Reboot, remake, retcon… What's the difference?

Those who follow the world of cinema, series and games are already used to hearing terms like remake, reboot or retcon when we talk about new projects. That return of a classic film or even the modernization of an already quite popular series are things that are increasingly common — after all, they are productions that arrive already with a lot of appeal and almost always represent a success.

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However, who is not so used to this dialect of pop culture, he can get lost in the face of terms that, in our language, do not say much. To be quite honest, even those in the middle tend to get confused in all this verbiage, since the differences between these concepts are not always clear.

So, to help you understand what it differs a remake from a reboot and as retcon is part of it all,


brings some examples that will help you not to get lose when you come across these terms again and point out exactly when something like that pops up in front of you in a movie theater or on your favorite streaming.

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What is a remake?

Let’s start with the simplest. A remake is literally something remade, as the translation itself makes very clear. In the vast majority of cases, it’s about taking content that has been done before and redoing it, whether or not you can add minor changes — whether to modernize the technique, bring it to a more familiar context or even update concepts within the plot itself.

The story of King Kong was retold in 2013 in a Peter Jackson-directed remake of The Lord of the Rings (Image: Disclosure/Universal Pictures)

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The film King Kong

, from 2005, is an example of a remake that seeks to remain faithful to the original script, so much so that the entire script maintains the same atmosphere of the beginning of the 20th century, as it was in the original feature of 94. In this case, director Peter Jackson’s goal was to modernize the classic by retelling that story with the technology of the time to make everything more believable.


Disney live action, like Aladdin


King Lion

, not only do this technique but they change some things when they recount their stories. And as much as many fans turn up their noses when this happens, there are spots that age badly and need to be fixed in these new versions. After all, does it make sense to think of the princess who needs to be saved in the 21st century? And the remake works very well when making these small adjustments.

Another very common remake type in cinema is the localization. It’s those foreign films that catch Hollywood’s attention to the point that someone decides to produce a Hollywood version of that story. The Japanese horror classic

The Calling

got a remake in the United States, as did the South Korean action thriller Oldboy

also ended up being remade for American cinemas.

Disney’s live actions are nothing more than remakes of its classic animations (Image: Disclosure/Disney)

The big truth is that remakes have become a pretty safe bet for studios and producers and, therefore, they became more and more common. That’s because they already come with a well-established fan base that will be, at the very least, curious to see the new version. Just think that everyone who grew up watching Disney animations feels compelled to at least give the live actions

a chance , which translates into good box office numbers.

Of course this strategy does not always work . The remake of the classic

Avenger of the Future took advantage of various concepts from the film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1964, but the new version didn’t please the old fans or even the new public and suffered a huge failure. On the other hand, there are remakes like



Eleven Men and a Secret, which manage to be more iconic than the original movies.

What is a reboot?

Generally speaking, a reboot is not that different from a remake. It’s about restarting a universe to retell its story from another perspective, usually changing its cast. So he ignores everything that has been done so far to start from scratch. Just remember all the times they changed


and changed the world around them.

In 20 years, we’ve had three versions of Spider-Man — one for each time the hero has been rebooted (Playback/Sony Pictures)
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    In this case, it is much more It’s common to hear about reboot when it comes to series and franchises. It is not by chance that superhero movies are the ones that receive this treatment the most. In addition to the three restarts that

    Spider-Man has already received, we have also seen this happen more than once with


    . When director Christopher Nolan established his trilogy, Warner decided it wanted a shared universe and abandoned everything that existed until then to bet on Ben Affleck’s version. But this bet didn’t work out so well and they left for a new reboot with the upcoming

    The Batman

    , which will be starring Robert Pattinson .

    In video games, the clearest example of this is with

    Tomb Raider

    , by 1990. The game just took the concept of the series and modernized everything around it, even changing the posture and personality of protagonist Lara Croft. It was almost as if someone had pressed the reset button and reset the entire timeline to start a new universe from there — which ended up serving as inspiration for cinema as well.

    What is retcon?

    Of the three terms, retcon is the most unusual and the least known to folks. That’s because it ends up being much more common in long-running series, especially in comics. Still, it’s not uncommon to see this type of feature being used in movies and series.

    The name comes from retroactive continuity (retroactive continuity, in English) and deals with stories that change facts that have already been established in the past . A very classic example of this in comics is the freezing of Captain America during World War II.

  • Marvel brought a new Mandarin and found an excuse to justify the existence of the Iron Man 3 character (Image: Disclosure/Marvel Studios)

    Contrary to what we saw in Marvel movies, the character continued to be active even after the conflict ended, when he started to face communist enemies. Only, in 1990, the publisher wanted to integrate it with the Avengers and decided to say that none of what readers had seen in the past 17 years was true, as the hero was frozen for all that time. So they invented that the character who played these two decades was an imposter — something that had never been scored before.

    That’s the essence of retcon: rewriting the past by adding something new that will impact stories retroactively. In Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU), this has happened a few times, either when the studio regretted showing the Infinity Gauntlet in Odin’s safe and invented the artifact was fake or when it bowed to criticism of the fans after

    Iron Man 3 and made a true Mandarin exist beyond the actor who deceived the world. There is a whole explanation in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to justify this change.

    Therefore, retcon is often used precisely as a way to adjust story points so that a new idea works. Thus, a character who died in the past can reappear alive if it serves the script — then just invent an excuse to justify how he deceived everyone.

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