Rebooting is the norm these days. Whether it's a film franchise injecting some new blood into the cast and going with a 'darker, grittier' setting or a tech company rebuilding its failing reputation with a seminal product.
From Aston Martin to Apple, Batman to to VR, We've rounded up some reboots that really did the job, and a couple that were, let's say, a bit less successful.
In 1997, following the abject failure of Steve Jobs’ post-Apple NeXT start up, he returned to the computer company – a business he co-founded in 1976 – and with just the small matter of a $150m loan from his besties at Microsoft, he rolled up the sleeves of his black polo neck, pushed his glasses back up his nose and went about reinventing the company. 18 years and some legendarily well-executed product launches later, and Apple is the biggest company in the world. The home of the iPod, iPhone, iPad and Watch is currently sitting pretty with $178 billion in the (mostly offshore, obvs) bank.
Demonstrating a curious sine wave of console success, Nintendo followed the ignominious GameCube cycle with the Wii in 2006, a console of such gleeful obviousness – this here wireless stick is a tennis racquet! And a sword! And a steering wheel! – that it quickly became the runaway last generation winner, selling over 100 million units to date, with the Wii Sports game pushing over 82million copies. The Wii U may not be doing quite so well, but Nintendo is still the world’s biggest games company by revenue, has flopped its bum down on a nest egg of around $10 billion in cash reserves, and recently announced its entry into mobile gaming. Mario is going nowhere.
In 1997 the Batman franchise was mostly a careening, toy-flogging juggernaut, with camp pun-fest Batman & Robin being so entirely awful that proposed sequel Batman Triumphant was less “canned”, more “nuked from orbit.” Its star, George Clooney has been apologising ever since, recently admitting, “I so terribly destroyed the part.” Then Brit director Christopher Nolan took the reins, stuck friend-of-lighting-technicians Christian Bale in the cape and cowl, gave him laryngitis, turned the lighting down to “squinty” and saw the franchise pass $1.1bn in revenue, while snaffling two Oscars and a BAFTA. Textbook.
WINNER! Tomb Raider
Buggy, uninspired, demonstrably unfinished and just plain sucky, 2003’s Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness marked a creative nadir for one of gaming’s most-loved franchises, resulting in original studio Core Design being kicked to the curb. Then, in 2013, current publisher Square Enix rebooted the thing with a younger, more vulnerable Lara Croft exploring her origins story on a foreboding, stormy island. Strangely, a month after release, following what were perceived as troublingly middling sales, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada announced his resignation, but the game has since gone on to sell over 8.5 million copies, making it the best selling Lara Croft title. Proving that you should always play the long game, Yoichi-san.
WINNER! Matthew McConaughey
After years in the well-paid wilderness as the go-to guy for low budget rom-coms with a golden-hued, airbrushed poster and a four-star quote from Glamour magazine, McConaughey has weathered the storm and transitioned from naked bongo-playing curio to serious thesp, winning an Oscar, two Emmys and a Golden Globe for Dallas Buyers’ Club, fronting Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed, noodly sci-fi epic Interstellar and knocking True Detective out of the TV ballpark alongside Woody Harrelson. The dude’s on a roll. And by all accounts is one of the nicest men in Hollywood. So, yay karma!
WINNER! Doctor Who
A tired laughing stock of cardboard sets and risible storylines with a budget of five pounds and some pocket fluff, the Beeb finally put the much-loved but artistically bankrupt cult franchise out of its misery in 1989. Then, in 2005, Doctor Who was rebooted with a serious warchest, buzzy writer Russell T Davies at the helm and Christopher Ecclestone’s leather jacket as shorthand for a darker, edgy tone. The result won enormous acclaim, and has been carefully steered to huge success. It’s currently shown in over 50 countries and is a major money spinner for BBC Worldwide (the corporation’s commercial arm). A motion picture is in the works too, a gold star endorsement of artistic success.
WINNER! Virtual Reality
Nintendo released the Virtual Boy – a 32-bit, 3D gaming headset – in Japan in July 1995 and this virtual reality console was expected to launch a new paradigm in gaming. It didn’t. In fact, it did so badly that it essentially killed VR gaming dead for 20 years. Now VR is more ubiquitous than Ant ’n’ Dec, with Facebook writing a cheque for $2.3bn last year for VR start up Oculus Rift, and PlayStation’s Project Morpheus, Microsoft’s HoloLens, Valve and HTC’s Vive and Samsung VR all jostling for our ADHD seconds. Strap an Oculus to your forehead though, and you’re pretty much an instant evangelist (if you don’t chunder, that is). 2015 could well be the year of VR. 2016, definitely. OK, almost certainly 2017.
