Hollywood loves reboots and it seems that comic book companies have a deep love for starting over as well. When it comes to comics, this is nothing new. DC Comics rebooted its entire line when the Silver Age started back in 1956 with the introduction of The Flash. DC Comics then rebooted again in 1986 with Crisis on Infinite Earths, in 1994 with Zero Hour, 2006 with Infinite Crisis, and 2011 with the New 52. Marvel isn’t as egregious with its wholesale reboots, but between the ’90s Heroes Reborn and the new Fresh Start, amongst all of the “all new/all different” rehashes, it makes it hard for old comic book fans to try to care anymore about anything in the Big Two.
However, there are also times in both comic books and Hollywood where a reboot or re-imagining comes along and makes everyone happy. This could be because they fixed something people found bothersome or it could just be a great story that reminded people why they love movies or comics as much as they do. For every reboot of a superhero that makes fans shake their fists in anger, there is one that makes everything ok in the world again. With that in mind, here are eight superhero reboots that fans hated and seven others that fans loved.
15. HATED – SUPERMAN RETURNS
When Christopher Reeve donned the cape, he proved that a man could fly and movie fans all over the world fell in love with Superman. That lasted for a grand total of two movies before a battle with Richard Pryor and the Nuclear Man caused not only fans, but Reeve himself to run away in terror. That made it smart for director Bryan Singer to ignore the third and fourth movie and reboot the Superman franchise with a direct sequel to Superman II.
However, fans hated the reboot, Superman Returns. Brandon Routh did his best Christopher Reever impersonation but there was not enough action, too much drama with Lois Lane and her new family, and it just fell short of what fans wanted a Superman movie to be. Bryan Singer went back to the X-Men and Warner Bros. rebooted Superman again seven years later with the polarizing Man of Steel.
14. LOVED – GIANT SIZED X-MEN
In 1963, Stan Lee created the X-Men. The team consisted of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel and Ice Man — mutants who protected the world and sought acceptance from a public that feared them. However, after 66 issues, fans weren’t connecting and Marvel moved on, seeming to drop the franchise almost entirely, settling simply to reprint the popular issues from the past.
In 1975, things changed and Giant-Size X-Men #1 helped make the X-Men the most popular comic book characters in Marvel Comics history. Knowing a complete reboot was needed, Marvel introduced new mutants like Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Storm, put them in a story where they had to save the original X-Men, and proved fresh characters was all that was needed to turn its success around.
13. HATED – PUNISHER AS AVENGING ANGEL
When it comes to rebooting characters, The Punisher is one that has way too many different gimmicks thrown at him over the years. In the movies alone, there have been three different films and the Netflix series, all different and unconnected. In the comics, Marvel has done a ton to change Frank Castle over the years — with the Garth Ennis reboot the best of them all.
However, there are two Punisher reboots that fans hated from the start. One of them was the Frankencastle story where Daken killed Frank and Marvel’s monsters patched him together and revived him to protect them. That was bad, but the Punisher reboot that fans completely rebelled against was when an angel brought Frank back from the dead and he became an Avenging Angel for Heaven — something that ruined Punisher until Garth Ennis came along to save the day.
12. LOVED – SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
When Sam Raimi made his first Spider-Man movie, it was a huge moment for fans of the Web-Slinger and it only got better when he made Spider-Man 2, with arguably one of the best villains in Marvel movies in Doctor Octopus. However, the wheels fell off the bus when the studio forced him to shoehorn Venom into a movie about Sandman, and Raimi left shortly after that critical failure.
A reboot followed that had more critics than fans and Sony decided to drop that series and hand the movies back over to Marvel to co-produce and spearhead. What resulted was Tom Holland as possibly the best Peter Parker/Spider-Man to date. He excited fans in Civil War and then won everyone over in Spider-Man: Homecoming, bringing a perfect version of the comic book hero to the big screen.
