When it comes to making movies, few approaches meet more mixed results than the ‘reboot’. When it works you get Heath Ledger snarling “why so serious?” at Maggie Gyllenhaal. When it fails however, you get Seth Green banging on about Napster in an evisceration of a Michael Caine classic for no reason other than to fill billboards. It was Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins which first opened the world up to the possibilities of the gritty reboot, bringing the revisionist-superhero tale from the page to the big screen. Outside of superhero movies Alfie and Arthur illustrated the risks of cutesy cash-in reboots, but whilst the potential of the “re-envisioning” might have been lost on man-child drunks and agony–uncle misogynists, the Hollywood practice of having an idea twice has never been as rife- or as promising, as it is today in the superhero genre.
In the last few days Brad Caleb Kane (a writer and producer for the show Fringe) has been picked up to start work with David Slade on a gritty reboot of Marvel’s Daredevil franchise. For a comic fanboy like me this is good news on par with news of the royal wedding to people who just weren’t ready to let Diana rest. The Daredevil series is legendary for its pantheon of fantastic writers (Frank Miller, Ed Brubaker, Michael Bendis and even the filmmaker Kevin Smith, if you don’t recognise these names do yourself a favour and go on amazon NOW). In light of this, many fanboys feel as though we are owed something after 2003’s piss poor rendition, a sub Spiderman cash-in which dealt with such important existential questions as ‘how does an expert assassin deal with a chatty old lady?’ and ‘are we low enough to include a see-saw in this fight scene? ’
It’s a dark tale in which Daredevil’s addict ex-girlfriend sells his identity to a dealer in exchange for heroin, prompting months of psychological torture for Matt Murdock as the Kingpin systematically dismantles his life.
Kane and Slade have confirmed on twitter that they are hoping to adapt the story from the classic DD tale from 1986 Born Again, a dark tale by Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli- the team behind Batman: Year One, which heavily informedChristopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. It’s a dark tale in which Daredevil’s addict ex-girlfriend sells his identity to a dealer in exchange for heroin, prompting months of psychological torture for Matt Murdock as the Kingpin systematically dismantles his life. Choosing a story which doesn’t include an ‘origin’ element is obviously risky, but such stellar material bodes well for the prospect of a Daredevil movie more in keeping with the tone and prestige of the long-running comic book.
Daredevil isn’t the only gritty Marvel tale in the works either. As I write The Social Network’s Andrew Garfield and Superbad’s Emma Stone are teaming up with director Mark Webb for a darker look at the Spiderman franchise. After the previous director, Sam Raimi, left the Spiderman 4 project following ‘creative problems’ with Sony (probably a good idea seeing as Raimi is responsible for the highly questionable decision to illustrate the onset of megalomania and psychopathic bloodlust brought about by exposure to the symbiote through a jazz number and Tobey Maguire with a sidefringe). Early details are sketchy at best, but what we know so far is that this film is set in Peter Parker’s high school years and features Rhys Ifans as Dr Curt Connors aka the Lizard. Leaked on-set photographs indicate the use of wires to make the web swinging appear more realistic (although in fairness to Raimi, the old web swinging sequences were pretty fantastic). These two movies, coupled with the recent Thor movie, the soon-to-arrive Captain America and the much anticipated Avengers movie could potentially catapult Marvel into the same leagues as Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy for superhero movie respectability.
Finally we have Dark Night Rises, the final instalment of Nolan’s apotheosis of fantastic realism (until he reboots Superman with Zack Snyder). Details are emerging very slowly, but so far we know that Anne Hathaway is down to play Selina Kyle (the Catwoman) and Inception favourites Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitthave made the cast list; Hardy playing the iconic villain Bane, and JGL playing a new hotshot cop in Commissioner Gordon’s anti-bat police division. Batman is due for release in 2012, all in all it’s a pretty good time to be a geek, just don’t mention Green Lantern.
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