The Best Franchise Reboots, From The Suicide Squad to Fast and Furious - VRGyani News and Media

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Thursday, August 5, 2021

The Best Franchise Reboots, From The Suicide Squad to Fast and Furious

This week finds the new and improved The Suicide Squad earning rave reviews and – despite current circumstances making for a hindrance at the box office – proving an unmitigated improvement over its predecessor. Such a strong course correction that could leave the series in a much better light got us thinking of all the other times studios and creatives looked at a franchise and said, “Nah, we can do better.”

Below is a list of some of the very best of those moviemaking decisions, wherein a series and/or character was either tweaked just a bit or given a complete makeover, all in the name of expanding the audience or simply making a better movie. We omitted certain series reboots that came after a lengthy period of time between entries (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 2018’s Halloween) and general changings of the guard (James Bond movies), and focused on mostly immediate sequels or franchise entries where you could see the differences in approach in quality that transformed a dud into a stud.

RELATED: Margot Robbie and David Dastmalchian Talk 'The Suicide Squad' and Geek Out Over Their Love for 'Metropolis'

Fast & Furious to Fast Five

The reunion of Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, and Michelle Rodriguez in 2009’s Fast & Furious revved the series to some of its biggest box office highs – despite being demolished by critics. For the fifth entry – Fast Five – Universal and the development team made arguably one of the smartest moves for a film franchise ever, right alongside Marvel having Samuel L. Jackson break into Tony Stark’s house to deliver an ominous tease. They broke through the confines of the street racing angle, brought in more series favorites (and a much-needed Dwayne Johnson), and turned the fifth outing into a globe-trotting heist flick with wild car-based stunts that would only defy greater and greater logic with each new outing. The gear switch brought in new fans, gave the series a golden ticket into the billion-dollar club, and added on some expensive new wheels that continue to spin to this day.

Thor: The Dark World to Thor: Ragnarok

The first Thor movie did an alright job establishing the God of Thunder (Chirs Hemsworth), giving him plenty of Shakespearean family drama to deal with. However, his standalone sequel, Thor: The Dark World, and even the second Avengers flick, Age of Ultron, failed to get the most out of the hunky god, and a change was sorely needed for his third solo outing. With Taika Waititi on board for Thor: Ragnarok, the sternness of the old Thor was ditched along with the character’s hair in place of a colorful, effortlessly entertaining outer space romp that understood that a god who can summon a sparkly hammer to his hand is a very, very silly concept. Hemsworth got to make use of his comedic chops, and with more character development to chew on, this new God of Thunder had no problem taking the Rainbow Bridge right into our hearts.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to Spider-Man: Homecoming

With Sony clearly forgetting that putting too many villains and storylines in the pot is a bad thing, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a bloated, over-cooked attempt to launch a Spidey cinematic universe, doing poorly enough at the box office to make the studio realize they were caught in their own webs. In a move that still boggles the mind, Sony teamed with Marvel Studios to loan out the web-slinger so that he may get a fresh start in the proper hands. (Even though Spider-Man is a Marvel character, Sony currently owns the exclusive rights to make movies about him.) This resulted in an MCU Spider-Man (Tom Holland) back in the middle of his relatable, awkward high school years, but who also gets to pal around with Iron Man and “magic with a kick” Thanos in the face. The reinvigorated Spidey has been doing so well, in fact, we may even see him get to know former Sony Spider-Men later this year in Spider-Man: No Way Home where he can rub his fancy, expensive suits in their faces.

X-Men: The Last Stand to X-Men: First Class

The X-Men trilogy of the early 00s was brought to its conclusion with X-Men: The Last Stand, and while it made plenty of money, it was a rather loud and upsetting experience. Studio 20th Century Fox was left scrambling to figure out what to do with the series, leaning more into possible solo outings like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and a Magneto movie. The latter was never made, but like a phoenix from the ashes, it transformed into a whole new take on the series – X-Men: First Class. The 60s-set movie blended fun spy thriller and superhero tropes with the social commentary the series is known for, loading it with an amazing cast (led by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence) that would stand tall next to their predecessors. This new journey also didn’t end on the highest of notes (2019’s poorly received Dark Phoenix), but this first outing was a brilliant new take that kept the series chugging for most of the last decade.

The Wolverine to Logan

While Fox did end up giving us a new team of X-Men to fawn over, they still leaned on the old world with solo outings for everyone’s favorite clawed curmudgeon Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). X-Men Origins: Wolverine is memorable strictly for being terrible, and while its sequel The Wolverine was much better under the stewardship of director James Mangold, something still felt missing, like the character wasn’t getting his proper due. Then came 2017’s Logan. A massive turn in a different direction, this final (???) outing for Jackman’s beloved character would embrace an R-rated tone and sense of brutal violence, using a neo-Western tapestry to explore a grim future for not only Logan, but the remaining mutants (including Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier). The Wolverine works as a fine popcorn blockbuster, but Logan veers into superhero movie masterpiece territory, letting Jackman and Stewart’s characters go out in a way that truly honored their legacies and set a bar for comic books at the movies.

