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Gritty Reboot refers to a subgenre of movie trailer remix and alternate universe fanart that involves recutting an existing movie trailer or creating a completely new live-action piece featuring characters from a movie, comic series or video game franchise to depict them as hard-hitting, grimdark or film noir.
The phrase “gritty reboot” was used on Cracked as early as July 2009 to describe a comic by Mike Jacobsen depicting a dark version of The Wizard of Oz in which the Tin Man and the Scarecrow are shown removing Dorothy’s brain and heart.
“Gritty reboot” was used again by Cracked in October 2009 in a piece detailing five superheros that were ruined by adaptations, citing Spider-Man’s future as told through the 2006 limited series Reign as a “gritty faux pas.” One of the earliest video remixes was uploaded to YouTube by silverlightsaber on March 17th, 2010, utilizing footage from six movies to make a darker version of The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (shown below). As of March 2013, the video has more than 2.1 million views.
Throughout 2010, fan requests of gritty reboots appeared on the Escapist discussion forums, while parody images and videos in the style of Alternate Universe and Ruined Childhood appeared on College Humor, Dorkly and Cracked. In July, the term was also first defined on Urban Dictionary and in September, YouTuber megasteakman uploaded a Pokemon reboot video (shown below, left) depicting a war between Pokemon trainers, leading Ash down a grimdark path. As of March 2013, this video has accrued more than 10.8 million views. Throughout 2011 and 2012, fan-made gritty reboot videos and images were featured on Cracked, The FW, Funny or Die and Crunchyroll. In March 2013, a YouTube channel dedicated solely to making gritty reboot videos launched with a darker version of the video Harvest Moon (shown below, right).
As of March 2013, there are more than 13,000 search results for “gritty reboot” on YouTube.