Sunday, July 1, 2012

Spider-Man, or the Amazing Spider-Man? The Case for Reboots In Movies, part I

Since we're on the precipice of The Amazing Spider-Man's premiere, I thought I'd go ahead and address an issue that seems to come up when film franchises reboot.

In the last few weeks, I've found a plethora of opinions, both online and otherwise, as people compare the last trilogy of Spider-Man films with the one that's rebooting the franchise in just a couple days.  More often than not, people complain about Tobey Maguire's absence and how dark The Amazing Spider-Man seems in comparison to the previous films.  Others have mentioned their discontent with the idea of reboots and "repackaging the same stories" for the purposes of making money off the public.  Overall, the comparisons are not favorable for the new kid, and reek of nostalgia for last decade's movies.

I think I've made my position on these kinds of situations clear on several occasions, but it bears repeating in light of the negativity I've seen for the upcoming film.  Too often, I've seen people get too used to a particular actor in a particular role, and base their opinions on reboots and recasting on that comfort.  It makes them less receptive to what could otherwise be an excellent change in the mythology or narrative, and brings an unnecessarily negative perception to something that's biggest flaw seems to be that it's different from what previously came to pass.

Despite all the apprehension and, in some cases, outright hate I've seen directed at The Amazing Spider-Man, we all know it's going to do extremely well.  It's too high profile, and the mythology is too popular for it not to make a big dent, at least come its opening weekend.  Hopefully enough of the naysayers will be convinced to give it a chance by that point, but in the mean time I think it's worth pointing out some of the non-peer pressure reasons for checking it out.

The Spider-Man films from last decade were good, there can be no denying it (except for Spider-Man 3, many will argue).  I can understand a certain amount of attachment to them, as they were very well done.  But I think it's both short-sighted and unfair to spite the successor before it's even arrived, simply because you like the previous stories so much.

One of the most common arguments I've found against The Amazing Spider-Man have centered around Andrew Garfield's interpretation of Peter Parker / Spider-Man.  What seems to be said most is that he's too snarky, and not nice enough as the sensitive, put-upon Peter Parker they remember from the movies, and in some cases the comics.

While that's a valid concern in some ways, there have been other interpretations of Peter Parker as a still-nice, but more confident and sarcastic teenager, most notably in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man, also from the previous decade.  Even without that source material, the alteration to Peter's personality, while noticeable, isn't substantial enough to make him essentially a different character.  With a reboot, you essentially get the opportunity to use the same characters and settings to tell different stories, and that includes changing some aspects of the characters' personalities.

But, of course, many people have issues with the idea of a reboot in the first place.  As for why, that's something I'll discuss tomorrow, as well as why I think reboots, when done well, are fair game.

Until then, don't hate the new films just because you love the old ones.  There's plenty of room for both, or at least holding off judgment as long as it takes to give the reboot a fair shake!

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