Weekend Roundtable: Worst Cinematic Origin Stories

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.

Shannon Nutt

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.

Mike Attebery

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]

Brian Hoss

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.

Tom Landy

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.

Luke Hickman

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.

Josh Zyber

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.


  1. Timcharger

    How about Transformers?

    Megatron was discovered in the North Pole in the 1700-1800s?
    No wait, they were here when the pyramids were built.
    No wait, they were already on the moon for ages.
    No wait, 65 million years ago when dinosaurs ruled…
    No wait, F-You Michael Bay!

  2. Strongly agree with X-men Origins : Wolverine, and Catwoman. Wolverine, who’s one of Marvel’s toughest badasses, was the biggest pansy fuck I’ve ever seen in that movie. All the screaming at the air was quite redundant. I hated his flowy hair and his fake looking claws. I wish they would embrace the look of the comic book wolverine and give him his silly haircut as is, quit dancing around it. The more Jackman flexes his muscles and gnashes his teeth, the more beefcake he looks. He should wear a little black bow tie in all his shirtless scenes.
    Catwoman was pretty horrible too, her costume was AWFUL! Those open toe shoes seemed very impractical for fighting crime. The mask was Fugly as well. I believe there’s a scene where she says something like “purrrr-fect”. No bueno.
    I consider the last Nightmare on Elm Street something of an origin story. Not a good one. It was hard for me to buy that high school kids couldn’t remember kids that they knew in kindergarten. Maybe it was supposed to be the traumatic experience that made them not remember, but I still call bullshit. I’m almost 38 and i remember plenty even before I started school. The whole micronap thing was really stupid as well.

  3. Some origins are best left to the imagination of the viewer. Rob Zombie’s Halloween is a good example. Making Michael Myers a watery white trash kid with a scumbag family didnt really make him very intriguing. What made Carpenter’s Halloween so scary was that Michael came from a seemingly good home and upbringing, but there was something evil in him that didn’t have to be explained or justified. I like not knowing what makes Michael tick. Zombie’s Michael suggested a product of his environment, which is used all the time in shows and movies. I also didnt see the need to make him a hulking beast like Jason Voorhees. Zombie’s Halloween felt like two different movies that didnt tie too well together.

  4. John W

    I certainly can’t disagree with the other opinions offered above, but my personal worst would be…

    James T. Kirk “Star Trek” (2009)

    “Dear Mom, I made First Officer, saved Earth (bummer about Vulcan), graduated early from Starfleet Academy, and skipped over several ranks to become Captain of the Federation flagship! It was the best day ever!”

  5. Chris B

    As much as I dig “The Shadow” on a guilty pleasure sort of level, the opening origin sequence is unintentionally hilarious. Alec Baldwin, with long hair and bare chested wearing hammer pants is assualted by a magical dagger somewhere in Mongolia. The whole movie is pretty bad but the first 10-15 are especially so. Every time I watch it I have to skip the opening to avoid the giggles.

    • That’s gotta be the best one mentioned! Actually worst one mentioned. That easily trumps all the other crappy origins mentioned in my book. What a steaming pile that was! I think my mind blocked it out. Samurai Hannibal, what the hell were they thinking?!

    • Chris B

      Wow,I totally forgot about that movie but absolutely agree with you. It’s fucking TERRIBLE! The pacing is completely off and the movie is just incredibly boring. I like Ridley Scott a lot as a director but that’s probably the worst movie he’s ever made
      (and I’m including Legend). It’s so fucking bad it makes Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves look like Batman Begins in comparison.

      • I like frankie’s comment. I loved BB, but I’d love to know his motivation or his reasoning. I’m sure we all have one movie we hate that seems to be universally loved. In fact, that would make a great roundtable too: “Movies you don’t dare to consider horrible in public, for fear of lynching.”

        • Another good one would be ” movies you really like, but are afraid to admit for fear of losing movie buff street cred. I bet critics have some of these.

          • William Henley

            I got answers for both right now! Thats easy for me! I think we have had this topic before, but its been a couple of years, might be worth revisiting with all the new people here.

        • frankie

          Haha just “trolling”. Batman Begins is the only Nolan Batman film I really enjoyed. The other two were overrated in my opinion. I also still enjoy the first Batman with Keaton too. I’ve never really been into movies based on comic book characters, so the current trend in Hollywood does nothing for me. Give me those two Batman and the first two Superman movies with Reeves and I’m content.

  6. Your Spidey comments are pretty much dead on but at least they were good enough in the “re-boots” to give we the fans superior action sequences. Interesting that the changing of plot/character origin elements bother the Spidey fans but not the X-Men fans. The X-Men franchise has been appalling to say the least always compulsively “behind-the -times” in their incredibly inferior action sequences. The 1st one being the worst. Jackman only gained Wolverine cred in the Origins movie. That’s when to me he finally nailed the Wolverines nuances. His original casting bothered me the most. Wolverine in the comics is 5’3. Hence the name Wolverine for he is small and ferocious. Jackman is of course not that height. The Lord of The Rings trilogy made sure to show height differences accurately especially when showing characters’ height in scenes where they stood next to each other or fought alongside one another. The charm of Wolverine in the comic was always the fact that he was the shortest in the room but the biggest bad ass in the room. So the X-Men for this, horrible action sequences, and other offenses to long to list is the worse offender in the origin that sucks category.

