14/08/2012 05:19 BST | Updated 13/10/2012 06:12 BST

Giving it the Reboot

It is the era of the reboot. After last month's The Amazing Spider-Man, the release of The Bourne Legacy is upon us, both reviving franchises who only said farewell to their former incarnations in 2007.

Alongside these, we have also had the conclusion of Christopher Nolan's series of Batman films (a reboot which may spawn another reboot); we have had Prometheus which is a reboot of the Alien franchise in a prequel's clothing, and we're about to have Skyfall, the latest instalment in the Daniel Craig starring Bond-reboot. Furthermore, next year we have the sequel to J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot, and Man of Steel: the revival of Superman.

Reboots are everywhere, and their origins are almost always in the fact that the sums add up for the studios, but their ultimate success is dependent on creativity. A new beginning will not in and of itself win over audiences who had become uninvolved by a franchise, nor will it bring an audience who loved a completed series back for another version.

Take the challenge faced by the makers of The Bourne Legacy. The Bourne Ultimatum is a terrific film and a perfect ending to the Jason Bourne trilogy. In fact, it's a strange beast: a brilliant film which left fans saying "No more, please". The story was finished, and the audience was satisfied.

So, Tony Gilroy, who had written for the original trilogy, had to find a way to take the sequel that the studio undoubtedly wanted and make it appealing to a sceptical audience. His response was to accept that Jason Bourne's story was done, but also to see that an intriguing world of espionage had been constructed around that character, and it was worth exploring.

It is yet to be seen whether or not Gilory has done so intriguingly. The worst possible thing he could have done will have been to have created a Bourne clone. The only reason to return to that universe is to do something different.

Which brings us to The Amazing Spider-Man. The decision to reboot the Spider-Man franchise raised many eyebrows. After all the first Spider-Man film is only 10 years old, and Sam Raimi's trilogy signed off with a cacophony of nonsense only five years ago. A fourth instalment was mooted, but ultimately fell through as a new version of the series came in its place.

Critics have been unenthused by Marc Webb's new version. It's different from the Raimi version and is certainly less-cartoony, but it isn't exactly original, fresh or interesting. That's not to say that there aren't elements which work, but on a creative level it hasn't given a flagging franchise a vital and gripping reincarnation.

This is in sharp contrast to Nolan's Batman films, and when you look at them, you quickly see that their success was the result of someone taking a beloved character and finding a new setting for him that was not just different from what the franchise had previously served up, but contemporary as well. The gritty, modern and dark Gotham that Nolan served up banished memories of the high-camp version from Batman and Robin. The same logic goes for the success of Daniel Craig's new kind of Bond in Casino Royale. There was almost a need for those characters to be brought up to their times.

However, needless reboots will fall flat and as they continue to be done just for the sake of cash, eventually audiences will tire, as they do with series that just refuse to stop.

It is hard to imagine anyone rebooting Batman now in a way that audiences will take to in the same way that they've done to Nolan's films. Their story is complete, but there are signs that Warner Bros. are looking to reboot the reboot, a prospect which is filling many fans with enough dread to maybe even stop the new series dead

Looking ahead to next year, Superman is the next character to be facing a reboot, his second in six years, which goes to show that they don't always work. You've got to grip the audience with at least a flavour of originality and verve, and as we get more and more reboots, those qualities may become rarer and rarer, and as they do, the notion of regenerating franchises, which has become Hollywood's golden goose, will die out.