I know some people like movies that shake things up. The current films Man of Steel and The Lone Ranger come to mind as perfect examples. In the former, whether you may want to kindly call it a “re-imagining” of the superior Superman II starring Christopher Reeve or not, there is clearly more darkness and less humor. If that is your cup of tea, so be it, but I find it to be bitter to swallow. The latter sort of desecrates the TV series with the great Clayton Moore as the Ranger and even greater Jay Silverheels as Tonto. Armie Hammer’s Ranger is like Henry Cavill’s Superman in that neither one is recognized as the character until deep into both way too long films, and I know Johnny Depp is known for eccentric characters, but his Tonto goes around feeding a dead bird that he wears as a hat and is like the wayward son of Edward Scissorhands and Captain Jack Sparrow.
In Man of Steel the word “superman” is only used once, and in such a flippant way as to almost negate its importance in the proceedings. This may be a long haul for many viewers, like waiting for Chris Pine to don the captain’s shirt in Star Trek (2009) when director J.J. Abrams turns our previously constructed world of Kirk, Spock, and company on its head. He uses time travel as a way to justify changing perspective, but to see Spock and Uhura locking lips (instead of Kirk and Uhura) boggles the mind. If you want further insults to the “canon” watch Star Trek Into the Darkness and wait for the scene with Spock and Kirk and the needs of the many. It will not blow you away, but it will blow your mind with its insipid slap to the face of all things sacred to the Trek world.
But for perspective, we also have seen this happen in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series of Batman films. Always a fan of the Bat, I was happy to see that the Caped Crusader was more serious, but Nolan also forgot (as does Zack Snyder under his guidance in Man of Steel) that a wry sense of wit and humor made the original Batman TV series so much fun. Man, do I miss seeing Batman (Adam West) dangling from a helicopter with a shark attached to his leg. Those were the days.
So perhaps my beef with rebooting is not so much being opposed to something new as much as it is desecrating what has come before. I do not need new versions Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Dawn of the Dead (Snyder also the guilty party there), or The Poseidon Adventure. Mainly because the first film was far superior (I know that’s a stretch with Poseidon but still true) and a need for a remake or reimaging is unjustified and unnecessary.
This problem in films similarly haunts the Broadway stage, where revival after revival hits the boards and the tourists and the bridge and tunnel crowds go wild. How many times can someone “revive” something that is better off left in the collective memories of theatre goers? One can argue that a whole new generation that never saw the original deserves to see Pippin, but I would contend no one needs to see a new version because that means tinkering with plays better left like sleeping dogs – to lie quietly somewhere.
I know that I am fighting a losing battle here. The remakes, revivals, and re-imaginings will go on ad infinitum because, unfortunately, all things on heaven and earth that can be imagined can be re-imagined. There is nothing sacred anymore. Absolutely nothing! And nothing makes money like something someone has seen before. If you don’t believe me, explain the box office for Despicable Me 2 and I am certain you will get an A+ in your quantam physics course.
I am sure television will not be far behind. They have remade shows such as Charlie’s Angels and Hawaii Five-O. Sooner or later we will have someone making I Love Lucia, with an Hispanic housewife and her overwhelmed American rock star husband; or maybe we will have the The Mary Tyler Les Show with befuddled newsroom guy Les (Tony Shalhoub) running around the streets of Manhattan, throwing his straw hat in the air, and returning to work to be told “I hate spunk” by his annoying boss played by Kathy Bates.
I don’t know about you, but I like the way Star Trek, Superman, The Lone Ranger, and Batman used to be. Maybe I am deluding myself, or perhaps I am not as open as I should be to change, but I swear that I will completely lose it if Disney does a Star Wars remake and the line “Luke, I am your mother” appears anywhere in that script. Then there will indeed be a disturbance in the force, and it won’t be pretty!
Photo Credits: Lone Ranger- usmagazine; dark knight-briebar.com; shaloub-npr.org