Some Thoughts on Reboots and Remakes

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57 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    Not exactly a remake, but Lucas drew heavily on Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress for Star Wars.

    And for topicality, The Road Warrior, in particular, is indebted very much much to Westerns like Magnificent Seven and the “Man With No Name” films. Its stagecoach/train robberies just occur at much higher speeds, and the mohawks are on bikers not Indians.

    Remaking or rebooting films as longer-form television has been somewhat fruitful a few times – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the series, is far superior to the film; people liked Fargo the series, even though I thought it pointless; and I am a big fan of TV’s Hannibal.

    I’ve never seen The Craft, so I can’t say if there is something there that could be reworked fruitfully; but if you’d told me that the Battlestar Galactica reboot was going to be great (at least until it went off the rails), I wouldn’t have believed that there was anything salvageable from the original Lucas-ripped cheese.Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    Frankly Saul, you’re making a base error, I think, in trying to view this artistically. That is a fundamental mistake. Movie making is a business, more so a business than ever before. The movie market has contracted, studios are not wallowing in cash and the specter of piracy stalks movie execs every waking dream. The howls of agony are ringing out of the music business across the hedge in LA real-time and the coke encrusted Hollywood execs are probably crusted with as much nervous sweat now as they are coke.

    What does this have to do with reboots? Everything. When the market gets tight and anxiety gets high people and industries run from risk. In global economics this means everyone and their Saudi oil baron uncle piles into the US dollar and accepts negative returns for the privilege of storing their wealth in a currency and economy that has the minimum risk of turning into watermarks or having the host government disappear the boodle. In movies this means you search desperately for a franchise.

    A franchise is a beautiful thing if you’re a coke encrusted Hollywood exec. You have a built in legion of fans who will go to your film, you have merchandising sewn up, you have corporate sponsors beating at the door. If you have a brand new artistic endeavor on your plate you have none of those. Maybe you have the next Star Wars there in your lap but the odds are significantly greater that you have the next Waterworld or (God[ess?] help you) Gigli. You don’t know and that risk is burning an ulcer the size of a babies fist in your stomach lining. Ever done coke on an ulcer? It’s not fun.

    New movies can be hits and spawn franchises but they can be mehs’ or flops just as easily. What makes them more likely to be hit franchises?
    -You base them off something that already worked: The Craft made a good return, why can’t it do so again?
    -You make a play for nostalgia: The Craft was big when the audiences were younger and had more hair and less babies. Audiences love remembering things they loved when they were kids.
    -You make a play for fans: big popular hit books are a good bet, Hunger Games made geysers of money; it helps that they made some damn decent movies out of them and in a golden rare miracle actually produced movies that improved on the books (the latter movies especially).
    -You turn to comics: Comics are naturally friendly to movie making. They’re created in long weird twisting arcs to mine for ideas; they have a built in core of passionate fans who’s ears will perk if you make a movie out of them; they are exquisitely well tailored for merchandizing.

    Your artistic complaints are just wind in the directors and writers suites. Directors and writers don’t make movies (well they do but they don’t start movies); it’s those soulless money hungering zombies in the penthouse that’re deciding what movies get made and the zombies are scared. So the zombies run to franchises.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      (Comics also come pre-storyboarded.)Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Yes, also true. So convenient. And every plot comes with like 40 rebooted variations already and you can probably find a director who starts panting like a dog seeing bacon at the prospect of doing a comic based movie.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      Hello. My name is Saul Degraw. I have an M.F.A. in Theatre Directing. I don’t have an M.B.A.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Oh I understand that.
        My point is looking at the Studio output and determining from this that there is a creativity crisis is fundamentally flawed. Studio output has the makeup it does not because of a dearth of new ideas but because the gatekeepers are not selecting them to be included in the Studio output. That’s not a creativity problem it’s a studio problem.Report

  3. Avatar aaron david says:

    “I suspect I am a minority view here though.”

    I will half join you in this. The last movie I saw in the theater was some Wes Andersen drek, or maybe some sort of SFnal thing, they both made so little impression on me that I forget which. I too want new ideas and actual interesting stories. Movies that are morally and intellectually challenging. Movies that have a new story to tell, or if they do tell an old story at least have a new perspective.

    But at this point in my life the chances of me going to the film on opening night, fighting crowds and then being disappointed are pretty slim. And if the studios can make money doing it the current way, who am I to say no to them.

