I think Wolverine would make a crap Ozymandias...

Although, on the plus side, this may mean we'll see Evil Dead 4 a little sooner than we otherwise would have...

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