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The Misplaced Outrage Against the Spiderman and Bourne Reboots

There’s been a lot of negative publicity surrounding the recent reboots of the Spiderman and Bourne franchises. Andrew Garfield and Jeremy Reiner have replaced Tobey Maguire and Matt Damon in an effort for both franchises to get younger. While I’m not an advocate for remakes and sequels, I don’t see what all the fuss is about in this instance.

While I don’t think that Damon and Maguire needed to be replaced, I think both franchises could benefit from fresh faces. The Bourne Ultimatum may have been a good movie, but it was definitely the worst of the three. Spiderman 3 was an offense against film that should have been punishable by death. The movie gives The Hulk, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Ghost Rider some serious competition for worst superhero movie of all time.

Some critics are concerned about the short time that’s elapsed between movies. While I would prefer for some more time to go by before we see a new Peter Parker and a new Jason Bourne, Hollywood has never preoccupied itself with this issue. The Incredibly Hulk came a mere five years after The Hulk and Batman Forever was only a few years after Batman Returns. This is hardly unexplored territory.

The most famous example of a series recasting its lead is James Bond. I don’t think James Bond is a good example to use when rationalizing the recasting process. George Lazenby, the second Bond, was a terrible Bond and Connery was brought back before MGM brought in Roger Moore for Live and Let Die. Bond was also aided by excellent source material in Ian Fleming’s novels. The same guy doesn’t even write Bourne anymore.

The bottom line is that recasting rarely works. It’s less of an issue when we’re talking about supporting characters, but rarely with the lead. The Incredible Hulk was just as bad as The Hulk. Edward Norton was pretty much a lateral movie from Eric Bana. Batman Forever was serviceable, but it lacked the creativity and innovation that made Batman Returns a classic of the superhero genre.

Recasting really isn’t the problem here. The real problem lies with moviegoers who choose to support these films. They’re not going anywhere as long as they keep raking in hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s hard to fault the studios, which know that these films are cash cows and not Oscar contenders.

I recently gave a good review Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, but I don’t think we’ll continue to see sequels impress in that fashion. But the complaining about reboots needs to stop. Put your money where your mouth is. If that means that the money goes back in your pocket, that’s fine by me.

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