We seem to live in a perpetual cycle of cinematic sequels, prequels, reboots, and universes intertwined to keep us watching forever. Disney recently announced its film schedule until 2027, and an incredible amount of films belong to existing franchises. It seems like we won’t be seeing many new stories hit our screens from the Mouse House any time soon.
Here, we outline some of the most successful franchise reboots in recent memory. To qualify for this list, the films must be a retelling of familiar characters or stories already seen in cinema. How many have you seen?
The Mummy (1999)
Back when Brendan Fraser was a bonafide superstar, he led a new franchise that reboots the Mummy into the 21st century. Weirdly, it worked. Starring opposite Rachel Weisz and John Hannah, the film (and its subsequent sequels) realistically brought the ancient villain to the big screen for three summer blockbusters. Sadly, the 2017 reboot failed to capture audiences’ hearts.
Batman Begins (2005)
The Batman character was in serious trouble after the catastrophic Batman and Robin in 1997. After an eight-year hiatus, Warner Brothers hired Christopher Nolan to reinvent the Dark Knight into a psychologically troubled and realist vigilante. It worked tremendously and the new trilogy became a multi-billion dollar franchise. Its sophomore outing, The Dark Knight, is credited as one of the best superhero films of all time. Today, many fantasy films adopt Nolan’s grounded and gritty style of filmmaking – for better or worse.
Casino Royale (2006)
The James Bond franchise needed a little help being brought into a post-911 21st-century world. While Pierce Bronson made a fine agent, it was Daniel Craig who brought the gritty and real take to the character. Following in the steps of Nolan’s Batman Begins, audiences were growing accustomed to more grounded stories. 13 years later, Craig is still playing the character, proving a successful reboot of the long-running franchise. It is expected that the next film is his last appearance as the character. Will you miss him?
Star Trek (2009)
10 years ago, it would seem almost impossible to imagine the success of Geek Culture in cinema and television. Star Trek proved to be a pivotal player in challenging expectations and bringing a solid action film to mainstream audiences. It balanced a fine line between authentic fan service while entertaining first-time viewers. The reboot spawned two sequels, with a third one on the way. Director JJ Abrams went on to modernize the new Star Wars films a few years later.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was never intended to be a direct prequel to the Planet of the Apes series. However, producers fell in love with the script and thought it would make a good reboot. Attaching it to a popular franchise, they hoped they could fix the mess of 2001’s Planet of the Apes. Well, it worked. Rise of the Planet of the Apes offered a unique take on the origin story for Caesar and the rest of the apes. The reboot became a trilogy that came to an end in 2017.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
The X-Men franchise has been going canon for almost 20 years. After the third outing in 2006, Fox needed to reboot the franchise and so they created a second timeline, taking place as a prequel. X-Men: First Class was largely successful as a film and helped audiences meet new and reinvented characters they liked. Over time, the franchise would become convoluted due to multiple timelines and inconsistent character development. It is expected that this year’s Dark Phoenix will be the last X-Men film in its current iteration. Fans are looking forward to a reboot by Marvel Studios.
Marvel’s Daredevil (2015-2018)
Daredevil was one of the most disappointing films in the golden age of superhero movies. The popular comic book character didn’t get the film adaptation he deserved and his film was largely panned by critics and fans. Thankfully, Marvel and Netflix partnered to produce Marvel’s Daredevil – a gritty and violent reboot on the comic character. The television format allowed showrunners to tell longer and more complex stories without being restricted by Disney’s family-friendly style. Sadly, Netflix canceled the show in 2018. There are no current plans for another reboot.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Even though it exists within the official timeline of the original Mad Max timeline, Fury Road effectively reboots the franchise. It contains brand new characters and stories that genuinely impress both loyal and first time audiences. Tom Hardy takes the driving seat in this exciting sequel that keeps all eyes on the screen. It’s pure excitement, pure carnage, and pure joy. It also helps that George Miller is one of Hollywood’s greatest directors.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Spider-Man fans had to play the long game when it came to a true representation of the character on screen. Fans were disappointed by subpar reboots and Broadway shows, starting with the troubled Spider-Man 3 in 2007. Thankfully, Marvel Studios came to the rescue and helped produce a loyal, entertaining, and heartfelt reboot. Tom Holland perfectly captures both Peter Parker and Spider-Man and the character can swing alongside other superheroes in the MCU. The second in a planned trilogy is hitting cinemas this summer.
Ocean’s 11 (2001)
In order to recapture the charm of the 1960 original, Hollywood assembled its A-Team of then-Hollywood superstars. With a cast that is still impressive to this day, Ocean’s 11 was a charming and captivating take on the conventional heist story. The film became a trilogy that even spawned its own reboot – an all-female Ocean’s 8. It is unclear if Ocean’s 8 will have the same success as its predecessor.
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