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Who Needs Film Continuity?

- Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What the hell is with all of these comic book movie reboots this millennium?

What the hell is with all of these comic book movie reboots this millennium? In 2006, we saw The Hulk, directed by Ang Lee. It had lots of hype and endless merchandising. (yawn) then, in 2008, we were treated to The Incredible Hulk, directed by Louis Leterrier. The Incredible Hulk is not a sequel, it is a do-over. In 1988, we got a so-so Punisher movie starring Dolph Lundgren. In 2004, they gave us The Punisher, starring Thomas Jane, a reboot. It was okay and there was a sequel planned, Punisher 2. Thanks to no scripts worth wiping my ass with, the sequel was canned. This December, we’ll be seeing the second Punisher reboot, Punisher: War Zone, starring Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle/The Punisher. We’ll see how well it does. Still, the biggest continuity reset, in my view, has been film franchise of a certain flying rodent from the DCU.

The Batman franchise has become one of the largest comic book movie continuity reboots of all time. I know that the first film series went to shit after Tim Burton and Michael Keaton left and we’d all really love to just forget that Batman Forever [1995] (I loved the villain casting, however) and Batman & Robin [1997] (Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy was great) ever happened, but they could have revitalized it rather than tanking it and starting over. If they convinced Tim Burton to get back in the director’s chair, it could have worked. The Superman Returns [2006] route could have been taken.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a solid fan of this new version. Batman Begins [2005] does an incredibly good job at telling the origin in this new continuity by taking from Frank Miller’s legendary Batman: Year One story. Christian Bale is a very solid Batman and Bruce Wayne. In The Dark Knight [2008], the late Heath Ledger portrays a very convincing, and absolutely maniacal Joker to conclude his film career. I cannot, in any way, put down the performances in this new canon.

At the same time, however, Batman [1989] and Batman Returns [1992] are two of my favorite movies of all time. Jack Nicholson played a brilliant Joker, Michael Gough was a perfect Alfred, Michael Keaton was an amazing Batman (even if only a so-so Bruce Wayne), Danny DeVito was born to play The Penguin, and Michelle Pfeiffer was the best Catwoman I’ve ever seen on film. (Stick to playing Storm, Halle.) Burton’s Gotham City was a cold and dark place, as it should be. His signature style and atmosphere was perfect for the franchise.

Still, what has been done, has been done and we have a worthy replacement for the original film series (link: Variety). I am just disappointed that we will never get a proper Catwoman movie based on that initial series. Halle Berry’s Catwoman [2004] was a joke and not a shred of Pfeiffer’s impressive role. That said, I persevere. The only thing left to do is move forward and hope the new Batman series doesn’t go the same route as the elder.
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