    But I do think they are eating the seed corn at this point.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      There are some great movies I saw over the past few months that did have a good deal of originality. A Most Violent Year was great, Birdman wasn’t perfect but it dared to try for some story and originality, I also loved Force Majuere and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. I reviewed many of these movies. Mr. Turner was also very good.

      A Most Violent Year cost 20 million and earned 5.9 million according to wikipedia despite rave reviews. Birdman was an ultra hit with a 16.5 million dollar budget and a gross of 103 million dollars. I can’t find info for the budget or gross of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Force Majuere was Swedish and had a box office of 1.4 million in the U.S. Mr. Turner was a modest hit in Britain by making nearly 18 million pounds on a 8.4 million pound budget.

      So A Most Violent Year was a flop. The director’s first film was a sleeper hit (Margin Call). All is Lost made a very small profit.

      When I see movies like Force Majuere and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. I am often among the youngest if not they youngest person in the theatre. The rest of the audience is a bunch of defiant and misfity aging hippies who basically seem like stereotypical old, cat people. This concerns me (cause I don’t want to be like them when in my 60s) but it also makes me wonder where is my generation. Why didn’t they learn to appreciate the art house. I imagine that my co-audience members were checking out Goddard, Begman, and Truffaut movies in the 1960s and were kind of on a vanguard.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        I grew up with art house movies, its one of the joys of growing up in a small college town. And even though my friends all went to these films, looking back it seems we were doing it mostly out of nothing better to do/there is weird shit in these films. I tend to like art house films still, as does my wife to a greater or lesser degree, but I just don’t seem to get the feeling that they are out there anymore. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night looks interesting to me, but I missed it in the theaters (I guess it played at the Albany? not sure.) But a large part of the indifference for me comes from not specifically enjoying the experience of going to the theater and getting older and settling down. Unless something is specifically appealing to me, it just doesn’t seem worth it.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I keep hoping that something very much like what Miramax used to be will come back.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    There wasn’t really a time when Hollywood was awash in new ideas except the brief period between the fall of the studio system to Star Wars with Heaven’s Gate as the final nail on the coffin. Otherwise, the studios preferred to play it safe as they could. Think of all the endless Thin Man sequels or the Charlie Chan series. Look at all the look a like musicals, epics, and romantic melodramas churned out. Sure some of them are entertaining or original but the main intent was to make money. Its just that in the pre-CGI science fiction globalized market era, the by the numbers movies took different forms.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Hollywood’s not so bad as Bollywood
      … anyone care to comment on Nollywood? I haven’t seen much from there, I admit.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      I think part of the perception is that we mostly don’t see the endless mediocrities of the past. Even an avid viewer of TCM is just seeing a tiny slice of what was made, with selection bias in favor of the better stuff.

      That being said, The Thin Man movies were fun. It would have been better had they stopped after, oh, let’s say three. But still, as unimaginative imitative hackery goes, you can do a lot worse.Report

  6. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    I greatly benefit from a serene indifference to being ‘with it.’

    Old films are more easily available than ever. We need never suffer from a shortage of entertainment, even if we limit ourselves to imaginative and smart films with good writing, directing, and acting. If we really must see new stuff, art houses still exist and have no shortage. Some of it is even good.

    The thing is, you have to break free from the tyranny of the water cooler conversation. Stand at the water cooler and tell your co-worker about the terrific Claudette Colbert film you watched last night, and you won’t find many takers. If you feel it necessary to be current with whatever those guys are talking about, you will be forced to watch a lot of dreck. Life is too short. I became much happier once I decided I didn’t need to watch the same thing everyone else did.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      I have never seen an episode of Mad Men or Game of Thrones FWIW. And I probably never well.

      That being said, I still don’t want to be misfity in an old cat person kind of way.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I consider that sad, as those are actually quite good.
        One could definitely say the acting in Game of Thrones is better than a lot of movies — and the costume/armor/weapon design & forgery is top notch.Report

  7. Avatar Alan Scott says:


    I mean, one of the most interesting things about the current flock of superhero movies is that while they’re breaking ground in a “makes even more money at the box office” way, they’re also literally doing things with the medium that nobody’s ever tried before.

    At this point, marvel has something like ten movies and three TV shows telling interconnected stories in a shared universe–If a company was doing something like this with oscar-bait movies, you’d likely think it was pretty cool. But because it’s with blockbuster action properties, it’s just “franchise building” and “lack of creativity”.