11. HATED – NEW 52 TEEN TITANS
The DC Comics New 52 was a chance for the company to reboot the entire line — something it had done before to better acclaim. While there were high spots in the new lineup of comics, there were also huge disappointments where DC re-imagined characters in ways that caused fans to rebel. The worst of these was the beloved Teen Titans.
There were new heroes on this team and they shared little of the great family dynamic that made the original series so popular. The reboot of Beast Boy in The Ravagers was also hugely disappointing, taking a fun character and making him way too dark — and red. However, the worst reboot came outside of the Titans books, as mainstay Starfire was moved to a book with Red Hood and turned into a hero whose only real character trait was her sexuality.
10. LOVED – AQUAMAN IN JUSTICE LEAGUE
For many years, the biggest joke in DC Comics was Aquaman. It all started back with the classic Saturday morning cartoon Super Friends, where Aquaman was just a guy who talked to fish. For the next four decades, the character never shook the stigma, with shows like Robot Chicken helping to keep him a joke. Even critically acclaimed storylines by writers like Kurt Busiek didn’t stop the jokes.
Enter Jason Momoa and Zack Snyder. While Geoff Johns tried his best to make fans stop considering Aquaman as a punchline with his New 52 reboot actually taking on the trolls, Justice League accomplished what years of comics couldn’t — it made Aquaman finally cool. Now, Aquaman is one of DC Comics’ most anticipated upcoming superhero movies.
9. HATED – CATWOMAN
It seems almost hard to believe that Warner Bros. perfected Catwoman with Tim Burton’s Batman Returns and Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of the Batman antihero. It is hard to believe because 12 years after that pitch-perfect performance, Warner Bros. destroyed female superhero movies for over a decade with the Halle Berry vehicle Catwoman. Of course, Berry went through a similarly uncharacteristic, yet steep decline, herself thanks to the movie!
One year after picking up an Oscar for Monster’s Ball, Berry won a Razzie for this reboot — and reinvention — of Catwoman. Instead of cat burglar Selina Kyle, this reboot has a fashion designer named Patience Phillips who is brought back from the dead by Egyptian cats to become a superhero. She also likes to sniff catnip.
8. LOVED – DAREDEVIL ON NETFLIX
Daredevil was not critically accepted when the Ben Affleck movie hit theaters but has gained a solid fan following based on the director’s cut that came out on DVD. While that movie has a lot of positives in its favor, the theatrical failure meant that Matt Murdoch was not coming back to the big screen anytime soon, although Elektra got her own movie — which was a legitimate critical bust.
However, Marvel seems to have found a niche on Netflix, as it has brought its street-level characters to the streaming giant with almost universal praise (well, outside of Iron Fist). It all started with the reboot of Daredevil, and even fans who like the movie have to admit that this TV series is miles above the previous effort, helping lay the foundation for the Marvel Netflix franchise.
7. HATED – FANTASTIC FOUR
If any superhero franchise has found struggles when trying to make things work on the big screen, The Fantastic Four sits at the top of the throne. It all started back in 1994 when Roger Corman tried to bring the First Family of Marvel to the big screen but refused to release it. After that, a pair of movies hit in 2005 and 2007 that weren’t horrible but failed to match up to the X-Men and Spider-Man movies at the time.
Fox decided to try again in 2015 with Chronicle director Josh Trank and a storyline loosely based on the Ultimate Universe. What resulted was an uneven movie that had an interesting start before a second-half act in the Negative Zone caused critics and fans alike to reject the movie and turn it into one of the most significant superhero bombs of recent years.
6. LOVED – POST-CRISIS SUPERMAN
While the DC Comics New 52 reboot received a lot of backlash for changes made to certain characters, it was not the first time that DC rebooted its entire universe. In 1986, DC Comics published Crisis on Infinite Earths, and much like Flashpoint two decades later, the purpose was rebooting everything and remaking the heroes and stories into situations in the present day world.
