Why Is "Different" Bad?

Today, we live in a world where there are constant sequels, prequels, spinoffs, reboots, and remakes. In all of these cases, companies aim to take a property we liked when we were younger and bring it back in a new light-or, in some cases, continue where the original story left off. The purpose of this is not only to appeal to older fans of the franchise, but also to draw in new fans.

Sadly, many reboots are subjected to criticism. People often say that these reboots do certain things worse than the original, or that they only make sense if you’ve seen the original, or they simply don’t need to exist because the original was so perfect. Disney’s live-action remakes are prime examples of this.

But a very widespread source of backlash is that a reboot is “different” from the original. This criticism can come in many forms, but the most common seems to be in the form of character designs. This happened with the live-action Transformers movies, and TMNT, and even some superhero movies where a character’s design doesn’t match the one from the comics. People will get really mad when, say, a character’s face isn’t shaped like it was in the original comic/TV show/book/whatever.

Is this really so bad? The whole point of a reboot is to present a classic story and setting in a different light, so of course some things are gonna be different!

Well, part of the issue is that many people grew up with these things as part of their childhoods. Their original look is ingrained into their mind as the definitive version. Seeing them look drastically different can be jarring. So in that respect, nostalgia is a big factor in the “it’s different, therefore it’s bad” argument.

Of course, there are cases where a reboot/remake is too similar to the original, and the sameness ends up being bad. The 2019 Lion King leaps readily to mind at this. This movie had undeniably impressive CGI in it, and I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments where I was entertained. But the movie was a beat-by-beat retread of the original’s plot. Not all of the dialogue was the same, but the way the scenes were structured just made them feel like carbon copies of the sequences from the original. On the whole, I’m not against a live-action Lion King. But if it’s gonna be such an exact copy of the original, then it feels rather pointless.

I think that’s why so many studios try to make their adaptations different from the original-to try and keep things fresh. But there are some cases where adaptations being different can be inherently bad. There have been a lot of movies based off of popular books that were met with backlash from fans of the book. Using Percy Jackson as an example, the movies were drastically different from the books. They didn’t follow very closely to the books’ plots, but that wasn’t why people trashed them. One of the things that made the Percy Jackson books such a success was the vast array of unique characters with interesting backstories and admirable development. That provided a goldmine of potential, but the movies didn’t tap into it. They ultimately ended up exemplifying the parallels the Percy Jackson characters had with those of Harry Potter…which probably stoked the fires of the “OMG PERCY JACKSON IS A HARRY POTTER RIPOFF” movement.

In short, a reboot making changes from the original can be bad if they end up removing what made the original so good in the first place. That is an argument I’ve seen many people make against the live-action Transformers movies: the G1 cartoons had a wide array of characters with varied, colorful personalities, and in comparison, the live-action movies did not. Of course, I’m only familiar with the six movies in the live-action series, so I can’t comment on that.

But, even with that said, it’s possible to make things really different while still being good. The Tom Holland Spider-Man movies are a good example of this. They were drastically different from the previous cinematic versions of Spider-Man, and yet they still had the spirit of the OG Spider-Man character. Stan Lee even said that Tom Holland’s portrayal was what he envisioned when he created the character (I’m serious: look it up).

Or, and this is gonna get me some hate mail, but I also see the Star Wars sequel trilogy as this. They did reuse plot elements from previous movies, but they also added new things to it. There were new takes on familiar archetypes from Star Wars, and there were entirely new archetypes. Admittedly, some of the characters and plotlines could’ve been explored more, but my point still stands. That’s what I feel any filmmaker should do when they revisit a franchise. They should have some familiar elements, but also some new elements. It’s not just the Star Wars sequel trilogy that did this-the Dark Knight trilogy did it, the Tim Burton Charlie And The Chocolate Factory did it, the Peter Jackson King Kong did it, the 2006 Charlotte’s Web did it, and I’m sure other examples could be cited.

I guess, in the end, a sequel or reboot should still try to be good on its own merits. But if it’s trying to capitalize on our childhood nostalgia, then it can’t hurt to have at least some of what made the originals so good in the first place.


yet another long winded discussion topic from @thewimpykid, I like these, they’re good things to talk about. so, to awnser the title “why is different bad”, nowadays “different” and “weird” are very much synonyms, which is probably because of the way society is now, with “weird” being bad for some reason. as for the reboots/continuations, I think that people should A) appreciate the effort that goes into them (seriously, you dont write three books/movies/ect. overnight), and know that they wont be the same as the original, which is really half the point. if I wanted to read a good book again, or watch a good movie again, I wouldnt demand a sequel or continuation, Id read/watch it again. I will now touch on the sequel trilogy of star wars quickly, so be prepared for possible controversial opinions: I dont hate it, TFA was good at first, and while TLJ wasnt very good as a movie, it helped fix and explain many small things within the universe (namely some in-space physics and how starfighters interact with capital ship shields, but there are others). and though TRS wasnt loved, it was different. alright, Im done with the massive post.