    I think the superhero movie market is much better understood as a bunch of very talented creative artists doing things they enjoy with the backing of executives that support them, and being very successful at it–and then a bunch of other studios copying the superficial aspects of that success without understanding why it works.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC says:

      At this point, marvel has something like ten movies and three TV shows telling interconnected stories in a shared universe–If a company was doing something like this with oscar-bait movies, you’d likely think it was pretty cool.

      Yes. We just had an eight episode series, starring a female spy, set in the 1940s. And it’s getting another season. Yawn. That sort of premise happens all the time, right? I mean, it’s basically a remake of…erm…wait…wait…I’ll come up with something.

      But, hey, let’s pretend it’s all Spider-Man reboots.

      With the MCU, we have tons of little pieces with all sorts of moving parts. And putting them all together, no one’s actually ever done anything like this, trying to keep a single universe in movies and TV in this way. The closest we got before were when two, or maybe three, shows had crossovers plots back and forth, and those were usually pretty minor single-stories.

      But here we have have the standalone movies, we have the Avengers that they have to build up to, we have Agents of SHIELD (and I guess Agent Carter goes here too) that sorta fills in the cracks and keeps keeps tracks of the bits and bobbles of universe’s canon, and we have the four standalone Netflix series that are building to the Defenders.

      Yeah, that’s pretty much never happened before in the entire history of live action TV and movies. (Not sure I need the qualifier ‘live action’ there.) And, in fact, it makes perfect sense it’s happening with *Marvel*, because that is basically *exactly* how comic books work.

      Comic books get almost no respect as a narrative medium, but there are things they do better than anyone else, and producing eleventy-billion different plots with as many characters, in a shared universe, and having everything actually *work*, is something they’ve been doing for decades, and is something basically unheard of in *any* other medium. (Except, very very rarely, books try something like this.)

      I think the superhero movie market is much better understood as a bunch of very talented creative artists doing things they enjoy with the backing of executives that support them, and being very successful at it–and then a bunch of other studios copying the superficial aspects of that success without understanding why it works.

      Yes. The only two groups of superhero movies that are doing well are the MCU, and, barely, Fox’s X-Men.

      Everyone else seems to assume that the knowledge of the character will somehow sell the movie.

      In fact, I think, in an odd way, the public knowledge of the character often *hinders* turning them into film. It’s why everyone keeps screwing up Spider-Man and Superman and Batman. For some reason, they appear to not have noticed *we already know the origin story*, and insist on telling it *over and over*. It’s the same damn reason the Hulk movie failed. Didn’t need to know any of that, guys, we know who the Hulk is.

      Iron Man and Captain America and Thor managed to have interesting origins, both because we hadn’t already rehashed them a zillion times, and because the movies spent like fifteen minutes on the origin, and then the rest of the time on actual things.

      Think about that: Thor, a superhero that *no one knows anything about*, which I was about to say has never appeared in live action, except it turns out he appeared in the direct-to-TV movie ‘The Incredible Hulk Returns’, so there’s that. Anyway, Marvel managed to tell Thor’s backstory in like fifteen minutes.

      Compare to Man of Steel, which managed to make an entire movie into *making him Superman*. We already know he’s Superman, guys. Already knew that. That’s why we’re here. Watching this movie. About Superman. Who hasn’t shown up yet. *checks watch*

      This is a precedent I hope the MCU will continue. I was immensely glad to learn that, when Spider-Man is introduced into the MCU, he’s not getting another origin story. (Of course Sony, which will be doing independent Spider-Man films set in the MCU, could decide to do a prequel or something, but whatever.) Look, if you don’t know who Spider-Man is, why are you watching the third Captain America movie, or wherever he shows up? How did that even happen? Are you in the wrong movie theater? Are you, perhaps, on the wrong planet?Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:


      This is a really good point: the MCU is offering something very unique by having a massive continuous world spanning multiple screens. This allows them to experiment with different types of storytelling, layers, focus on individual characters, etc. And then bring it all together periodically for big cinema events that change the course of the individual titles. Very cool. Imagine “Breaking Bad” with every character simultaneously getting a “Better Call Saul”-type spin-off that explores different moral nuances and even different genres. Plus, it’s all punctuated by movies that explore specific big events in depth (sort of the way season finales now work for TV).