Of the many reboots, of which introducing characters like Wally West’s new Flash was a high point, the reinvention of Superman was equally praised. John Byrne took over, rewrote the Superman mythology, reduced his powers and redesigned Lex Luthor into the villain fans love today. It was one of the most successful reboots of a property in comic book history and revitalized the Man of Steel.
5. HATED – TEENAGE IRON MAN
In the ’90s, Marvel Comics made a lot of decisions that fans hated. Mostly, the company was trying to light a spark in a declining comic book industry that looked like it might collapse at any time. Instead of focusing on strengthening heroes and writing compelling stories, Marvel decided to shake things up and throw in complicated tales that changed everything. The change made to Iron Man was one that remains hated by fans to this day.
The Crossing was a storyline which showed that Iron Man was a villain and had only pretended to be a hero while saving the world for the previous two decades of comic book storylines. Instead, Iron Man was working for Kang as a sleeper agent. The Avengers went back in time to get a teenage Tony Stark to help them beat his adult version, and when the adult version dies, the teenage Tony Stark becomes the new Iron Man. It rebooted the character for a younger generation, most of whom hated it.
4. LOVED – TEEN TITANS BECOME YOUNG JUSTICE
This is less of a reboot than it is a promotion or a re-imagining of younger teenage sidekicks. At one time, The Teen Titans were easily one of the most popular DC Comics published. When Teen Titans came to television as an animated series, it maintained its popularity, bringing in a lot of comic book fans who loved the characters and stories.
In the comics, the Teen Titans grew up and became adults, their comic book becoming Titans. To fill the gap for the younger heroes, DC Comics decided to make Young Justice as the new version of Teen Titans, with Superboy, a new Robin in Tim Drake, and Impulse. It was a new team and one that was almost as popular — especially when the TV show debuted in 2010 to great acclaim.
3. HATED – SPIDER-MAN: ONE MORE DAY
One thing that Civil War did was completely screw up the life of Spider-Man. Peter Parker and Mary Jane had gotten married and he was enjoying a nice life — which is never a good thing as far as Marvel is usually concerned. Then, in Civil War, Iron Man convinces Spider-Man to reveal his identity to the world and that put everyone he loved in danger, including Aunt May.
Aunt May gets shot and Peter can’t find a way to save her, even with Doctor Strange helping him. As a result, Peter makes a deal with the devil — or more accurately, Mephisto. As with all deals with Mephisto, it comes with a compromise and Peter agrees to erase his marriage to Mary Jane to bring back Aunt May and make everyone forget his secret identity. It was actually a well-written and touching story, but Spider-Man made a deal with the devil. For most fans, that was the deal breaker.
2. LOVED – BATMAN BEGINS
Tim Burton proved that comic book movies could be box office successes a full decade after Superman reached great success and then flamed out. Much like Superman before it, Burton, in Batman, made two great movies before moving on. Also much like Superman before, the third and fourth Batman movies ended up destroying the franchise. However, unlike Superman, which returned, who a thud in Superman Returns, Batman rose from the ashes with Batman Begins.
Under the guidance of Christopher Nolan, and with Christian Bale as Batman, Batman Begins tells the origin story of the Caped Crusader for the first time, since Burton started with Batman already active. It was possibly the greatest reboot of any comic book hero and led to The Dark Knight, arguably the greatest comic book movie of all-time.
1. HATED – HEROES REBORN: THE AVENGERS
In the ’90s, Marvel Comics was trying to reinvent itself to remain relevant. Thanks to the success if Image, Marvel decided that it needed to be edgy and controversial, so Marvel rebooted the entire line with the Heroes Reborn story. Before this, Onslaught killed The Avengers and Fantastic Four and Marvel rebooted the line with updated heroes, new storylines and new creative teams — the same guys that left Marvel years before to form Image.
The only thing fans seemed to enjoy from the Heroes Reborn era was The X-Men, and the superhero reboot that earned the most hate was The Avengers. The stories were almost parodying the beloved characters and featured artwork that fans hated. After one year, things returned to normal once again.
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