Yesterday Sean O'Connell pointed out what's quickly becoming an unavoidable trend: prequels, which allow franchises to hit the reset button and get rid of whatever elements they didn't like, are becoming the new sequels. It's been evident for a while now, but especially in the recent weeks, which saw a prequel for The Thing last weekend and, coming up this Friday, Paranormal Activity 3, which actually takes place before the action of the first two movies.
It's easy to roll your eyes at prequels and wonder when the studios will bother to come up with an original idea. But really, prequels can work just fine if done right-- just look at this summer's Rise of the Planet of the Apes for a perfect example. It's not that prequels are always bad, but that they're sometimes made for the wrong movies, and for the wrong reasons. So what if they were made for the right movies? We came up with five movies we'd like to see get the prequel treatment, along with suggestions of what the prequels could be about. From what happened before the Icarus II took flight in Sunshine to the true origin story of John Coffey, check out our prequel suggestions below, and give us your own in the comments.
Die Hard (Suggested Title: Die Hard: Year One)
I’m as thrilled as the next guy (or girl) that 20th Century Fox continues to show commitment to the Die Hard franchise. John McTiernan’s original remains my all-time favorite film -- yes, I said “all-time,” and meant it -- and any film structured around the wise-cracking, hard-headed fly in the ointment named John McClane is going to get my time and attention. But here’s where the studio and I part ways. While they continue to trot out a willing, older Bruce Willis for bigger, broader Die Hard sequels, I think it’s time to go young. And the material for a prequel’s right there for the taking, waiting for the right screenwriter to adapt it into a workable script. Howard Chaykin’s Die Hard: Year One graphic novel rewinds to McClane’s early days in the New York Police Department, long before he went out to the coast to get together and have a few laughs. The book nails McClane’s cutting sarcasm. And while the story – set during the city’s 1976 Bicentennial celebration -- rushed to a hectic climax, a polish of the material easily could prep a shootable script that would reboot the iconic character for a fresh series of adventures that would help McClane live free and die hard for years to come.
Most heist thrillers meet our heroes on "one last job," when they've honed all their skills and are using them to get out of the game for good. Inception is no different, but not only is their last job their trickiest, it's also marred by all kinds of emotional scars of the past, represented in the flesh by Marion Cotillard's Mal. But even though Inception gets really exciting when things start to go wrong, I can't be the only one who wonders what it was like when things were going right, when Dom, Mal, Eames, Arthur and even poor fired Nash were working together, invading dreams and doing it all with laser-like precision. I imagine it being like the high-wire thrills of the zero-gravity sequence, with everyone working together to pull it off at just the last minute, and instead of everyone being emotionally wrecked at the end, we watch Dom and Mal fall in love, Dom and Arthur build their rapport, and so forth (well, Eames and Arthur still pick on each other, but that's the fun of it). It might not have the deep emotional resonance of Inception, but it'd be a hell of a lot of fun anyway.
Pulp Fiction (Suggested Title: The Vega Brothers)
Ever since Quentin Tarantino broke onto the scene in the early 1990s with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, fans have acknowledged that his movies seem to all exist in the same universe. Dubbing it the “Tarantino-verse,” folks have often pointed to the fact that Vic Vega (Michael Madsen in Dogs) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta in Pulp) share a family name. The director has gone on the record saying that the characters are actually brothers, but because both of them die in their respective movies, a sequel focusing on their shared adventures would be impossible. Tarantino's suggested solution? A prequel called The Vega Brothers (aka Double V Vega). While it’s somewhat impossible now, as both Travolta and Madsen have aged about 20 years since their characters’ debuts, Tarantino aficionados have always wondered what the paired adventures of the siblings would have been like as their personalities were so completely different. Vic, better known as Mr. Blonde, was a stone-cold psychopath that would hesitate to murder women and torture cops. Vincent, on the other hand, was a killer as well, but was much more laid back and would prefer to get high over going out to whack somebody. It would be great to see these two polar opposites go on a job together and eventually discover that they work better apart.
The Green Mile
The only way I’d want to see a Green Mile prequel is if Stephen King wrote it and Frank Darabont directed. That needs to be said before I take this idea any further. One of the most interesting things about The Green Mile is that it really does feel like we’re being told the end of a story. Who exactly is John Coffey? From the point of view of Paul Edgecomb, he’s a man who makes up what he lacks mentally with an extraordinary gift to heal people (and animals), and he’s being executed for a crime he didn’t commit. Who he was before that is barely touched on. We know he’s been alone a lot, that he’s tired and that he feels a lot of the world’s pain, but where he’s been, and what other lives’ he’s touched is unknown, and full of potential. As King has proven to be a writer with a strong appreciation for character depth, I feel certain he could come up with more story for John Coffey in his early years, if he hasn’t already, and casted right, it could make for a fantastic movie or TV series.
Sunshine (Suggested Title: Icarus)
This isn't the first time a prequel to Alex Garland and Danny Boyle's Sunshine has crossed my mind. For the film to be any good the two would again have to write and direct, in addition to bringing back Mark Strong as Captain Pinbacker. Sunshine has a similarity to both The Thing and Alien - two films that now have prequels - in that a previous mission is integral to the story. The Thing had the ill-fated Norwegians while Alien's Nostromo received the 'Space Jockey' distress call. In Sunshine the crew of Icarus II is sent to re-ignite the dying sun and save the world, but they were obviously not the first sent to do the job. En route, II strays off course to the seemingly deserted I in order to acquire a second payload to double their chances of re-ignition. Too bad a second payload isn't all they acquire, they also unknowingly pickup the deranged Captain Pinbacker. Who wouldn't want to watch Mark Strong as Pinbaker initially leading a team to save the world but slowly going mad and killing them all on the journey? With Strong, Garland and Boyle, Icarus I would be an exciting proposition.
Which of these movies do you want to see get a prequel?