Every year, major movie studios release dozens of films and, like clockwork, a healthy chunk of those films are sequels, prequels, reboots or off-shoots. The degrees of quality, however, vary enormously from studio to studio and from year to year. (If you want proof, just remember that 2008 gave birth to The Dark Knight and 2009 spawned X-Men Origins: Wolverine. No analysis needed). Granted, the movie business is a business, meaning they have to turn a profit, but so many of these new takes on old ideas are unwarranted and unsuccessful. So, after considering the sequels in film history, here are a few ideas we’ve gleaned that have helped some remakes swim while so many sink.
A new Batman film is in the works featuring a grizzled older caped crusader (played by Ben Affleck) facing off against Superman. This idea only has legs because it hasn’t been done before. The simple idea of the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight sharing the same story is incredibly intriguing. Showing an audience something as audacious as the two most iconic superheroes ever facing off on the big screen is going to get viewers in seats, but ultimately this pairing is a shtick that the entire film will rely upon. Is that a bad thing?
No one calls The Avengers a sequel or prequel, but it’s definitely a relative of these labels. It is the culmination of several multi-million dollar franchises and here’s the kicker, the film works. Yes, the script and action is primarily relying upon the “can all these superheroes work together to save the world?” premise, but the story is infused with humor and allows every character to shine in their own excellent way. The point being that an ensemble cast and convoluted story ultimately amounted to the best superhero movie to come along in ever, and it’s not because lots and lots of things exploded. It’s because the script and acting is determined to not be average. Is that matter of acting quality? Sure. Script re-writes? Absolutely.
So whether it’s a familiar conflict, a tired idea, or a overstuffed marquee, audiences will forgive enormous plot holes, bad CGI and obvious sentimentality if the story and inherent humanity is sound. Not allowing for mediocrity (however obvious that sounds) in a ham-handed genre is an impressive feat no matter how many times we’ve seen these characters reinvented.
So in closing, consider this: never underestimate the elasticity of plausibility when faced with authentic entertainment. We will endure utter nonsense if we are entertained, genuinely entertained by the same character for the 18th time. But that should be a challenge to filmmakers to aim higher, not to merely cash paychecks.