Netflix’s Wednesday is making rounds on the internet, and people especially love Jenna Ortega’s portrayal of the iconic titular character. When the creators first announced the comedy series, fans of the original Addams Family were skeptical of the spin-off, and many questioned if Ortega would be able to properly fill the shoes of Christina Ricci, who previously portrayed Wednesday Addams. But they seem to have warmed up to the younger actress, with many lauding her performance of the character.
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The actor also received rave reviews for Scream (2022), in which she had to recreate the entire phone call scene from the original that horror fans remember fondly even today.
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Many iconic and beloved fictional characters have been taken on by various actors – to mixed reviews. Angelina Jolie set the precedent for badass female characters through her portrayal of Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider film series. When it was time for Alicia Vikander to take on the mantle in 2014, it was met with skepticism and doubts from many fans. It is, of course, understandable for fans to be protective of iconic characters they have grown up watching.
Recent remakes and sequels starring younger actors resonate differently with a newer audience that is unfamiliar with the original content. At the same time, fans of the original can’t help but compare the remake to the film they’ve already loved for a long time. No matter how good the remake is, it is not the version they remember and attach emotions to. Some actors embody the character to an extent where they become synonymous with the role. It is then impossible to imagine anyone else playing that character.
There are instances, though, of actors making their own mark on an already iconic character. Take Spider-Man, for example. Toby Macguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland have all made the marvel superhero their own. All three versions graced our screens in three different decades, and despite all the comparisons, there is no denying that all three actors embraced and brought the character to life in their own way. Winona Ryder and Saoirse Ronan’s portrayals of Jo March, although decades apart, are fantastic in their own right. So are Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp’s versions of Willy Wonka.
Moviegoers are expressing their disdain over the recent influx of remakes, and while the argument is valid, we should also consider that with the changing of times, creators are justified in their desire to make newer versions of old stories that suit the current generation. Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka will always remain unparalleled, but let’s be honest, today’s children who grow up with 3D cinema and hyper-realistic VFX may not necessarily connect with a film from 1971 – no matter how good it is. If done right, remakes and spin-offs become testaments to a character or film franchise’s everlasting impact on audiences.
Now as fans await Timothee Chalamet’s take on the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory character, many younger audiences will watch the franchise for the first time. The news has already received flack, but how Chalamet will choose to portray the character leaves much for us to anticipate and look forward to.