The Mummy (2017) to The Invisible Man (2020)

Remember when Universal was so confident that their shared universe of classic movie monsters would get audiences so jazzed that they showed off a big cast photo of stars like Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, and Javier Bardem to get everyone even more excited? If anything it became more memorable when 2017’s The Mummy arrived deader than a 3,000-year-old corpse, tanking the whole Dark Universe before it could begin. Smartly, Universal handed over another one of its classic monsters – The Invisible Man – to Blumhouse, where the low-budget remake for a modern era was as fantastic and terrifying as The Mummy was disastrous and hilarious. The Dark Universe may be dead, but the embrace of these titles as individual stories that don’t break the bank seems to be the way forward, and this approach does more to inspire excitement for the future of Universal monsters than Tom Cruise fist-fighting a super-powered mummy ever could.

RELATED: John Cena and Joel Kinnaman on How James Gunn’s ‘The Suicide Squad’ Takes Surprising Left Turns

Batman v. Superman to Wonder Woman

Anyone who has ever dared to say on social media that director Zack Snyder is anything less than a god amongst filmmakers knows that Batman v. Superman has its share of core admirers. While that movie fumbled to the finish line in its efforts to set up a cinematic universe, it’s Patty JenkinsWonder Woman that, one year later, felt like the course correction the DCEU needed. Ditching Batman v. Superman’s dourness and overabundance of Marthas in favor of something more suitably heroic and inspiring, Wonder Woman’s critical and commercial success was enough for WB to veer away from the darkness of Snyder’s tone and into more light-hearted, exciting fare that we would come to see in Aquaman, Shazam, Birds of Prey and this year’s The Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad (2016) to The Suicide Squad

Speaking of The Suicide Squad, the soft reboot of the team of supervillain characters earns a spot on this list all on its own. Virtually a complete 180 from the sludgy hodgepodge of tones in the 2016 take on the team of supervillain characters, this new vision from director James Gunn embraces an R-rated sensibility and the zaniness of the ensemble for a manic, endlessly funny adventure. Thanks to plenty of fresh faces and a newfound sense of fun, The Suicide Squad finally makes the case for seeing more of these characters together on the big screen, rightfully keeping your-local-meth-dealer Joker (Jared Leto) far, far away.

Superman Returns to Man of Steel

Hindsight is always 202/20, but even in 2006, it should have been clear that an old-school take on Superman in the vein of the Christopher Reeve films with a quarter-billion dollar price tag was probably not the best move. When Superman Returns failed to dazzle audiences, Warner Bros. went back to the drawing board in their Fortress of Solitude, called in producer Christopher Nolan, said “do Batman Begins but with Superman,” and voila, 2013’s Man of Steel was born. While imperfect, this brand-new vision of the character from director Zack Snyder offered something more exciting and unique for modern audiences who perhaps viewed Superman as “too boring,” and kickstarted a whole new wave of DC movies.

Batman & Robin to Batman Begins

Best remembered now as a sort of camp masterpiece, Batman & Robin was so poorly received in 1997 it caused Warner Bros. to scrap the next sequel (Batman Unchained) and wonder how they could get the Bat back into audiences’ good graces. Enter emerging maestro Christopher Nolan, who saw in Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) a human being using a mask to deal with his own trauma, turning away from the colorful and silly to the more grounded and psychological complex. Earning dollars, praise, and arguably making Batman more popular than ever, this wildly successful course correction forever changed how comic book movies could be perceived.

Mission: Impossible III to Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

In 2011 the Fast franchise took a turn for the better by leaning into a larger ensemble cast and a great emphasis on blockbuster stunts, and that year’s Mission: Impossible entry made the same turn. While Mission: Impossible III earned solid marks and kept the series chugging, with the fourth outing the series took a bold new turn that made the most impressive use yet of Cruise as an action star, solidifying himself as a man willing to risk death for our entertainment. The rave reviews and robust box office set the series on course to up the game even more, and each new outing as in some way, shape, or form improved on what came before, establishing the recent run of Mission: Impossible movies as some of the great action movies of our time.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan

The first in the run of Star Trek movies featuring the original cast from the series – Star Trek: The Motion Picture – was less than out of this world, lacking a strong narrative and just being a general bore. However, it was successful enough to warrant a sequel, and a complete overhaul in creative vision resulted in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, one of the greatest movie sequels ever. It improved on virtually everything from its predecessor, upping the thrills and pathos among its veteran cast and adding an iconic villain from the show, played by Ricardo Montalban. The Wrath of Khan gave the series new life on the big screen and led to a string of mostly successful sequels, proving no matter how shaky a takeoff may be, there’s always a chance to correct course and blast off into infinite possibilities.

KEEP READING: How David Ayer’s ‘Suicide Squad’ Went From Promising DC Franchise-Starter to Frazzled Dud



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