This past weekend saw the release of Terminator: Dark Fate, the latest attempt to jumpstart the once proud Terminator franchise. Rather than continuing the story of the most recent film, Terminator Genisys, Tim Miller’s Dark Fate acted as a sequel to the franchise’s last good film, the iconic Terminator 2: Judgment Day, thereby retconning the past three films out of the continuity. It’s an increasingly in vogue approach in an industry driven by franchises, IP and nostalgia.
This type of reboot, variously called a soft reboot, a legacy reboot and a rebootquel, offers a lot of advantages for established film franchises. Rebootquels are a great way to streamline a property’s mythology, paring down franchises that have grown convoluted and unwieldy, and those that have long since fallen from critical and commercial grace. It’s also a way to bring in new audiences while appealing to the nostalgic sentiment of longtime fans.
Legacy reboots aren’t a surefire recipe for success, as evidenced by Dark Fate’s opening weekend. But that doesn’t mean that the concept isn’t a sound one. For example, 2018's Halloween was a huge hit. CinemaBlend’s own Dirk Libbey has argued that more movies need to take Dark Fate’s lead and just ignore their sequels. Ah, but what franchises?
With that in mind, it’s time to look at some other movies that deserve a reboot following the release of Terminator: Dark Fate, but not a total one. These are properties with at least two entries that could use a reset to reinvigorate them by keeping what works and discarding the rest.
Friday The 13th
Perhaps more than any others, iconic horror franchises are in desperate need of some paring down. Like an overgrown jungle, a path needs to be cleared for these franchises to move forward, and if you’re clearing brush, you’re going to need a machete. Yes, I’m talking about Friday the 13th. When a horror villain starts traveling to the future and into outer space, it’s time for a reboot.
Just like 2018’s Halloween succeeded creatively and financially by ignoring all of the sequels to John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, Friday the 13th would be best served by jettisoning everything after the 1980 original. This might be considered blasphemous because the original is actually not considered to be the franchise’s best film by many fans. But 2009’s full reboot didn’t work, so this could be a different way to try and energize the franchise.
Although Friday the 13th is known as the franchise that birthed the iconic horror villain Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask-wearing slasher did not actually appear in the first movie. In the first film, it’s Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees, who is terrorizing the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake. Jason is her son, thought to have drowned years ago.
A legacy reboot could be a way to reintroduce the Jason Voorhees character to audiences in a story that picks up years after the events of the first movie. Bringing things back to the camp and back to that small scale is a strategy that largely worked for Halloween, and it could work here too. Like most things with these established horror franchises, it’s been done before, but it’s about updating it and doing it well. If any horror franchise needs a reboot, it’s Friday the 13th, so maybe a rebootquel is the way to go.
Whether you think it is a Christmas movie or not, there is no question that 1988’s Die Hard is a true action classic. That John McTiernan film worked because Bruce Willis’ John McClane was an everyman. He was an NYPD detective who was way out of his depth dealing with an extremist group, but he rose to the occasion to save the day. Every movie since then has stripped away that everyman quality and inched John McClane closer to superhero status.
If this franchise is to continue, it should get back to basics and no, that doesn’t mean that horrible John McClane origin film that was being talked about, which is a concept that would completely undermine the beloved first film. Unlike some other franchises, Die Hard has more good entries than bad ones, so we don’t need to ignore everything but the first movie. That said, there is some fat to be trimmed.
While I actually like Live Free or Die Hard, I think that movie, as well as the not-at all-good A Good Day To Die Hard, should be stricken from the record. From there, we should get a legacy reboot that falls canonically after Die Hard With a Vengeance. At that point, John McClane still maintains some of his everyman qualities and the franchise’s most popular installments remain in the continuity.
Like Terminator: Dark Fate attempted to do, Die Hard needs to go smaller. John McClane doesn’t need to save the world; he just needs to stop a group of bad guys, save a few people and make some great quips along the way.
In 2017, Universal Pictures attempted to kick off its Dark Universe franchise and reinvent the Universal Monsters properties in one fell swoop with The Mummy. That plan failed miserably, killing the franchise before it even got started. If The Mummy is to have a future, Universal Pictures would do well to look to the past and finally bring back the Brendan Fraser Mummy franchise.
Our own Mike Reyes has written about why The Mummy 4, which never happened, finally needs to be made. I tend to agree, but think that The Mummy 4, should be actually be The Mummy 3. A reboot that went back to the Brendan Fraser-led series would obviously eliminate the Tom Cruise film, but if we’re being honest, the third Mummy film could probably use the boot as well.
Rob Cohen’s The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was not as good as Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, so I say reboot and continue the story after the second movie. This might seem unlikely, but such a rebootquel could also bring back Rachel Weisz’s Evelyn. Maria Bello replaced Rachel Weisz in the third movie, and nothing against Bello, but I think most Mummy fans would want this franchise to come back with the original duo of Brendan Fraser's Rick and Rachel Weisz's Evie.
