The Boyfriend and I were talking the other day about the timeline for James Bond – how Casino Royal through to Skyfall appear to be prequels to the rest of the series, and yet at the same time sequels. It was twisting the Boyfriend’s brain into knots trying to work it out.
For me, Casino Royal is not a sequel, but a Universe Reboot.
It’s not an uncommon phenomena in comic book stories, where, every once in a while, the writers start a whole new story sequence, where different things happen, resulting in multiple universes with the same characters.
The new Star Trek films did a particularly elegant Universe Reboot, in a way that made the writer inside me squirm with pleasure. By using a time traveller to interrupt the past, it allowed the writers to have all the same characters that everybody knows and loves (apart from me, I was never a Trekky) while having a blank slate to play with them on in a way that doesn’t contradict what’s gone before. Because now, nothing has gone before. It’s all been overwritten. Having Leonard Nimoy to tie the two threads of reality together was a particularly ingenious move, filled with nostalgia for those familiar with the character, while not being disorienting for those who weren’t. With Spock as such a cult figure, you don’t need to know anything about him to know enough.
It’s a great way to modernise and update franchises that have a lot to love about them, and huge fan followings, but don’t necessarily work well in a modern context. If Bond had continued to force himself on daft women who did nothing but look good, I doubt many modern viewers would be too impressed, and while there will always be sticklers who say that you shouldn’t change anything, that you should stay true to the originals in every way, I think this evolution of franchises has produced some superb films and stories in the past few years.
I loved the Star Trek film, and look forwards to the next one (hello, Benedict Cumberbatch). Like I said, I’m not a Trekky, but the film was accessible for new audiences, without stepping on the toes of too many of the old audience. Bond took three attempts to get it right, but Skyfall was honestly the best Bond film yet in my opinion.
With a lot of producers seeing easy money to be made in picking up these sorts of franchises – new Star Wars films on the way – I hope that more clever, inventive writers come along and reboot a few more universes in ways that are at once faithful, but also fresh and modern.