It doesn't matter how incredible or what creative talent is on board, someone is always going to have something to say about a property being rebooted. And we've been seeing a lot of reboots recently, from old school television shows to movies not even a couple of decades old. But in comics, reboots are just one of those things that come down the pipeline every so often. And for Marvel Comics, reboots can be either the greatest thing to ever happen to a character or team, or the worst possible thing imagined by its fans. But still, Marvel continues to push the envelope, try new things and breathe new life into characters that are in desperate need of it.
In just the last few years, Marvel has "rebooted" a number of titles, from Punisher donning the armor of War Machine, to the Guardians of the Galaxy getting more in line with their Marvel Cinematic Universe counterparts as the team readied their live-action debut. Entire universes have been wiped out and others created, and new characters have taken on the mantles of the likes of Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, Nova and Ghost Rider. Even teams have been rebooted, with new Avengers, Ultimates and Fantastic Four members cycling in and out on a regular basis. Each time, there's controversy, misunderstanding and some genuine distrust, which leads these reboots to be total hits or total misses. So we're taking a look at 20 reboots that fans had something to say about -- 10 that they loved and 10 that didn't quite strike their fancy.
20 LOVED - ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN
As far as complete and total reboots go, Ultimate Spider-Man takes the cake. Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley successful condensed 70 years of Spider-Man history into a single run, rebuilding Peter Parker, his supporting cast and the legacy of Spider-Man from the ground up. And while things did get pretty dark, Ultimate Spider-Man was ultimately (heh) a contained, emotional story about a young kid who becomes one of the greatest heroes who ever lived.
Plus, this series gave us Miles Morales, which alone places it in high regard. With the Ultimate Universe seemingly still out there, we'd love to see a return to this version of Peter Parker and co., and we reckon other fans would too.
19 REJECTED - GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2013)
Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli's Guardians of the Galaxy had everything going for it. A stellar writer, a phenomenal artist and the impressive backing of a publisher ready to make this ragtag team of space misfits the next big thing. And in its own right, the 2013 Guardians series is fun, exciting and packed with adventure, but its tone set fans off from the jump.
Since 2008, the Guardians of the Galaxy had taken part in a number of universe-shattering events, leading to the loss of both Star-Lord and Richard Rider in the Cancerverse. Cosmic Marvel eventually addressed both returns, but the humor of Guardians at the time left a weird taste in readers' mouths.
18 LOVED - SILVER SURFER (2014)
With the dynamic team-up of longtime Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott and the incredible Allreds, Silver Surfer became a showstopping series that not only helped to re-write the emotional depth of Norrin Radd, but to add so much more to the character and his journey after leaving his post with Galactus.
The series won awards, easily won fans over and remains an extremely touching Silver Surfer adventure and surprising love story, thanks to its main character Dawn. Unfortunately, the Surfer is back to his old ways with Galactus with some major cosmic repercussions. Thankfully, we'll always have this series to look back on.
17 REJECTED - VENOM (2016)
Before the current run of Venom with Donnie Cates and Ryan Stegman, the lethal protector took a villainous turn after leaving Flash Thompson and bonding with criminal Lee Price. The series felt tonally off in a lot of ways, and fans were off-put by the shift from a Venom that was soaring through the galaxy helping people to one taking part in murder and petty crime back on Earth.
The series quickly shifted gears and brought the symbiote home to Eddie Brock before the latest creative team took the reins. It was a small and short reboot, but one that clearly could have been shaped by distaste with Lee Price and Mac Gargan taking centre stage.
16 LOVED - GHOST RIDER (ROBBIE REYES)
Ghost Rider has always been quite the popular character among Marvel Comics fans. Sure, the live-action take on the character featuring Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze didn't exactly set the box office on fire, but that didn't deter Marvel from trying something new and having a new hero don the mantle of Ghost Rider.
That new hero was Robbie Reyes, whose mount is a muscle car and who is really just a kid looking out for his little brother while also being totally warped into a world of Avengers, demons and hellish curses. Robbie Reyes was such a big hit (albeit not commercially) that he made his own jump to live action in Season Four of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
15 REJECTED - ULTIMATES
Ultimates makes this list not because it was disliked by the fans from the start, but because of how it evolved over time. A lot of what Ultimates put down as groundwork for the Ultimate Marvel Universe helped to shape what the Marvel Cinematic Universe would become, it just had a lot else going on.