We could use more fun, somewhat campy, old school action movies like The Mummy in today's marketplace. The rebootquel path would discard this franchise’s weakest installments and allow for a new movie that hits all the right nostalgia buttons.
Speed is a true classic, featuring future Oscar winner Sandra Bullock and future action icon/beloved immortal Keanu Reeves. Speed 2: Cruise Control is well, not that. Sandra Bullock does reprise her role as Annie Porter, but she can’t save this cruise ship from sinking. Speed 2 is widely considered to be one of the worst sequels of all time, made all the more disappointing by how awesome the first movie is.
You can’t really call Speed a franchise, but Speed is still a great movie, and if Hollywood insists on rebooting whatever it can, Speed is a movie that at least deserves a mulligan. Therefore Speed should get a rebootquel that effectively serves as Speed 2. There’s only one way this would work though, and that’s if both Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock were willing to return. Keanu Reeves sat out Speed 2 after reading the script, which was a wise decision in hindsight.
So if a Speed 2 were to happen, it would have to bring back Jack Traven and reunite him with Sandra Bullock’s Annie Porter. Keanu Reeves has gone back and forth over the years, but he has expressed some openness to the idea of a Speed 3. A rebootquel could pick up the story years after the events of the first Speed, which saw Jack Traven and Annie Porter save a bus full of people and each other, ultimately sharing a kiss at the end of the movie.
Whether these two characters stayed together or some serendipity unites them years later, a reboot could again see the two teaming up to stop some catastrophic event. It doesn’t just have to be stopping something that’s going fast from exploding either; it could be some other kind of race against the clock that would still fit within the franchise’s ethos.
Terminator: Dark Fate brought James Cameron back into the fold to help reboot a property that he started with 1984’s The Terminator, and that’s not the only franchise he’s had a hand in that could use a reboot. Unlike Terminator, James Cameron didn’t start the Alien franchise; he came in for the second installment, and arguably the last truly great one, 1986’s Aliens. But now, the Alien franchise is in trouble and could use some serious help. Perhaps a rebootquel could do the trick.
Following Cameron’s Aliens, the franchise decreased in quality with Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. More recently, franchise creator Ridley Scott attempted a soft reboot of sorts with the prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Despite its flaws, I think Prometheus has some really compelling ideas and was a cool direction for the franchise. Unfortunately, Alien: Covenant largely abandons those ideas to turn this alien franchise into Westworld in space, and the box office ultimately suffered for it.
Now under the Disney banner, Alien could use a fresh start, and given the sacred status of the first two installments, a legacy reboot might be the best option. A reboot could ignore everything after Aliens and go from there. We don’t need to know anymore how the Xenomorphs came to be, just give us some sci-fi horror and some action and you’re good to go.
We almost got something of a legacy reboot for the Alien franchise with Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5, which would have seemingly ignored Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection by following Hicks and a grown up Newt. That never happened, but perhaps it is time to revisit that idea. And even if Neill Blomkamp doesn’t do it, this franchise could use some new creative blood to get things back on track.
Terminator isn’t the only franchise starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that could be revitalized by a reboot. Unlike Terminator, the Conan franchise has been dormant for eight years, and it only has three films to its name in total: the original Conan the Barbarian, the sequel Conan the Destroyer and 2011’s disappointing reboot with Jason Momoa. So while the franchise isn’t particularly unwieldy, it hasn’t been relevant in some time. It’s still a property with potential though, and if done the right way, a rebootquel could perhaps bring it back to prominence.
Strangely, unlike some of the other entries on this list, Conan almost got a rebootquel following the failed attempt to kickstart a franchise with the 2011 movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger has long wanted to make a third Conan movie, at times titled either The Legend of Conan or Conan the Conqueror. This film would have gone the rebootquel route, ignoring the PG-rated sequel Conan the Destroyer and only acknowledging John Milius’ original 1982 R-rated Conan the Barbarian.
Conan the Conqueror was pitched as having an Unforgiven-vibe, finding Arnold’s character as king, as was teased in the original movie. It would still work too because the idea was to have Conan as a broken down old king who is no longer the strongest like he once was. Frankly, it’s an awesome concept and exactly the tack a reboot of Conan should take.
After Game of Thrones, epic fantasy properties are getting adapted to screens big and small so the time may be ripe for a Conan comeback. A dark, gritty and violent fantasy film like this (or perhaps a TV series) could really find an audience nowadays. There is a new Red Sonja movie in the works, so maybe there’s even crossover potential, but first we need to see the Conan the Conqueror rebootquel.
In the current IP-driven Hollywood, there is little doubt that these franchises will continue, it’s just a matter of how and when. And while there are plenty of other franchises in need of a reboot, from Highlander to A Nightmare on Elm Street, these franchises seem like the best candidates for a reboot in the style of Terminator: Dark Fate.
Let us know which franchise you want to see get a rebootquel in the poll below and check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see what other movies are headed to theaters this year.