Despite winning an Oscar, the general opinion of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad isn’t exactly what you’d call favorable. It’s a product of a time when DC’s cinematic universe was a miserable place to spend time in. But then something funny happened: Wonder Woman was released, it turned out to be a great movie, and most subsequent DC movies have also been really enjoyable.
DC has been so good lately that even the new Suicide Squad is an exciting project. That’s because the company recruited James Gunn to helm the next installment of the saga. For a while, we assumed he was directing a sequel that would get the franchise back on the track. However, according to producer Peter Safran, the next iteration of the antihero faction’s cinematic adventures will ignore the last attempt completely. He revealed to JoBlo:
“[D]on’t call it ‘Suicide Squad 2′ ’cause it’s a total reboot, so it’s ‘The Suicide Squad,’ and I think people should be extremely excited about it.”
Starting from scratch is a good idea. Gunn isn’t the type of filmmaker you bring in to pick up the pieces. You hire him to do his own thing. Taking a group of comic book outcasts and turning them into beloved box office Viagra is his specialty. If anyone can make Suicide Squad fresh and exciting, it’s him.
Still, franchises that have been rebooted after a single movie haven’t encountered the best luck in the past. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some previous examples of franchises that were refreshed after one movie and see how they fared.
The law enforcer of 2000 A.D.’s comics was brought to life for the first time in 1995. The results weren’t great. The source material is thought-provoking, violent, and rife with satire. The movie, starring Sylvester Stallone as the eponymous character, served as nothing more than a vehicle for an egotistical action star (who I love dearly) to do his thing.
Of course, the movie’s failure to understand the source material is the least of its problems — blame Rob Schneider as Dredd’s goofy sidekick as the main one — but it certainly didn’t help. The movie bombed spectacularly and angered fans of the comics and general moviegoers alike.
The 2012 reboot, however, was a much better Judge Dredd movie. Karl Urban was born to play the titular harbinger of justice and the movie itself, simply titled Dredd, retained some of the comics’ spirit. That said, despite garnering critical acclaim and a diehard fan base, the film’s underwhelming box office performance effectively killed any chance of a sequel.
One could be forgiven for believing that 2011’s Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a sequel to the first movie, 2007’s Ghost Rider. Both films star Nicolas Cage as the flaming biker, after all, and reboots tend to cast brand new actors for the most part.
However, according to Spirit of Vengeance co-director Brian Taylor, the second installment is “pretty much a reboot.” When he and his compatriot, Mark Neveldine, agreed to helm the project, they demanded to hit the reset button. With the exception of Cage returning anyway…
Still, neither movie made an impact, even though Spirit is one of the best superhero movies ever made and deserved to dominate.
Video game movies rarely succeed, so it’s unsurprising that the first Hitman movie was quite bad. But, unlike most movies on this list, Hitman actually performed impressively at the box office and a sequel was in the works. Unfortunately, the film’s main star, Timothy Olyphant, had no interest in reprising the role of Agent 47. In fact, he only accepted it in the first place to pay for a house.
In 2015, Hitman: Agent 47 rebooted the franchise, this time with Rupert Friend playing the bald assassin. The movie was also met with negative critical reception, though it did gross over $80 million internationally against a budget of $35 million. Hardly a failure, but far from awe-inspiring. Don’t expect a sequel anytime soon.
The Incredible Hulk
Ang Lee’s 2003 attempt to give Marvel’s big, green monster his own blockbuster was an admirable one. Hulk is more thoughtful than most superhero movies released in the early 2000s, opting for a more soulful approach to the character as opposed to prioritizing the chaos and destruction.
The film was also successful and received some positive reviews. A sequel was even in the works until 2006, but Universal’s inability to meet Marvel’s deadline ended that idea. Afterward, the project was reimagined to launch Hulk’s tenure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Incredible Hulk was released as the second MCU flick and the rest is history.
That movie’s star Ed Norton, who filled the title role portrayed by Eric Bana in Lee’s movie, also parted ways with the character after its release. He was replaced with Mark Ruffalo. Fortunately, his version of the Hulk has remained a permanent fixture in the MCU throughout the years.
This franchise has never enjoyed much success on the big screen. The original Punisher movie from 1989, starring Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle, more or less ignored the majority of the Marvel lore in favor of a standard ‘80s action movie. After taking a critical panning and bombing at the box office, Castle returned to the sewers until 2004.
The Punisher reboot, starring Thomas Jane as the titular avenger, incorporated stories from the comic books and gave Castle his skull attire. Despite being too melodramatic at times, it’s a more honest interpretation of the source material it’s based on. The movie was a moderate success and a sequel was in the works for a while. Unfortunately, creative differences behind the scenes and budget issues caused Jane to walk away.
After that, the series was rebooted once again with Lexi Alexander at the helm and Ray Stevenson taking on the iconic central role. Punisher: War Zone is one of the best movies based on a Marvel property out there, but it wasn’t able to help the franchise find its groove. To this day, we’re still waiting for an onscreen Punisher project that has a long-term shelf life.