Ultimates, throughout its volumes, began to devolve into a hyper-violent, cheeky series that fans felt starred caricatures of many Marvel heroes as opposed to their actual selves. Characters like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver and Iron Man and Black Widow got together, while other characters were destroyed terribly.
14 LOVED - CAPTAIN MARVEL (CAROL DANVERS)
For the Captain Marvel fans will see in action in the Marvel Cinematic Universe next year, the creative team of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Dexter Soy and Emma Rios is to thank. While always a fan-favorite character, Carol Danvers' Ms. Marvel deserved an upgrade that would showcase her cosmic abilities while proving just how much of a leader she was.
This rebooted Captain Marvel run gave fans all that and more, while being a stellar commentary on current events and society. To this day, it remains the definitive depiction of Carol Danvers and skyrocketed her into the Marvel Universe-leading hero she is today.
13 REJECTED - NOVA (SAM ALEXANDER)
The reason fans didn't really come through for Sam Alexander's Nova has less to do with the character himself and a lot more to do with how Marvel had been treating Richard Rider, the previous main Nova of the Marvel Universe. Sam Alexander was the complete opposite of Rich.
He was way younger, a bit hot-headed, but he had passion and soul for what his role in the universe was -- and he even came into contact with cosmic Marvel favorites like Cosmo. And Sam clearly made a mark, but not enough to save his own solo series, and he's been rolling with Richard Rider and the Champions since.
12 LOVED - AGENT VENOM
For many fans, the anti-heroic symbiote Venom has been a controversial topic of conversation. Over the years, numerous hosts have donned the black goo to fight crime or be corrupted by darkness, but none seemed to stick besides Eddie Brock. Enter Flash Thompson as Agent Venom.
This new take on the terrifying Venom added nuance and emotional depth to the character, something not really seen since the high points of its time with Eddie Brock. Fans quickly took to Flash Thompson's journey as Venom, his time with the Secret Avengers and his eventual loss of the Venom symbiote and its return to Eddie Brock.
11 REJECTED - FRANKENCASTLE
The story of a man seeking vengeance being revived to enact said vengeance had been seen time and time again. So when Frank Castle was brought back and later dubbed "FrankenCastle," it was hard to feel like this run on the character was anything more than a trope-filled story of mayhem and revenge.
Which, to be fair, is kind of the Punisher's whole thing, but in this case it felt forced and noncommittal to bring the character back, especially after his demise at the hands of Daken. And recent Frank Castle is no stranger to reboots, though his time as War Machine narrowly dodged this list, and seems to be more of a blip than a focus in the Punisher's history.
10 LOVED - ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR
When Marvel was kicking off its Ultimate line of character reboots, the Fantastic Four may have proved to be the most difficult. Characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men easily found their origins nestled into modern society and controversy, while the Fantastic Four always seemed to stay focused on its nuclear family aspects.
But Ultimate Fantastic Four changed all of that, building to an eventual villainous reveal that sent fans reeling and helped to justify the existence of the often-too-gritty Ultimate line of comics. Though, there's not much to be said about what Marvel did with its evil Reed Richards following "Secret Wars" and the demise of the Ultimate Universe. But hey, we guess we'll just have to wait and see what's next -- let's just hope that doesn't include Doom's goat legs.
9 REJECTED - ALL-NEW/UNCANNY X-MEN
In theory, these dueling X-Men series from the mind of Brian Michael Bendis and a stellar creative team across both titles could have been a game-changer in Marvel Comics. One brought the original five X-Men to the present timeline, half resetting X-Men history while still having the team interact with their current day counterparts.
The other was Cyclops and his brotherhood building out a new team of all-new mutants, introducing readers to a slew of awesome X-Men that really haven't been seen since. Both series started strong, but seemed to fizzle out as they played toward major events in the greater Marvel Universe.
8 LOVED - INFAMOUS/INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
Speaking of dueling runs from Brian Michael Bendis, these two are some of the most recent on this list. Say what you will about the fallout of "Civil War II" or "Secret Empire" but they brought us a fantastic new character in Riri Williams and a stellar, canon What If? story in Infamous Iron Man.
