This week, pop culture’s most famous vampire, Dracula, returns to cinema screens with a new prequel/reboot that tries to retcon the evil bloodsucker as a misunderstood superhero. To put it lightly, the film looks a little half-baked. However, if nothing else, it got us thinking about moviedom’s other misguided attempts to tell (or retell) the origin stories for iconic characters. In today’s Roundtable, we call out some of the worst.
Before we begin, I should mention that I told our contributors that the ‘Star Wars’ prequels were a little too obvious a target, and asked them to focus their ire elsewhere. We’ll note those as being a given for this topic.
I’m sure it’s not the worst origin story, but ‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘ is the one that has bothered me the most in recent memory. Fans of both the comic books and the Sam Raimi movie trilogy love the idea that Peter Parker becomes Spider-Man due to a random incident where he gets bitten by a radioactive spider. This is embraced because it means that Spider-Man could be anyone, and it connects the audience to the Peter Parker character.
However, the new Marc Webb reboot movies (particularly ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2‘) ruin this concept by making Peter’s father responsible for the experiments that led to Peter’s super powers. This makes Peter’s origin story more about his heroic destiny than a random occurrence. In fact, the latest film even had a cut scene that would have shown that Peter’s father is still very much alive; thankfully, it was excised from the final version. It may seem like nitpicking to some, but changing Spidey’s origin story for no good reason has totally ruined my enjoyment of the new films.
I will second ‘The Amazing Spider-Man‘. I always wanted to punch Tobey Maguire in the face, but I’ll admit that his Spider-Man origin story was so much better than the version in the 2012 remake/reboot. As a former comic book fanatic, I must have read the tale of Peter Parker, the radioactive spider and Uncle Ben at least 200 times growing up. Once the first film series got to ‘Spider-Man 2’, it was nice to have that out of the way and get to work with some good villains and Spidey action.
I won’t go into the ways Sam Raimi immediately killed the series afterwards, but I will say that I was very excited to see what Andrew Garfield would do with the character. Then I saw the first previews, and realized the film would be like ‘Spider-Man’ meets ‘Batman Begins’, with a sort of gritty James Bond reboot thing tossed in to cover all the bases. And, as for Andrew Garfield, rather than staying true to the meek Peter Parker of the comics, he instead acts like a cocky, bratty, too-cool-for-school high school asshole. Oh, and everyone and their grandmother works at Oscorp and is directly related to everyone in the Parker family.
I wish Marvel would just pay Sony $1 billion to get the character back and start over for a third time. But please, please, Marvel, skip the origin story this time.
[Ed.: After Mike submitted his entry this week, some interesting rumors started to circulate. –JZ]
I’m going with Tim Burton’s ‘Planet of the Apes‘ remake. Pretty much every aspect of the film – the writing, casting, plotting, characters, etc. – not only didn’t fit the original five film series, they just plain didn’t work. Mark Wahlberg and Estella Warren play the brightest humans (red flag right there), and the class symbolism theme gets boiled down to Helena Bonham Carter (a chimp, I guess) fancying a human. Also, the movie has a twist ending that even M. Night Shyamalan would scoff at. It’s amazing the property survived at all.
I throw up in my mouth a little whenever I think of that horrible ‘Batman & Robin‘ movie. There’s so much wrong in that entire picture that it’s scary, but the worst has to be the tacked-on origin story for Bane. Whoever came up with that idea should have been fired on the spot after being stabbed numerous times with Batman’s suit nipples.
‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine‘ is a hideous joke-of-a-movie. From the opening bone-claws scene to the laughably bad teleporting Deadpool/Three Mile Island climax, it’s unbearable. The movie strips all fun from the franchise and replaces it with cheesy action sequences and needless character cameos. I’m one of the conspiracy theorists who believe that Fox intentionally released a workprint of the movie online ahead of its theatrical release just to boost curiosity about the film. I love the ‘X-Men’ movie series (excluding ‘The Last Stand’), but refuse to ever re-watch or add this turd to my Blu-ray collection.
M. Enois Duarte
I think one of the worst origin stories is, not surprisingly, in one of the worst comic book adaptations ever. Directed by Jean-Christophe Comar, the French visual effects artist who prefers to go by the name Pitof, ‘Catwoman‘ is a failed attempt to re-imagine the comic book villainess of the Batman universe as a superhero in her own right. Hoping that fans would forgive this 180-degree about-face, the filmmakers changed Selina Kyle to Patience Phillips and heavily altered her signature costume into a slutty, pole-dancer outfit. Perhaps the movie would have turned out OK if the plot weren’t so idiotic and Sharon Stone didn’t play one of the worst superhero villains ever imagined. Or, perhaps, there’s nothing that could have save this mess from itself.
Hey, remember that weird elephant-shaped fossilized corpse in the spaceship at the beginning of ‘Alien’? Wasn’t it cool how mysteriously unexplained that was, and how fans have used their imaginations for decades to speculate about what it could be and what happened to it? Yeah, well, when Ridley Scott decided to finally return to the ‘Alien’ franchise with a new part-prequel/part-spinoff, the so-called Space Jockey was tops on his list of mysteries to answer, and he utterly fucking blew it with the howlingly awful ‘Prometheus‘, one of the most astoundingly idiotic movies I’ve ever suffered through.
The failures of this movie are too myriad to catalog. The characters are all insufferable morons, and not a single one of them ever makes a sound, rational decision about anything at any point. The stupidity of the plotting just keeps coming in wave after wave after wave until it beats you down and wears you out. It’s exhausting to watch. And when the Space Jockey “Engineer” is finally revealed, and he turns out to be a muscle-bound albino wrestler wearing an elephant-shaped space suit who wakes up and immediately body-slams an elderly man for no reason at all… Holy hell, this thing is a terrible disgrace that shits all over the legacy of the film series that preceded it and gallingly insults the intelligence of the audience watching it.
It astounds me that this movie actually has defenders. I am not and can never be one. I am not Pro-Metheus. I am decidedly Anti-Metheus.
What’s your vote for the worst cinematic origin story? Tell us in the Comments.