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Can Superhero Movies Bring Back the “Too” Sequel?

Warner Bros./Marvel Studios

Looking back on the 2012 summer movie season so far, it’s the superhero titles that are most notable, both in terms of box office and critical attention. And the big three, ‘The Avengers,’ ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ are all quite interesting in terms of their context within their respective franchises.

One is a new kind of sequel that intersects and interconnects four other series, and which will spawn a similarly extended sequel of its own; another is a mostly redundant reboot; and the last is the third installment in a contained trilogy that potentially could hatch a spin-off or prequel or some other kind of follow up that isn’t a direct continuation of the primary hero.

Following those films, we had a crazy idea for both the title and direction for Marvel mega movie’s sequel: ‘The Avengers Too.’

Actually, this idea is not necessarily aimed at just ‘The Avengers’ but at any superhero movie franchise to which a “‘Too’ sequel” could be applied. ‘Batman,’ ‘Thor,’ ‘Green Lantern,’ ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Superman’ could all use a “‘Too’ sequel.”

What is a “‘Too’ sequel”? It’s a sequel that has the word “too” in the title, obviously, instead of the number two. The reason for the differentiation is supposed to be because the new movie has a new character played by a new actor who is put in the same situation as the protagonist of the original. This might be done because the studio wants a sequel but the original star declined to return.

For example, ‘Teen Wolf Too’ features Jason Bateman instead of Michael J. Fox as a totally different teen werewolf (Fox’s character’s cousin, to be exact), and he’s good at boxing instead of basketball.

Not only can the superhero movie genre save the concept as far as quality goes, it can also save it as far as numbers go — in fact, probably more so the latter. Movies in the past that could have been “‘Too’ sequels” but likely still would have been awful include ‘Steel’ (‘Superman Too’) and ‘Son of the Mask’ (‘The Mask Too’).

Here’s why the “‘Too’ sequel” works so well for superhero movies: characters are replaced all the time in comic books. Although the 1997 movie of ‘Steel’ didn’t acknowledge any connection to Superman, in the comics the character had been one of four substitutes for the Man of Steel when he “died.” And there are many other cases like this with heroes either dying, being mistakenly thought dead, retiring, being otherwise out of commission or off planet, etc.

There had long been the rumor that Batman/Bruce Wayne would either be killed or incapacitated at some point in ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ leading to a Nightwing or Azrael figure taking on the Batman role a la the comics’ “Knightfall” storyline.

For other properties, the concept could work in the place of reboots. ‘Spawn,’ ‘Green Lantern’ and ‘Jonah Hex’ have all seen substitutions in the comics. Given the recent revelation, I’d love to see ‘Green Lantern’ “rebooted” in the same continuity as a ‘Green Lantern Too’ with Alan Scott as the alter ego instead of Hal Jordan. But would the audiences be ready for a gay superhero movie?

We’d also liked to have seen ‘Spider-Man Too’ with the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man instead of a total remake, as the new film ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ basically is.

Many of the characters in the ‘Avengers’ movie franchise also have had subs in the comics, including Captain America, Iron Man and Thor. Some of these heroes’ film titles are going to lose steam after a while (‘Iron Man’ soonest), but eventually each series could be refreshed rather than rebooted with “‘Too’ sequels” starring the characters John Walker, James Rhodes and Eric Masterson in the respective alter-ego roles.

And of course The Avengers as a team has seen numerous variations of members. Will the planned sequel to this summer’s big hit be as exciting with the same heroes arguing and then banding together? Even with a few new characters (Ant-Man? Vision? Black Panther? Rocket Raccoon?) added to the roster? Actually that might get too busy.

Perhaps Marvel can wait on ‘Avengers 2’ until they could give us more individual movies for another whole handful of characters (‘Ant-Man,’ ‘Black Panther, ‘Hercules,’ ‘Namor,’ ‘Dr. Strange’), and then have those films serve as lead-ins to ‘The Avengers Too,’ the heroes for which would be all or mostly all different from those in the first ‘Avengers’ movie.

It’s just a suggestion. The stigma of the “‘Too’ sequel” might seem negative at first, but the genre has overcome a bunch of bumps. And it’s very fitting. Of course, title-wise, it might still be more appropriate for comic book movies to have numeric titles going well into the hundreds, or to be entirely restarted as they have been so far.

Maybe the best chance we have for the word “too” being in a comic book movie title is if Hollywood ever goes for an adaptation for ‘Too Much Coffee Man.’

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