Reflecting on our culture’s penchant for remakes in the NYTBR, James Parker traces the phenomenon to a “commercial factor here: the enormous built-in timidity of the culture industry, which will always be happier with a remake than a new thing. Once youve assembled a hero, a hero that works, you should keep using him. Those weird 70s movies about nobody in particular, with bad lighting and sort of a bummed-out feel at the end who wants to watch them anymore?”

But we don’t just leave the old heroes as they are. We need to find flaws and peccadillos: “We have to give them something, a niggle, a neurosis, some baggage of private pain. Bond goes all stubbly and alcoholic in Skyfall; Willy Wonka had an evil dentist father in Tim Burtons Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who can touch the deep sorrow of Wolverine? And so on.”

I would add: And on and on and on.

More on: Film

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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