The other day it was reported that the Spider-Man film franchise would be rebooted, and I, huge Spidey geek that I am, blogged about it and tried to remain optimistic. I knew that a rant was forming though, not specifically because of the news itself, but because of how the whole thing is just another example of a film studio completely missing the point. My annoyance was further fueled by reading this post at EW.com, which stated:
This time around, the series will place Peter Parker in a more contemporary setting, as a teenager battling today’s issues. The decision to go with an origin story stemmed from Sony developing two Spidey projects simultaneously. According to studio insiders, Sony was working on both Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 and the new origin story from James Vanderbilt, who wrote Zodiac. The original plan was to keep the Spider-Man gang together for one last film in 2011 before rebooting the series in 2012. When it became clear that Raimi would not be able to make the summer 2011 release date planned for Spider-Man 4, the studio opted to scrap Spider-Man 4 altogether, and focus solely on the series reboot.
Furthermore, according to EW, "the studio [is] interested in a more gritty, contemporary redo of the series." Did I not just say in my last post that I didn't want to see a gritty Spider-Man movie? And did I miss something where Sam Raimi's movies were some sort of period piece? Do kids today not live in crappy New York City apartments and have bosses who are jerks? Have teenage boys stopped having crushes on pretty girls? Are we going to get to see Gwen Stacy die? Is the new movie going to be all about terrorists and bomb threats in the high school? I'd just like to get an idea of what exactly is meant by contemporary.
I'm not going to start complaining about reboots and remakes and Hollywood's complete lack of originality. That's been done to death, and I've really enjoyed a lot of those reboots. The plan to release a rebooted film so quickly after Spider-Man 4 seems like the cinematic equivalent of those sad middle aged men who dump their wives for younger women who look just like their wives when they were twenty. Also, if they already had the reboot planned, I have to question how committed they ever were to continuing the current films. After all, they could promise Raimi all the creative control he wanted, knowing that even if they didn't follow through and he wound up quitting, they could just got ahead with the script they already had waiting in the wings. It just smacks of Raimi getting a really bumb deal from the studio.
The biggest failure here though is Sony failing to realize that Spider-Man isn't anything like Batman. Christopher Nolan was able to successfully relaunch the Batman franchise because he made really good Batman movies. Sam Raimi's first two Spider-Man movies were a success because he made really good Spider-Man movies. The same goes for Favreau's Iron Man, while I'm at it. If you look at those movies, there are similarities there, but they're not carbon copies of eachother. These were all story and character based, creator driven movies, but the characters story and tone were all very different. The key ingredient was talent and vision from people who understood what made characters why characters that had already endured for decades had achieved that popularity, not corporate meddling. (The Fantastic Four movies had some of those ingredients, but completely lacked the key talent component, leading to sheer mediocrity on all fronts.)
Now, you could ask me, "What about Superman Returns? That was a creative driven movie, and look how that turned out," to which I say it's the exception that proves the rule. Any idiot could have seen the pitfalls of giving Superman a kid. The fact that they didn't just goes to show how stupid studio executives are. Huge fucking road signs on that one.
For a non-superhero example of a studio's nonsensical meddling, I direct you towards an io9 post from last week, regarding Darren Aronofsky's unwillingness to go ahead with the Robocop remake if MGM would only greenlight it if he agreed to make it in 3-D. Apparently, this decision was made because of the success of Avatar, because people just love any movie that's in 3-D. Remember the mobs of people trying to see Journey to the Center of the Earth in 2008? Certainly just because a space adventure about large, blue aliens worked in one format a gritty, near-future tale of a Fascist police state would also work in that format.
If studio interference was in any way related to quality and success, I, Robot would have been Citizen Kane and Titanic all rolled into one. Audiences are going to get sick of the bland, cookie-cutter crap that studio executives insist on churning out, and when they do all the good filmmakers are going to be off making self-financed films for the internet.