These books were short-lived, all things considered, but made the lore of Tony Stark all the more deep, adding nuance to his supporting cast, all in an attempt to get him back into the game -- if he was still alive. While Doom has returned to Latveria, Riri Williams as Ironheart will no doubt have a big part in the future of the Marvel Universe.
7 REJECTED - THUNDERSTRIKE
As Marvel Comics bravely ventured into the last decade of the 20th century, the publisher tried some things with some of its top tier characters. With Thunderstrike, Marvel wanted to invigorate the Thor comics, with Thor sporting a new haircut and not much else.
He was the merged being of Eric Masterson and Thor with a name that just screamed Saturday morning cartoon hero. And while fans might not have been happy with how Thor was treated at the time, there's a bit of cult love for Thunderstrike, though not enough to bring him back from the comics version of Hel.
6 LOVED - HAWKEYE
Matt Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye is the kind of series that doesn't come around all that often. Sure, it was bogged down by publisher delays, but the book itself is a nigh-perfect self-contained story that gives so much heart to Clint Barton, Kate Bishop and everyone from Clint's neighbors to Lucky the dog -- and fans were absolutely having it.
Hawkeye dealt with years of the archer's Marvel legacy, from his ex-wives and womanizing behavior to his hearing difficulties and lack of social skills. Hawkeye brought realism to comics in an artful way, and led to the spotlight for the best Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. What's not to love?
5 REJECTED - ULTIMATE X-MEN
Of all of the Ultimate Comics relaunches, X-Men may have been the one to give Marvel the most trouble. For many, the X-Men were always sort of an embodiment of whatever was happening in society at the time, and reinventing them for the 21st Century meant just suping them up with '90s hairstyles, edgy leather outfits and a bit more grit in their adventures.
Sure, the X-Men film series was just getting up and running and had a lot of similarities to this relaunch, but it also meant that the Ultimate X-Men quickly outstayed their welcome and led to some weird, overly adult and violent comic stories. They were still great in most crossovers though.
4 LOVED - SPIDER-MAN (MILES MORALES)
Miles Morales is not only a phenomenal, revolutionary Marvel Comics character. He's an icon, one whose history is made even stronger in how he got his powers and came to be Spider-Man. In the Ultimate Universe, Miles took on the mantle following the passing of Peter Parker and over a decade of comics leading up to that point.
He was the Spider-Man of his world. Now, he's one of many in the main Marvel Universe, and while his personal story has taken a sideline to crossover events, Miles still plays a major part in shaping the entirety of the Marvel Universe and its lineup of heroes.
3 REJECTED - TEEN TONY
Tony Stark being a teenager in the comics could have easily been something really fun, but ended up seeming extremely corny in the long run. It was a weird time-twisting plot that involved Tony's parents, Immortus and a handful of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
But Teen Tony might have worked better as a brand new character, similar to how Iron Lad or Riri Williams helped to breathe new life into Iron Man's periphery. Though, there is something to be said about the precedent of Tony's relationship to Immortus in the comics. Perhaps a glimpse at that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Probably (hopefully) not.
2 LOVED - MS. MARVEL (KAMALA KHAN)
Kamala Khan is easily one of the greatest Marvel characters to come out of the last 20 years of comics, and a highlight of the publisher's current catalog. Despite her ties to the kind of awkward Terrigen Mist arc that crossed through almost every Marvel series, Kamala Khan quickly made a name for herself as the protector of Jersey City.
Her trials and experiences feel real and relevant, as she handles everything from school and relationships to religion and standing up for what's right. Fans quickly took to her electric personality and are championing for her to make it to the big screen. Sounds like a successful reboot of the Ms. Marvel character to us.
1 REJECTED - HEROES REBORN
The end, pocket universes and a whole mess of Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld's Marvel stylings, "Heroes Reborn" was a major effort to reboot some of Marvel's most important characters with some of the most prolific indie (non-Marvel or DC) creators in the comics scene at the time.
But "Heroes Reborn" felt like an odd, outsourced experiment more than anything, and with the Ultimate Comics universe being just a couple of years away, it left a weird taste in fans' mouths, eventually leading to these heroes being returned to their place in the main Marvel continuity. Thankfully, the Ultimate Comics at least started out in a pretty superb way.