You know, sometimes shit just happens. You take a wildly popular franchise of superheroes and movies, start listening to some really bad ideas and before you know it there are nipples on the Bat Suit, effectively killing 60 years of built up goodwill and great storylines. One bad film is all it can take to bury a great cinematic series. Six feet under. Pushing daisies. DEAD.
But then something amazing happens. A new kid comes around with fresh ideas and a reverence for what made a franchise so good in the first place. Plus, it’s been a few years since the last fiasco so maybe the audience will forgive and forget. All of a sudden you have a great film on your hands that the critics love, the audience will pay big money to see, and voila! The franchise is reborn! Healthier than it has ever been, like it was never dead in the first place! But what does a franchise savior have that previous entries lacked? Read on for the specifics.
Cause of death: X-Men Origins: Wolverine. An unnecessary, thinly plotted and horribly scripted character prequel (Wolverine’s backstory was the focus of the first two movies, dammit!) with shitty CGI? DOA.
Savior: Matthew Vaughn and James McAvoy. Now THIS is a proper prequel. The X-Men are the most prolific comic book stories in existence. There are so many interesting tales to tell you would have to try very hard to mess it up (which totally happened). So how do you take so much potential and turn it into something tangible and real? You take the most interesting mutants, ones with true character histories, and then put them in the hands of a super talented filmmaker with success in the genre. Combine that with one hell of a cast (Jennifer Lawrence! Kevin Bacon!) and, yeah, the X-Men are back.
Also, January Jones' ample cleavage doesn’t hurt.
Cause of death: James Bond didn’t so much die (007 can’t die, remember?) as he became a clown. Sure Pierce Brosnan could spit out witty lines with the best of them, but no one took Denise Richards playing a character named Christmas Jones seriously.
Savior: Martin Campbell and Daniel Craig. When it was first announced that Daniel Craig would be playing England’s most famous spy, the outcry was enormous. He’s blond! He’s tiny! He’s not devilishly handsome enough! Then Casino Royale came out and everyone went “Oh. Never mind.” Sometimes when a franchise dies, in order to bring it back you have to invert everything that caused its demise. So Craig’s Bond doesn’t give a damn whether his martini is shaken or stirred - so what?! And forget the stylized stunts with the hero coming out as well-groomed as ever? Screw that! A sweaty, unpredictable Bond was exactly what the world wanted. Bond came back in a big way, baby.
Cause of Death: Batman and Robin. Nipple suits. Said it once before. Twice is enough.
Savior: Christopher Nolan. Holy shit, this is the textbook example of a franchise being saved. Too much has already been said on how horrible Batman and Robin is and the Oscars, billion dollar box office totals and career defining performances speak well enough for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Take away the camp, the tongue-in-cheekiness, the bloated action stars and replace it with grittiness, darkness and (most importantly) a competent filmmaker. Thanks to Nolan, Batman went from being big-screen joke to a serious character on par with one that Shakespeare would’ve come up with. That’s how you do it folks.
Cause of Death: Exhaustion. The original long-run of this classic British show ran from 1963 to 1989. That’s 26 years to fill with original programming and wildly changing tastes of consumers. Add in some executive meddling and a made-for-TV movie that failed on an epic level and it looked like the Doctor finally bit it.
Savior: Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat. You can’t keep a good man down, but the Doctor? Well, he never really had a chance of staying down anyway. 2005 rolled around and BOOM; Doctor Who was back on the air and better than ever. Everything that brought the series down in the late 80’s was stripped away, leaving the Doctor war-torn but stripped down to his essentials (so no more Time Lords, but plenty of TARDIS and sonic screwdrivers). Throw in some great writing and the Doctor was fully regenerated. However, and this is a unique situation, Doctor Who was practically saved again without dying! It was super saved! Steven Moffat stepped into the head writer’s chair and elevated Who to a degree that few thought possible. He is still running the show and it’s honestly one of the best on television at the moment.
Cause of Death: Exhaustion. Sherlock Holmes never really died so much as faded from popularity. Sure, he’s been featured in more movies, TV shows, books, comics and what have you than any other character, but the people just didn’t really care about him when the Millennium rolled around. So he wasn’t dead, but he was malnourished and forgotten, sitting in the corner trying to warm himself with a single match.
Savior: Guy Ritchie and Steven Moffat. Sherlock got a face-lift from two very different sources and suddenly everyone wanted a piece of the famed detective. First, Ritchie gave the uber-awesome Robert Downey Jr the keys to the flat on Baker St. and, really, that’s all you need to know. Sure, he fought in slo-mo, but he was as whip smart as ever and crimes were solved. Ah, but not everyone enjoys Victorian England. Steven Moffat (saving franchises again!) brought Holmes into the present and what do you know, Sherlock fits right in. Of course a good Sherlock series would be smart, but Moffat made his visually stunning and turned Watson into one bad-ass assistant thanks to Martin Freeman. Even after decades of hanging around solving crimes, these two showed that there was plenty of excitement left for the beekeeper.