Three of the four highest-grossing movies at the box office last week were Spectre, the 24th installment in the James Bond franchise; The Peanuts Movie, a kind-of greatest hits tribute to Charles M. Schulz’s classic comic strip that stopped publishing in 2000; and Goosebumps, based on the beloved kids book series written by R.L. Stine. The trailer for Zoolander 2 was released today, Stars Wars: The Force Awakens is the most anticipated movie of the year, Tomb Raider is getting a reboot, and Christopher Nolan’s Memento, a remake.
Expect Alf Pogs any day now.
We’re living in a reboot culture, where everything old will be slapped with a new coat of paint. It’s not a question of whether a familiar property, probably from your childhood (especially if you were born between 1975 and 1989) will be remade; it’s a matter of how much money it can make. Take a look at this list of movie remakes and reboots currently in the works. Is anyone excited for Ace Ventura without Jim Carrey, or The Crow in a Hot Topic world, or I Know What You Did a Few Summers Ago, No, Not That Summer, The Other One?
Pop culture has always recycled itself (and, to be fair, one of 2015’s best, most exciting films, George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, is a “revisiting”), but we’re at maximum overdrive. (And Vin Diesel could star in a Maximum Overdrive remake any day now.)
But there’s one beloved, multi-generational-defining property that’s never coming back, no matter how much the peeing-on-things industry would like it to. Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes ran from November 18, 1985 (that’s 30 years ago today!) to December 31, 1995. It hasn’t been heard from since. There’s been no talk of a movie, or someone taking over for Watterson, or a Calvinball video game, or music video with Meghan Trainor. It’s pure.
In the 20 years since the final Calvin and Hobbes strip, Watterson has, time and time again, refused to license his creation in any form. Reporters have been unable to find him. (These include one who said he’d wait in a hotel, Huell-style, until Watterson visited him; Watterson’s agent called the next day to say he would not be coming.) He didn’t appear in the 2013 documentary Dear Mr. Watterson. That’s not to say he’s been a complete recluse. Watterson designed a poster for the Angoulême International Comics Festival, collaborated with Pearls Before Swine‘s Stephan Pastis, and drew a brand-new comic for the documentary Stripped. He’s also given two interviews, one to Mental Floss.
Watterson has firmly stated he has “zero interest in animating Calvin and Hobbes,” and when asked about the “tendency to rehash and regurgitate properties with sequels and remakes,” he didn’t mince words.
Well, coming at a new work requires a certain amount of patience and energy, and there’s always the risk of disappointment. You can’t really blame people for preferring more of what they already know and like. The trade-off, of course, is that predictability is boring. Repetition is the death of magic. (via Mental Floss)
Outside of the frustrated sadness of Calvin’s parents, and the Transmogrifier, and Spaceman Spiff, and the secret similarities between Calvin and Susie, that’s Watterson’s genius. He created something brilliant, something that means so much to millions of fans, but “by the end of 10 years,” as he told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, “I’d said pretty much everything I had come there to say.” The magic can only exist for so long before people figure out the trick. And trying to recreate it would only spoil the magic.