WINNER! Aston Martin
Aston Martin changed hands four times between the 1970s and 1990s. Its various venture capitalist owners screwed together vanity coupés with all the build quality of a cereal box left out in the rain. Then Ford stepped in to take over the company in 1991 and launched the all-new DB7 two years later, revolutionising Aston’s old school manufacturing process and pulling them into the automated manufacturing era. Each car that followed looked sexier, went faster and built on the success of the last, resulting in the current, viciously desirable 2015 range. A multi-picture Bond deal for the gorgeous and blisteringly fast DBS secured Aston’s place as a modern icon and the company regularly tops sniffy best brand lists the world over. Reinvention: complete.
WINNER! David Bowie
An artist who’s made reinvention an art form with his Ziggy Stardust persona in 1972, the Thin White Duke of 1976, the Berlin Era of the late 70s and – oh, God! – Dancing in the Street. Then a heart attack and consequent emergency surgery in 2004 caused Bowie to scale back his involvement in the music industry. But in March 2013 Bowie released The Next Day, his first studio album in a decade. Critics hoovered it up like crystal meth, and it was followed by a retrospective at the V&A Museum, which subsequently embarked on a world tour. That’s the only world tour we’ll get from Bowie now, it seems, as we’re told he has no intention of taking the stage again. But what a comeback!
WINNER! Star Wars
Between 1977 and 1983, George Lucas established pretty much the definitive sci-fi space opera with the original Star Wars trilogy. 16 years later he dropped his trousers and curled out a stinking turd hat on our goodwill with Episodes I to III, a confused CGI spaff about trade treaties and a bet to commit the worst dialogue to digital film ever. Since sold to Disney for over $4 billion, JJ Abrams effortlessly patched up all of Lucas’s damage with three words of Han Solo’s grinning The Force Awakens trailer closer. Please don’t mess this up. Please don’t mess this up. Please don’t…
WINNER! George Foreman
Charismatic slugger George Foreman first won the world heavyweight championship in a 1973, beating Joe Frazier before retiring in 1977, aged 28. A whisker from bankruptcy in 1987 he returned to the ring 10 years later and, during a third stint chewing a mouthguard, he became the oldest man to reclaim the title, aged 45 in 1994. But it was his partnership with Russell Hobbs Inc, putting his name to a plastic-wrapped grill, which proved to be Foreman’s foremost renaissance. It’s made him more money than any of his punches thrown, his current worth is reportedly around $200 million.
WINNER! David Icke
A failed Coventry City youth team goalkeeper and unremarkable BBC sports journalist, David Icke surprised everyone and secured his place in history by proclaiming himself “son of the Godhead” on Terry Wogan’s chatshow in April 1991 and subsequently publishing writings suggesting that that human beings originated in a breeding program run by a race of reptilians called Anunnaki from the Draco constellation, with our Royal Family, for instance, being less blue-bloods than flippy-tongued cold bloods. Surprisingly this has become curiously lucrative, with Icke selling out venues around the world with his rambling, 8-hour-long lectures and thriving book, merchandise and clothing brands. A fool and his money, eh?
The Man Of Steel is the franchise that just keeps on smacking on those hurdles. Poor old Brandon Routh donned the red cape in 2006 to booing and popcorn throwing in Bryan Singer’s depressingly middling franchise reboot. Wardrobe-jawed Brit Henry Cavill then took director Zack Snyder’s dollar for the 2013 movie that even General Zod couldn’t save and reaction has been similar to discovering a dog egg on your new trainers for April’s first trailer of Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Oh dear.
LOSER! Sony Walkman
In the 80s, Sony bestrode the world of personal music players like a colossus in foam headphones, making the tape cassette Walkman and later CD Discman as ubiquitous on pastel-coloured jeans as canvas belts and twirly-corded keyfobs. Since then, it's been absolutely monstered by Apple, whose iPod reinvented the personal music player, cornered the market and kicked off its unstoppable trajectory to become the world’s biggest company. Sony still makes Walkmans. They’re still pretty good. But no-one wants them.