I recently watched The Amazing Spider-Man, and while there are some nice qualities about the film — I liked the new costume and Spider-Man looked and behaved closer to the comics template than the Raimi/Maguire series — I ultimately felt disappointed by the experience. I’m not talking about the acting, the script or the visual effects; but the need that Hollywood felt to restart from scratch and tell the exact same story yet again — missing out on one of comics’ greatest characteristics: the continuation of a story (or series) with different creative teams. Spider-Man has been going on for 700 issues, with Batman and Superman having passed similar numbers. All three have have successful media franchises in film, TV, games, you name it; their origin stories firmly established and part of pop culture lore.
Except it apparently isn’t. The Amazing Spider-Man effectively disavows the Raimi trilogy, and the upcoming Man of Steel will yet again retell the Superman origin. Nolan already did it with great success on Batman, and now it remains to be seen if the powers that be will find full reboot necessary when the franchise gets resurrected instead of picking up the baton and running with it. Going back to comics, you see writers and artists come and go on titles, with some leaving a lasting legacy that in turn inspires subsequent creative teams. But not every creative team switch results in a fresh start wiping out the continuity. So why shouldn’t it work in film? Compare the Raimi/Maguire run with Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s tenure, and the current Webb/Garfield run with the Gerry Conway & Ross Andru creative team that followed them.
What you get is two very distinct creative arcs that belong to the same story. A retelling of the origin often happened using a flashback device, making it part of the creative team’s tenure, acknowledging the previous team — a trick used to great effect in Louis Leterier’s Incredible Hulk.
I get that if something doesn’t work (or gets run into the ground) you try again — both Batman film cycles are a good example of that. Superman Returns had good but misguided intentions in trying to pick up the baton, but the Spider-Man series didn’t really need a reboot despite the convoluted 3rd chapter in the Raimi trilogy.
Just as a big number 1 on a comic cover will pull in the punters (see DC’s New 52 and Marvel NOW), so does the new shine of a rebooted superhero franchise. Yet the Bond film franchise manages to churn out 23 movies without the complete need for a full reboot whenever a new face comes along. I’d much rather see a “Previously…” recap that lasts 5 minutes instead of one that takes 90 minutes.