With X-Men: Days of Future Past’s release, the comic fans rejoiced. Without spoiling too much, the film rewrites many of the wrong-doings of the past films. Many fans claim the movie justified the events of the prior films and rebooted the saga without a total reboot (including recasting and re-telling of the origin story). Is it possible for one film to completely turn around the fate of a movie franchise?
After Tim Burton’s Batman films, the franchise took a turn for the worse. Joel Shumacher produced the more family-friendly Batman Forever as well as Batman and Robin. The casting choices and plot were beyond questionable. After such beloved films starring Michael Keaton as the caped crusader, the world was given these terrible films. It wasn’t until Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins that the Batman franchise saw redemption. Fans consider Nolan’s saga to be the saving grace of DC films. While it could not erase the wrongs of prior Batman films, it certainly gave us high hopes for the future.
Often times, directors will try to right old wrongs by continuing a franchise with a new actor and crew instead of rebooting the franchise. This was the case with The Incredible Hulk. The first movie failed to meet expectations and is widely considered a terrible film, plans for a sequel continued. The continuation replaced Eric Bana with Edward Norton. This film did little more than continue the series. It also failed to meet expectations. The Hulk wouldn’t see his character redeemed until Mark Ruffalo took the reigns as Dr. Bruce Banner in Marvel’s The Avengers.
It seems the best route to take with redeeming a franchise is rebooting the films. It is not always plausible to completely start over on a series. While recasting actors has seemingly worked for The Hulk (upon the third try) often times, Hollywood leans toward rebooting the films.
The issue with rebooting films is that you’re asking fans to completely forget the prior films. While some may not be fans of Toby Maquire’s Spider-Man, the films were still very profitable and parts of them were great. Fans can’t simply ignore that these prior films exist, especially if they enjoyed them. The Brilliance of X-Men: Days of Future Past is that the prior films can still exist and stand alone while continuity is allowed to slide for the newer films. The movie rebooted the franchise without recasting the entire X-Men team and without remaking the origin stories.
As Comic book movies continue to be a hit in the box office, the films will continue to add more heroes and villains as well as recasting of popular characters who failed to meet expectations. The world of comic films will continue to ask us to wipe our memories of their past mistakes. No franchise is perfect but X-Men took the best route possible in fixing prior errors while allowing new films to have freedom from the history written by the older movies.