I’m getting a lot of similar questions lately. “Hey, Rob. What do you think about _____?” Maybe I’m being asked about the new Ghostbusters reboot, or Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, 7th Sea, or any other thing that is rising from the ashes. My work on 7th Sea is especially relevant as 2nd Edition is a vastly different beast.
I’m also seeing a lot of friends complaining about these new versions of old things. “That’s not _____!” You can fill in the blank with Superman, the Ghostbusters, Vodacce, or whatever. After all, 7th Sea: Second Edition is not First Edition. Zack Snyder’s Superman is not Richard Donner’s Superman. Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters is not Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters.
As a quick response to this noise I posted the following to my personal Facebook. I thought I’d share my thoughts here and elaborate on the general topic.
It’s not my Batman.
It’s not my Ghostbusters.
It’s not my Leatherface.
And that is OK. I sincerely hope someone out there gets the same enjoyment out of these characters that I did for “my” versions.
Turns out, I’ll always have Bill Murray. And Kevin Conroy. And Gunnar Hansen. There is nothing that can take away the importance these franchises had in my life and maybe, hopefully, someone else will be inspired by these new versions.
The Leatherface example is actually kind of subversive compared to the other two. See, I actually really liked Andrew Bryniarski as Leatherface. Maybe more than Gunner Hansen’s take on the character. If you what a more mainstream example you can look at Mad Max: Fury Road. Tom Hardy was not my Mad Max. I grew up on Road Warrior and Mel Gibson. Except when Fury Road was coming around I was totally on board. Then I saw the movie and Tom Hardy killed it. He replaced Gibson as my Max.
Now, I find it unlikely that Kristen Wiig is going to replace Bill Murray as my Ghostbuster. Maybe. I’d be surprised though. That’s not the important part to this topic. The big take away is that she doesn’t need to be my Ghostbuster. She gets to be someone else’s Ghostbuster.
Maybe there is a little girl living in Minnesota whose parents will take her to see Ghostbusters. She’ll fall in love with the movie and watch it over and over. That movie will be her favorite movie of all time. Over time it’ll shape her personality in small ways. Then she turns 30 years and another new Ghostbusters will be made. She’ll find herself reluctant. After all, that’s not her Ghostbusters. That’s not her Kristen Wiig. (Writing all this is actually inspiring me to bring my daughter to see the new Ghostbusters…)
I hear you though. Fury Road was great. This new Ghostbusters is different enough that it’ll attract a new audience. What happens when that new version is a “negative” take of the thing you love? For example, I’ve been pretty vocal that I found Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel version of Superman really inferior compared to what I’ve recognize as the established character. Man of Steel injected a level of sense of cynicism to a character that just doesn’t seem right to me.
Yes, the new Superman makes me sad. Maybe even a little mad. He’s not my Superman. I just have to remind myself that he’s not meant to be my Superman. Mark Waid already wrote my Superman and called him the Plutonian. I remind myself that it is good thing to challenge norms. An important thing. You’ve got to threaten the establishment. Things must be shaken up, new styles demand to be tried. The punk rocker of my youth rejoices at the idea of “taking it to the man.” Sure, I don’t like what is happening. I don’t have to like it. I just can’t be against it.
I remind myself that changes like these open doors. Doors for a new legacy to step up and fill the shoes left behind. Doors that open on redemption stories. These could just be the “dark days” of the legacy and in ten years we’ll look back and shake our heads at the mistakes of the past. Maybe. Maybe not.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. Zack Snyder’s take on Superman doesn’t erase the hours of entertainment and inspiration I got from the Superman Animated Series. Paul Feig doesn’t get to come to my house and take away my copies of Ghostbusters. When 7th Sea: Second Edition goes to print old copies of 7th Sea: First Edition won’t burst into flames… I hope.
It’s important to remind ourselves that the things we once loved continue to exist when the bright new shiny toy enters the room. When John, Mike, and I sat down and talked about 7th Sea we knew we were going to alienate people. That hardcore fans of the 1st Edition wouldn’t be taking the journey with us. Then we decided that was fine. That we’d rather have two different takes on the same thing and expand the property. I’m sure that Zack Snyder knew he was taking a risk with his version of Superman. He had to have known that hardcore fans would disapprove.
At the end of the day we all decided it was worth the risk. For me… after Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice comes out and I’m itching for some Superman, I’ll go watch Christopher Reeve battle Gene Hackman. After the new Ghostbusters comes out and I just need to know who I’m going to call, I’ll throw in my battered copy and watch Rick Moranis get chased by demonic dogs. When the new Leatherface movie hits the big screen I’ll throw in a classic slasher to watch kids get hung on meat hooks by a man wearing other people’s faces.
Change can be good. Even when it looks bad.