Neil Calloway argues that sometimes a rest is a good as a change when it comes to franchises…
There doesn’t need to always be Batman; the sky won’t cave in if nobody is wearing his suit. The Terminator movies were a couple of good films twenty five years ago; there have now been more bad than good Terminator films. It’s time to move on. Like a hasbeen singer belting out his thirty year old one hit wonder, it gets the point when it’s just embarrassing for everyone involved.
Franchises are best when there has been a substantial gap between movies (we’ll ignore the Star Wars prequels here, the failure of which rests on nobody saying “I don’t think that’s a good idea, George”). I’d bet good money that your favourite Bond movie was one that came after a longer than average break. It’s the same with TV shows; Doctor Who only worked again after a huge gap between the original cardboard sets and quarry locations of the original and the newer version. I’d argue that the series is in need of another break to regenerate the excitement. The Walking Dead is nearer dead than walking now. The franchises are a combination of the surprising and the familiar. If you’re over 30 you’re on your fifth big screen Batman, and there was quite a hefty gap between the films as well. It’s too familiar now.
The best Batmans – Burton’s and Nolan’s – came after long gaps in big screen adaptations. Nobody really wanted another one, and if we’re honest Affleck wasn’t the first choice, probably didn’t want to do it himself, but got offered a ludicrous money and was told he could direct so took it. He’s now regretting it, and despite Kevin Smith saying he’d be the best Batman (and then saying his first outing had no heart – the lesson here is not to listen to a word Kevin Smith says), it’s clear his heart isn’t really in it.
Films won’t be successful just because the studio wants them to be; there has to be, despite everything, a spark of wit or creativity. A franchise name alone will only get you so far. Just ask the Fantastic Four. Countless “safe bets” have bombed at the box office, and hundreds of small movies have become unexpected hits.
The studios would be far better off if they stopped developing films people are only making due to contractual obligation, and gave some young writers and directors – the sort of people they would chew up and discard on a franchise movie in a few years anyway – the money to make their own film. How do you think franchises like Star Wars and Terminator started out anyway?
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.