The term reboot needs to be retired.
verb – to restart (a computer) by loading the operating system; boot again.
noun – an act or instance of restarting a computer.
This word, as the definition indicates, is a computer term and had no meaning prior to the advent of PCs in the home and at work. The term was hijacked by the motion picture industry in 2005 with Batman Begins. With four prior movies produced by Warner Bros., the last of which was an unmitigated disaster, the studio wanted everyone to know that this film was something new and unrelated to the previous series. It’s no secret that a movie series will sometimes ignore a movie that bombed and just move on with the series as if that embarrassing entry never happened, so WB could have done that with Christopher Nolan’s film. That wouldn’t exactly work, though, because Nolan wanted to tell the origins of Batman, something that had not been done successfully with any of the previous movies; his take would then be a prequel except for the fact that he wanted to include the Joker in his own sequel, thereby nullifying Tim Burton’s Batman. This discontinuity would confuse the audience–how could there be two Jokers, especially with completely different origins and behaviors? Simple, this was a new series that had nothing to do with the previous films. But it wasn’t a remake because, while based on the same source material, it told a completely different story. They needed a new way of explaining what they were doing–hence the cribbing from the computer world.
Audiences bought it. They understood that the series was being “rebooted,” meaning that the old was being erased and a new “operating system” was being written in its place. The old series still existed, but this was a different take on the Batman mythology. The problem was that since the word “reboot” worked in this case, people began adopting it to refer to every instance of a new version of a known product.
Now, every remake and sequel is called a reboot. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is made by other people because the first one was deemed a bad movie, let’s call it a reboot to distance itself from the original! New versions of old horror movies are made and are dubbed “reboots,” even though they tell the same story as the original movies, though perhaps elaborating the story. Even though Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street all spawned multiple sequels, their “reboots” retold their origins. Guess what? Those are remakes. You can argue that the recent versions started the series over again, but unlike Batman Begins, they don’t do a completely different take on the material.
True reboots are:
Casino Royale since it truly started the series from scratch, adapting the first James Bond book Ian Flemming wrote (the only time the book was accurately adapted for the big screen), and ignored everything that came before (though Judi Dench reprising her role as M was confusing in this context).
he Amazing Spider-man did the Batman Begins route and ignoring an established series and telling another origin story as if it’s in an alternate universe.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes due to the fact that it tells the origins of how the apes took over out world but in a completely different manner than the movie it closely emulates, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.
Star Trek is another example as it reboots the series back to basics in an alternate universe.
“Reboot” is a term that is not only incorrectly attributed to the wrong type of movies, but it is overused. It’s now jumped ship to other types of entertainment. Rather than use it as a catch-all for any adaptation, we need to return to using the correct terminology.