I have to say, I agree with most of your points on this. I’ve watched both the live action transformers movies and the G1 cartoon (granted, watched the movies first) and I think that changing the character designs is an integral part of the transformers universe. The fact that they can be different looking, yet still be recognizable is really cool in my opinion. Although I do have other problems with the movies, the G1 show also had some issues too (especially in later seasons, it got really weird, really fast). Also, on the star wars thing, I was definitely entertained by the movies, and there is no doubt in my mind that they were good movies. The problem with them, is that the story didn’t make sense with the context of the originals. So imo, they new trilogy are all good, but only as solo movies, not as a part of the greater star wars universe. Oh, except for the ending. I hated the ending of the rise of Skywalker

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Different is bad because it falls short of my highly specific criteria based off the original I grew up with.


Glad you like them. :slight_smile:

And because it’s human nature. Familiarity is welcome, but we do not react well to change.


Alright, I’ll comment.

I’m not so sure that most people really have “it was different” as the real reason for disliking many things, I think that is a go to reason when people can’t quite pin down why they didn’t like it.
Many times the real reason seems to be that “it could have been so much more”, I think Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy is a prime example of this: while not bad movies, they take significant detours from the book, and, rather than going in a different direction, the storyline stays similar enough to the book to continually remind you of the original story. This directly asks for comparison (above already asking), which in many cases does not turn out favorably for the reboot, sequel, prequel, etc.
Another relatively common reason is not having the same feel, when it seems that it should; with a completely different story in the same universe, the feel can be, and often should be, changed. In other cases though, it is rarely a good idea to change the feel. This typically leads to an audience sensing a disconnect between the two, and rarely is it very positive.
Thirdly, if the reboot, etc. causes plot holes, typically it is a bad thing. Sometimes a intentional plot hole is made, and those are usually fine, but unintentional ones are usually never addressed.

I do not believe that is all the things “different is bad” gets used for, but I think that these are some of the more common reasons.

There are also some unique issues/challenges for each media medium, and for an adaptation there are unique issues as compared to a reboot, and so on.
Also, people like to complain, so we will find something to complain about.

But I think there are some examples of different not being considered bad. My go to example for this is Fullmetal Alchemist; the original show of FMA, as well as the reboot, FMA: Brotherhood, are both very highly regarded anime, while definitely being different.


the whole problem for that was in the word trilogy.

The Hobbit was written to be like a fairy tale, a book for kids. Peter Jackson wanted to make it into an epic saga like LOTR. That was why they got so much hate.


I do agree, at least partly; I think it could be made into an epic, but I do think making it a trilogy was a mistake.

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Here’s what I think about this. Different is often perceived as bad because it requires us to “give up” what we already have. It’s an area of uncertainty that when faced with the decision between something you know you like, and something different. The second reason is probably because reboots tend to be worse on the whole. After all, it is unlikely that a bad movie would get a reboot. Great or beloved movies get reboots, and by consequence those movies are worse than the original.


Personally, I think often times remakes don’t try hard enough to be different. These days I think remakes tend to focus on capitalizing old nostalgia rather than really try to do something different with a preexisting world. This obviously isn’t always the case, but I think it’s clear that Hollywood is more interested in chasing the mythical money making formula than telling good stories.


Wewlad, cannot say I agree with that, even despite what Stan Lee says.

Different can be bad because the original has a specific tone or mood that cannot be re-captured by remaking a movie or character. For Spider-Man, for example, the biggest reason I liked him was because he was a young man fully independent and responsible for his own actions (Something I dislike about MCU Spider-Man: too much influence is taken from Iron Man. Spider-Man is his own character!)

He did not rely on other heroes, though he did look up to them. The idea was to make a teenaged character who was not a sidekick (Stan Lee’s own words on that), which the MCU wholeheartedly turned Spider-Man into, which angered me.

Which is why different can be bad. It can fail to capture a character or product that we were familiar with and was good without the need for change. Hence why so many reboots feel soulless: they’re only made to cash in on the original product we liked without thought. Now, granted, in some cases a reboot can be excellent. But I find many are not that way.

Now, the difference between ‘can’ and ‘is’ are the idea that something is inherent. I am not abject to change, in fact I encourage it sometimes. But the fact that different can be bad means it has potential to anger people rightly. However, that does not mean different is inherently bad.


The Hobbit movies did manage to recapture the spirit of LOTR, in my opinion: the problem was that they tried too hard to BE LOTR.

I think Stan Lee meant Tom Holland perfectly captured the personality of Spider-Man, though I can see how you’d view MCU Spidey as Iron Man’s sidekick. However, I always saw Iron Man as exactly what you said: a sort of mentor figure towards Spider-Man. The movies clearly establish that both superheroes were operating on their own for quite some time before they met in Civil War, so to me, it felt like more of a team-up.