      That said, while the MCU certainly has this potential, it’s not really capitalizing on it in any way. On the one hand, most of the individual series are just applying the same formula of Law & Order (with super powers!) or MacGyver (with super powers!) to a different city and fiddling with the “gritty” nob ( see this infographic for example: ). On the other hand, the movies are so bloated with introducing new characters and checking off references to the TV properties that they have little time to tell an actual self-contained story. There is zero tension for any of the leads because we all know that they’ve been cast into the MCU for at least another decade. So the whole thing feels less like a big narrative event and more like a game of Rubic’s cube where the director needs to get all the colors lined up in 2hrs for the next step in the franchise. Sady Doyle really nails this issue in her criticism of Avengers 2 ( ):

      So, once Marvel’s formula has deprived the movie of (a) time for the characters, (b) the potential for the story to unfold in a surprising way, and (c) meaningful consequences, we then get each character’s maximum 10 minutes of focus (which is now more like five or six) cut down even further, with ads for other Marvel products. In Age of Ultron, we lose several minutes of valuable time that could be spent developing our characters to visit Wakanda and establish Andy Serkis as a villain, not because he’s important to the plot—he’ll totally disappear after this one scene—but because there’s going to be a Black Panther movie. Thor has to be taken out of the action for a while so that his scientist friend can help him hallucinate the premise of Infinity War. Captain America gets a flashback that doesn’t relate to the plot, but does remind you that he used to date Peggy Carter, who you can catch every week on ABC’s own Agent Carter! Etcetera.

      These issues don’t exist in the comics because (a) you don’t have to work so hard to sell readers on the other ongoing series; (b) you don’t have to sign actual human beings to a contract, which means you can kill them off or twist them around as much as you want; and (c) you just have a lot more time. So sure, the MCU is theoretically a very cool idea with infinite possibilities, but the Hollywood Industrial Complex has just turned each movie into a treadmill that’s all about getting you primed for the next one, and the tv show, and the next one, and so on.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC says:

        On the one hand, most of the individual series are just applying the same formula of Law & Order (with super powers!) or MacGyver (with super powers!) to a different city and fiddling with the “gritty” nob ( see this infographic for example: ).

        Uh, I hate to have to point it out, but exactly three of those shows are in the MCU…and those three basically overlap *not at all* in the checkboxes.

        First overlap: Claiming Agent Carter and Daredevil are ‘crime procedurals’. Uh, no. Daredevil is not a crime procedural by any logical definition of that phrase. Crime procedurals are when someone, usually someone in law enforcement but there are exceptions, go through a repeatable procedure (Hence the name) to solve a criminal act.

        Daredevil barely solves *any* crime, at all. He basically punches his way through gangs, and screwing with them so they take each other down. In fact, I’m not sure of a single criminal act that he knows of that he doesn’t *immediately* know who did it (Although often not how to stop it.), except the stuff he doesn’t even know is going on in the seasonal arc. Daredevil is not a crime procedural.

        (Agent Carter, OTOH, is only sorta a crime procedural. It’s structured like it’s *supposed* to be one, but with eight episodes, and so many episodes that do other things, it probably manages to fit the definition a grand total of half the time. But whatever.)

        Second overlap: Daredevil and AoS both have a ‘Orphans/Miserable Childhood’ check…well, at least, if by that on AoS, you mean one character(1) had spent all her life trying to find her parents and the strange circumstances of her birth, being moved from place to place by a secretive government agency, then joined that agency and figured it out, and on Daredevil, you mean a character had his parents die under perfectly normal circumstances when he was ten and spent the rest of his time in an orphanage. Why, those premises are almost identical!

        Third overlap: And I’m just completely baffled by the idea that Agent Carter and AoS are ‘stunt casting’. They are, in fact, ‘Joss Whedon casting’.

        1) Oddly, there’s no check box for ‘Ensemble show’, which as far as I’m aware, AoS would have that check to itself, although I don’t know every show there. Which is why I think it’s rather funny that they think AoS doesn’t have a white male lead…because three of the leads actually are. They’ve just decided the character introduced at the start as the audience surrogate is ‘the’ lead instead of ‘a’ lead.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          “Daredevil barely solves *any* crime, at all. He basically punches his way through gangs, and screwing with them so they take each other down.”

          Daredevil – the superhero whose main power is the d*ck move. 😉Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I hate to have to point it out, but exactly three of those shows are in the MCU…and those three basically overlap *not at all* in the checkboxes.

          To be fair, there are three more Netflix shows on the way, and they will overlap with DD.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC says:

            To be fair, there are three more Netflix shows on the way, and they will overlap with DD.