  7. Grant Miller

    I’ve have always been a fan of the The Punisher. It astounds me that after 3 movies no one can seem to get the origin correct. Though I can actually find some redeeming qualities in each of the films I can’t understand how anyone can continually screw up a rather simplistic origin. Sigh.

  8. William Henley

    With all the movies listed, the only one I can agree with is Catwoman. I LOVE Prometheus, like Planet of the Apes, Amazing Spiderman, Wolverine, Batman and Robin, Batman Begins, and although I don’t see anyone mentioning it, I loved Maleficent. Star Trek (2009) is really a reboot / alternate timeline, so I don’t consider it an Origins story.

      • Chris B

        I fucking Hate Lawrence of Arabia. I even went and watched it for the very first time on the big screen at one of my local theatres just this year and I was bored stiff. I don’t get how people can say it’s “the greatest adventure movie of all time” are you fucking kidding me?!

      • William Henley

        Movies I don’t like that are well liked:
        Pulp Fiction – Reason – Content
        LA Confidential – Bored stiff
        Sin City – I found it boring
        The Goonies – I didn’t grow up on this movie, and honestly do not see what the fuss is about.
        Labarynth – Truthfully, this is NOT a good movie, and I feel that if more people took off their nostalgia glasses, they would see it for the turd that it is
        The Princess Bride – I just don’t find it funny
        Office Space – I don’t find it funny either
        Napoleon Dynamite – I don’t think its funny, and in fact, find it really boring
        Dumbo – This is, in my opinion, one of Disney’s worst movies
        Peter Pan – It’s not bad, its just not my thing
        Pinnochio – Never really cared for this either
        Star Trek 2 – I HATE Wrath of Khan
        Star Trek First Contact
        Dances With Wolves – Boring

        I got to agree with Chris B on Lawrence of Arabia. I don’t hate it, but I feel the movie is greatly overrated. I can think of much better ways to kill four hours of my life.

        Movies I really liked, but am afraid to admit:
        The American Girl Movies. The only one I didn’t care for was Saige, but I loved Chrissa, McKenna, Kitt, Molly, Samantha and Felicity. I have not seen Isabelle yet
        Sophia Grace and Rosie Royal Adventure – It’s not a great movie, but it has the cutness factor going for it, and the story is not bad
        Pocahontas – I feel this is a very under-appreciated Disney movie.
        Frozen – What. can’t a grown, single male like Disney movies? Add Brave, Tangled, and pretty much every other Disney Princess movie to this mix
        Old Godzilla movies
        Santa Claus Conquors the Martians
        Star Trek 5 – I would rather watch Final Frontier than Wrath of Khan or First Contact

        • I don’t by any means hate these movies and I certainly appreciate what they stand for and their relevance in the cinematic universe, but I think are overrated.
          Star Wars
          The Godfather
          Superman: The Movie (snooze fest)
          Escape From New York
          Casablanca (can’t get through the whole thing)
          Independence Day

          Movies that will ban me from this site that I enjoy.
          Movie 43 ( not all of it but plenty of it cracks me up) ballsack neck brings tears to my eyes!! Especially when cold
          X-Men: The Last Stand ( not a masterpiece but not the turdfest most fanboys seem to make it out to be)
          Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes (same way I feel about X-Men 3)
          Emmerich’s Godzilla: the only problem I have with this movie is that it’s called Godzilla, otherwise it’s very entertaining and fun to watch.
          Nacho Libre: I’ve read mostly bad reviews from this movie, but it’s one of my favorites. I’m not a Jack Black apologist but this is his funniest. One of my favorite movies. It’s childish and innocent and cracks me up!

          • William Henley

            I liked all the X-Men movies, and I like TB’s POTA. I am not a fanboy of them, but I find them enjoyable.

          • Chris B

            Days of Future Pasts’ ending irked me a little bit because it basically invalidates everything that happened in The Wolverine. Whenever I see it now I can’t help but be like “none of this ever happenned, watching it is pointless”

  9. I think I am with Brian Hoss on this one. The Original Planet of the Apes, in the end… we find out the apes evolved and took over because mankind blew itself up, presumably nuclear. Now the new series expects us to believe something differently? I have to wonder if the next prequel will have mankind thinking the only option is nuclear and we’re supposed to believe this. Yeah, right. It takes more than a few years for evolution to do its thing so I don’t exactly buy it.

    And going with Tom Landy’s comments… Ever notice that the Batman movies were actually a bit behind in their name scheme? Batman Forever has Robin in it. Batman & Robin was actually Batman, Robin and Batgirl.

    Overrated Movies that I thought absolutely blew:
    Natural Born Killers
    Pulp Fiction

    And why are we getting three movies based on The Hobbit?

  10. Chapz Kilud

    I’m 100% in agreement with Josh Zyber. Even after watching the alternate beginning and ending, I still couldn’t understand Prometheus. Nothing made any sense.

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