And this isn’t a point you raised, but I still feel I should mention it. I liked Spider-Man: Homecoming a lot when it first came out, and I still think it’s a great movie even to this day. But I always felt like it had something missing from it. For quite some time, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But when I saw Nostalgia Critic’s Disneycember video about the movie, it PERFECTLY summed up my thoughts on the movie. Since it didn’t even mention Uncle Ben at all, it felt devoid of what made Spider-Man such an epic superhero in the first place. Not that trying to please Tony Stark is a bad concept, but it still doesn’t have what made Spider-Man strike a chord with so many people. Of course, like NC mentioned, Marvel had very valid reasons for making these decisions. This was the third cinematic adaptation of Spider-Man, and nobody wanted to see another origin story. Especially since they knew it inside and out. So Marvel masterfully crafted a Spider-Man story that was very different from the ones we’ve seen a million times, but one that still ultimately worked for the character. But, like I said, I wish they could’ve at least mentioned Uncle Ben at some point. Like, Tony could’ve said something along the lines of “Remember your Uncle Ben? How do you think he’d feel about your irresponsible behavior?” That would’ve been enough to satisfy me.

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yes that’s the problem.


How many of the transformers are actually still recognizable though? :stuck_out_tongue:

I thought it was more that WB wanted to, but I might be wrong on that so feel free to correct me.

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That’s what Uncle Ben is for.

Precisely why I dislike it. It was at Sony’s insistence that he be teamed with Iron Man. They never understood the character.

Ehhhhhhhhhh. I mean you’re right, it was different. But was it masterful? I’d argue on the contrary. The best things Homecoming and Far From Home did was their handling of Vulture and Mysterio, but even then I dislike how much Iron Man was incorporated into the backstories. Is it too much to ask for Spider-Man to stand up on his own two feet?


…until he’s, y’know, dead.

I remember before Homecoming came out, I was kind of disappointed that they weren’t using the main Spider-Man villains like Green Goblin or Dock Ock. Of course, I did warm up to the Vulture when I saw the movie, but I still hope those characters show up in the MCU somewhere down the line.

That’s exactly what’s happening. Far From Home was all about Spider-Man stepping out of Iron Man’s shadow, and that leaves the door open for the next movie to be about Spider-Man acting on his own. But then again, everywhere I look, people are claiming that the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield Spider-Men are going to be back, having came from their own alternate realities. And some people are going so far to say that Doctor Strange is gonna be Peter’s new mentor figure. Given the “alternate reality” setup, that does make sense, but I hope he gets the Iron Man treatment from Homecoming, in that he’s used sparingly in the movie. Because, like you said, the third movie should be Spidey’s chance to REALLY shine.

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Yes. That’s the point. His death makes Peter constantly question his moral quandaries because of his mistake. The death is a turning point, and a point where Peter can stop himself before he does something irresponsible and thinks, “No, not another Uncle Ben situation.” His death can still influence his decision making.

Except it’s not. He’s adopting everything Tony had: Happy Hogan, his technology, his control over some of legacy of Stark Industries, etc. He’s just adopted everything of Tony Stark and lost what has made him uniquely “Spider-Man.”

That should have been happening movie #1.

No, the first should have been that chance. And they utterly botched it. I didn’t say that is what I wanted in the third movie, I’m saying it should have been that way to begin with, and now they’ve ruined it. It is a shame, I am a very huge Spider-Man fan (having read most of the original comics from 1965-1994 and over 800 issues) and I just think none of the movies have ever gotten Peter right. Though I do think the Raimi films do a better job than others at least with the world building of Spider-Man.


is this supposed to be a positive of rise of rey skywalker


Which, honestly, makes a lot of sense for how Spider-Man was introduced to the MCU: Tony Stark needed to recruit as many heroes as possible to help him take on Cap’s ragtag band of rogues in Civil War, so he went looking and found Spider-Man. Since Tony Stark gave him the opportunity of fighting alongside the Avengers, it stands to reason that Peter would have great respect for the man like we saw in Homecoming.

When you said “Spider-Man standing on his own two feet,” I assumed you meant how much his movies relied on Iron Man; his mentor role in the first movie, and his influencing of the villains in both movies. So what I meant to say was, since FFH was all about Peter coming to terms with Tony’s death and accepting that he’s not going to be able to live up to his legacy. Thus, the third movie won’t need to have Peter angsting over whether Tony will approve of his actions.

(As a side note, a while back I heard a rumor that in the next movie, Kraven will be the villain, and that this version of him would be a Wakandan refugee. That’s not connected to Iron Man, but it is kinda, sorta connected to Black Panther, so…I guess you can make of that what you will.)

Like I just said: given the way Spider-Man was introduced into the MCU, this is their way of working towards Peter Parker operating on his own without influence from the other Avengers, like you seem to want.

All that is intentional to make him different from the comics and help him fit into the larger MCU. It’s a new take and I, personally, like it.