            They will overlap in setting with DD. The question is will they match the checkboxes?

            It’s hard to guess some of this stuff in advance of the series, but only one of those characters are white men and none of them had miserable childhoods. None of them traditionally have leather catsuits as costumes. (Although I guess it is possible that Black Cat might show up at some point in New York, now that Spider-Man is in the MCU.)

            I have no idea if any of them will have a ‘wildly obvious secret identity’, which the graphic claims Daredevil had, although he doesn’t actually.(1)

            Aka Jessica Jones might be a crime procedural, instead of what Daredevil actually isn’t. It will be a detective show…which is the sole checkbox that no MCU show fits yet. Heh.

            The only checkbox it looks like they’ll all have in common with each other and Daredevil is ‘Vigilante crime fighting’ and probably ‘Gritter tone’…and ‘Gritter tone’ is just arbitrarily drawing a line on a continuum somewhere and giving a check mark to all the shows that cross over it.

            And pointing out that a lot of comic shows have ‘Vigilante crime fighting’ is just complaining about a premise of the genre. It’s like pointing out how a lot of medical dramas have plots that hinge on surgery, or how a lot of police procedurals have an extreme amount of murders for the location. Well, yeah.

            1) The ‘everyone can see it’ secret identity complaint is often very stupid. In reality, that would come into play when the superhero interacts with *people who know him*, while in costume, *or* if he appears in public enough that people take pictures of him in costume, *or* if he’s someone famous where enough people have seen him out of costume. That’s the only way the ‘disguise’ actually matters.

            An obscure lawyer like Murdock could certainly cover half his head and beat some people up without getting tracked down without getting photographed, especially since it’s pretty obvious he *can’t* be the guy because he’s blind.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              especially since it’s pretty obvious he *can’t* be the guy because he’s blind.

              “He was blind! How can a blind man be a lookout?”
              “How can an idiot be a police officer? Answer me that!”
              “Well, it’s quite simple, really; all he has to do is enlist..”Report

            • Avatar DavidTC says:

              You know, the more I think about it, the dumber that entire list is.

              First, it can’t quite figure out what it’s trying be about. It claims to be ‘comic book shows’. But I don’t see Supernatural on there, so we’re only talking about shows made from comics, and not shows that have comic adaptions. And I don’t see the Walking Dead on there, so we’re only talking about superhero comics. And I don’t see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on there, or any other cartoon.

              So we’re specifically talking ‘live-action superhero comic book shows’.

              But now we’ve got a problem in that neither Agent Carter or Agents of SHIELD are actually comic books. In fact, Agents of SHIELD starred a bunch of entirely new characters that never showed up in comics. (Well, besides one being secretly an already existing comic character.)

              But they get lumped in because they’re similar shows…onto a list proving about how similar various shows are. Meanwhile, iZombie is left off for the same reason, despite literally fitting all the qualifications I can see. (Yes, eating someone’s brain to get their memories is a superpower.) And Supergirl and Lucifer manages to be on there *despite not being out yet*…so where’s the Netflix shows?

              And then, after finding a bunch of shows that fit perfectly within a genre, and lopping off all the outliers, make a checklist of all the genre premises, and point out the shows fit it. Erm, okay.

              Wow, shows sometimes solve crime by working with the police, and/or by being private investigators, and/or by being vigilantes? No shit, Sherlock. (Pun intended) With those three options, they’ve literally just described 75% of dramas on TV that aren’t medical dramas or (teenage or adult) soap operas or period pieces.

              Same thing, sadly, with ‘white male lead’. Yes, Hollywood is sexist and racist. I’m sure that’s relevant here.

              ‘Stunt casting’ is, uh, something that science-fiction/fantasy shows have been doing forever. (And as I’ve pointed out, neither Agent Carter or Agents of SHIELD stunt-cast…they Whedon-cast.)

              Meanwhile, the ‘gritty tone’ really stupid. So basically the point is half the shows are gritty, and half aren’t. So, when faced with a binary option of ‘being across a arbitrary line’, half are, and half aren’t…this proves they’re all identical! It’s like how all men basically have identical height, because half of them are tall and half are short. That’s how that works, right?

              Too many comic book ‘cameos’ is, of course, nonsense, at least on the ones I watch. That’s not called ‘cameos’, that’s called *having minor reoccurring characters*. Oh noes! (Although I will admit Arrow and Flash have a bit of a cameo problem, but it’s not because of ‘minor comic book’ characters, it’s that characters can’t seem to stay off each other’s shows.)

              There are only four *actual* things that really exist and only apply to this incredibly narrow genre that’s been defined here: A lot of miserable childhoods, a lot of leather catsuits, some crappy secret identity-keeping, and good guys secretly being villains. So, yes, superhero comic tropes have invade superhero TV shows. Thanks for pointing that out.

              And, uh, on every single one of those, more than half the shows *don’t* do that. So, again, the premise all the shows are similar appears to be rather stupid.

              Someone should do ‘How similar are your favorite medical dramas?’ list and see how *that* list ends up looking.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                I’m not going to defend the infographic, having seen maybe three of these shows, but I think you’re setting a petty low hurdle to clear by comparing to medical dramas. Is the TV side of the MCU actually finding diverse and creative ways to build the universe, or is it just dutifully explaining the acronyms and back-stories for each of the characters? If you took a story from one show and recast it with characters from another, would it stand out or fit right in? I mean, The Sopranos/Mad Men/Breaking Bad are also existential-white-male-midlife-crisis shows, but the tone, narrative, and story structure is completely different across the three.

                I’ll admit that it’s probably very difficult to maintain such a complex cinematic universe, but it’s difficult in terms of logistics: making sure all the characters are in the right shared scenes at the right time. Is it actually difficult in terms of storytelling craft? Otherwise the MCU is impressive in the same way it’s really impressive that the Law & Order universe spans over 1,000 hours.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Is the TV side of the MCU actually finding diverse and creative ways to build the universe, or is it just dutifully explaining the acronyms and back-stories for each of the characters? If you took a story from one show and recast it with characters from another, would it stand out or fit right in?

                If you’re specifically asking about the MCU, the answer is: If you did that, you would completely break the shows.

                There are three shows so far in the MCU. Agent Carter is in a somewhat low-key spy drama set in the 1940s, fighting superscience, with female lead who is as competent as the entire rest of the agency (The SSR) put together. Agents of SHIELD is a modern spy drama with fantastic tech that deals with terrorism and superpowers.

                Neither of those really compare to any other comics show on TV. They’re closer to Nikita. And they’re deliberately somewhat close to each other in premise, while being wildly different in style.

                Imagining the characters from AoS interacting with the characters from Agent Carter is slightly hilarious, considering the actual field agents on AoS are women, and use modern martial arts and fly all around the world, compared to Agent Carter, which has characters that appear to think they’re in an old-timey police procedural set in New York. (They’re *not* in one, but it’s a long and hard lesson for everyone but Agent Carter.) It would be the culture clash to end all culture clashes. I mean, you could have that show…but it would be ‘The Odd Couple, spy agency version’.

                And the joke, of course, that this is the same organization plus 50 years, or at at least the SSR gets folded into SHIELD.

                Daredevil, meanwhile, is a more traditional ‘superhero’ show, but very grounded. His only superpower is his senses, and some martial arts training…which means he often gets the crap kicked out of him and needs medical attention. And he’s the only person in ‘costume’, and the ‘supervillain’ is just a real estate developer who’s willing to kill people who get in his way, along with various organized crime groups that are working with him.

                Now, *Daredevil*, being a somewhat traditional superhero, would be mostly at home on Flash or Arrow, although he’d be rather amazed at who they are *fighting*. No villains put on masks and use superscience or superpowers in his universe. (Well, they do, but the *Avengers* fight them, not him.) But Flash and Arrow are not MCU shows.

                In the MCU, not only would Daredevil *not* work on AoS, they’d stick him on a list to watch, and tell him knock off the vigilante crap. In fact, that would AoS’s response to *any* superhero vigilante stuff. If the Flash or Arrow or Supergirl showed up, the question is: ‘Are you the Avengers, and did we call you here because there is an emergency? If either answer to those questions is ‘no’, please stop screwing around with superpowers or we will arrest you. However, tell us all about Fisk and the murders he committed and we’ll make sure the proper authorities know.’Report

  8. Avatar Michael M. says:

    Considering that the remake of The Craft will be directed and co-written by Leigh Janiak, who made the intriguing and atmospheric (if not completely successful) indie film Honeymoon, count me as being excited and optimistic. Rachel True, who played Rochelle in the original, was a guest on the Linoleum Knife podcast some months ago and talked about being surprised at how many people still recognize her from the movie and how fondly they remember it. I think you’re underselling its appeal — there are a number of reasons it has attained cult status. To be sure, some of them are due to the film’s cheese quotient, which is fairly high in some scenes. But it also is one of the few Hollywood films aimed at a wide audience to feature four strong roles for women (and Fairuza Balk, especially, takes ample advantage of the opportunity!), a cast that isn’t all white, to incorporate race and class issues without beating viewers over the head, and to have stakes that don’t boil down to “does the girl get the dreamy guy?,” which is what most films that star girls who are supposed to be teenagers ultimately revolve around. (If I remember correctly, the dreamy guy gets killed in The Craft — don’t mess with witches.) All of these things, including Balk’s effectively unhinged scenery-chewing, make the film resonate beyond its occasional clumsiness. It still fits into the “final girl” framework, but it does so without resorting to the usual stalker tropes.

    I think it’s a great idea to hand this to a promising female director and see what she can make of it. I’m more interested in something like this than the supposedly prestige navel-gazing of straight white male indie filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach and Alex Ross Perry, or anyone else overwhelmed by Phillip Roth.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I think you are making a kind of false dichotomy here. You can be all for more voices in cinema while being opposed to the constant end of remakes and reboots and franchising. There are plenty of female directors too champion like Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucky, Meek’s Cutoff, Night Moves).

      Also all the guy directors you cited were too broad a swipe and they have very little in common in terms of themes and styles.

      Off-Topic but I find it interesting that Philip Roth went from representing the experience of 1st/2nd Generation Jewish-Americans who yearned to fit in to being but were always excluded or always made aware of their otherness to being the ur-Heterosexual White Male Oppressor Figure. You would think his name was William Williamson V and he went to Exeter, Harvard, and then worked on Wall Street for a while before giving it a go at the whole writing novels thing. His name is Philip Roth and he went Weequahic High School in Newark, New Jersey. This was still when Newark was divided into wards and if you grew up in the Jewish ward, you dared not cross into the Irish or Italian wards. He also grew up at the time when almost every college and university had their quota system. He was unlikely to get into the Ivies because his last name began with R. Richard Feynman talked about being denied entrance to the Ivies because they all filled their quota of Jews by the time they reached F.

      There was a story in the NY Times a few years ago about how Emory’s Dentistry School purposefully flunked out some of their Jewish students in the 1950s because they though they had too many. Meaning that they changed their grades.

      So it is kind of silly to me that Philip Roth is considered a majoritarian because it comes from a large lacking of historical knowledge.Report

  9. Avatar Kolohe says:

    So, what do you think of all these folks?Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Sesame street is gold, pure gold. Here’s a link to their game of Thrones spoof. Some of those jokes would be inappropriate for children if they weren’t whizzing safely so high above those tots heads.


    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      Did you miss this part above?

      “Theatre is filled with new productions of plays. This happens for a variety of reasons. There are classics that many directors and actors and other artists want to sink their teeth into. There are regional productions of plays that debut in New York or other cities. I just saw the San Francisco production of a play that originated in D.C.’s Wooly Mammouth Theatre. There are also large theatres that get criticized for putting on the same plays over and over again at the expense of new voices. Unsurprisingly these theatres tend to be the heavy hitters in the theatre world. They at least have the best budgets.”

      My omission was the word’s “already produced” in the first sentence.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        I’m asking for your personal opinion. You said they ‘get criticized’ – are you criticizing them, or just passing along the zeigest? Are the companies on the list actually ‘heavy hitters’ in the theater world, with expansive budgets?

        I am, obviously, trying to drill down on if the difference between the 6 zillionth version of Macbeth and the 6th revival of Caberet is just a matter of taste & style, and intellectual cachet (and probably a bit of intellectual property law). But, totes seritotes, I’m looking for your honest opinion of Shakespeare theater companies.

        And bottom line, if you’re telling a good story, telling it better, or telling it with a new thematic focus, what’s really wrong with using a pre-existing narrative?Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          A lot of those places will do more than Shakespeare. The Stratford Festival in Canada and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival also commission new plays. So does Cal Shakes.Report

  10. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    I agree that remakes are overdone, and seem far more prevalent now than they were previously.

    Making a reboot of a previously successful movie when you’ve got nothing new to say is pure laziness, and tends to anger fans rather than engaging them (e.g., Robocop). In contrast, for reasons I don’t know, the Mad Max reboot seems to be getting rave reviews, and I plan on seeing it (know nothing about the original, but I like action movies and there have been a shortage of good ones).

    In general, though, I think remakes should only be done of older movies that had good concepts but for whatever reason – poor execution, overbudgeting, special effects of the time not up to the job – didn’t work out. If you can deliver something better than the original product, and add something interesting of your own, then go for it. Otherwise, let the original stand.

    However, sequels and series’ tend to get lumped in with remakes, and they shouldn’t be. It’s one thing for a lazy studio to decide to tell a story that’s already been told, on the assumption that people will show up. It’s another thing to make a number of movies with that have a similar cast of characters but tell either one long story in installments, or tell a bunch of different stories. Toy Story 2 and 3 were very worth making (Toy 3 was the best of the bunch). Serialized filmmaking is kind of like watching a TV show on the big screen over longer spans of time: people go back because they like these characters and they want to see more stories about them. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    And an original film doesn’t always have an original idea. Avatar was one of the least original things I’ve ever seen, and I’d rather have the next MCU movie than bare-bones characterization and plot like that. I skip out on many the more Oscar-style films because yet another drama about a middle-class white person having career angst or not getting along with their family just gets boring, and I don’t care to spend my money on it.

    I would like to see more original movies and original plots, though. Almost all of the top-10-grossing films for each of the last several years have been sequels or series of some kind, and that’s too much. I don’t generally like Saul’s type of arthouse movies, but I like science fiction and speculative fiction with original plots: Inception, Looper, Safety Not Guaranteed, Chronicle, to name a few (saw Ex Machina recently; it was okay but didn’t draw me in the same way these ones did). I don’t like that the franchises are drawing in all the money and drownding them out. Limited-release movies rarely show up in the theatres where I live, as the theatres are all owned by the same large company and it only wants to show the biggest-budget things (except around Oscar season, when we get the usual slate of nominees).Report

  11. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Why do we not need a remake of “The Craft” but we apparently still do need to redo Shakespeare’s plays?Report

  12. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    The problem covers more than movies. I read science fiction and fantasy for entertainment, and the field is increasingly filled with open-ended series. Granted, there are times when I want to curl up with some old friends having a new adventure. And there are stories that are simply too big to tell within the limits that publishing places on book size. But I do worry that new stuff is being pushed out too often.

    Side thought: given prices, how much of all of this is the “Holiday Inn” phenomenon? I’m old enough to remember their “the best surprise is no surprise” ad campaign. Maybe at $10 for a movie ticket, and $8 for a mass-market paperback, people want to buy something where they know in advance what they’re getting. No surprises, good or bad.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Michael Cain: people want to buy something where they know in advance what they’re getting. No surprises, good or bad.

      Wasn’t this part of the Sad Puppies’ view?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Yup. And as a marketing strategy, it makes sense. Where the Puppies and I part ways is their thinking that books that are exactly what you were expecting should win prizes for it.Report

  13. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “So, why do certain films cause more ire and rage about the death of ideas as compared to others?”

    Because people that complain about such things have zero idea about how to make art, and consequently believe that true artists never do anything that isn’t original.

    And then they rave about Shakespeare, apparently unaware that he did nothing BUT reboots.

    And then they complain that a new artists vision of X wasn’t identical to an older artists vision of X.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      “Because people that complain about such things have zero idea about how to make art, and consequently believe that true artists never do anything that isn’t original.”


      I resent that a bit.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I’d be surprised if you hadn’t made SOME art… or read tvtropes.
        I mean, you might not have managed to make a world-renowned pillow fort, but we can’t all be totally awesome.

        Hell, even I’ve managed to create some decent art (no, you can’t see it.)Report

  14. Avatar Pinky says:

    I think I’d be interested in a remake of The Craft because I thought the original wasn’t well-executed. I typically don’t like remakes/reboots/sequels if I liked the original. I have no interest in seeing Hannibal or Silence of the Lambs because Manhunter worked for me.

    The Craft featured four witches, one pretty and the hero, one less so and the villain, and two whose primary characteristic was superficiality (note, not that they were shallowly-built characters, but that they were shallow characters). They had petty high-school problems and aspirations. The actress playing the hero character wasn’t interesting. The production wasn’t that good – the special effects were fine for the time for a lower-budget film, but it simply wasn’t shot well.

    If someone wants to remake a somewhat-generic supernatural thriller and do it better, by all means let him. If someone wants to phone it in and use the name of an 1990’s movie to pad the ticket sales, well, I’m not going to see it in the theaters anyway.Report