Whenever a movie introduces us to a cool and compelling character, we inevitably want to know more about them, where they came from, what they've done and how they came to be who they are. Oftentimes these are characters that are already fully formed, and we aren't meeting them at the start of their journeys but at the middle or the end. These characters may have an air of mystery around them that we'd like illuminated, intriguing histories that we'd like to see play out, and sometimes we simply want to spend more time with them. This is where an origin movie can come in.
There is something to be said for maintaining the mystery and not providing answers to questions that weren't being asked, but other times it is really cool to see how the mythology of a character came to be. Solo: A Star Wars Story falls somewhere in between, giving us answers to questions many of us weren't asking, but providing a fun genesis for the iconic nerf herder. Telling an origin story is always perilous, when they don't work they can easily be dismissed, but when they do work they expand the lore and let us have more fun with characters we love.
With that in mind, cinematic history is full of fun, memorable characters that also deserve a cool origin film. Like Solo, some of these would require recasting, but with each character there is a fun story that can be told. Here are just a few of them.
The title may have been Mad Max: Fury Road, but George Miller's 2015 modern action classic was really Imperator Furiosa's movie. Portrayed by Oscar winner Charlize Theron, Furiosa was fierce and capable and badass. She rose from one of Immortan Joe's wives to become his finest warrior. Seeing her journey from a helpless child wife to a cutthroat military commander to rebel would be awesome. An origin film could follow her from when she was taken from the Green Place all the way up to the beginning of Fury Road. The possibility of a Furiosa film has been talked about in the past, and Charlize Theron sounds up for it so hopefully we can get more of this incredible character in her own spinoff film.
John Goodman is such an underrated actor, and while Jeff Bridges' The Dude gets the lion's share of the references these days, Goodman's Walter Sobchak is a hilarious highlight of The Big Lebowski. The bowler, Vietnam veteran and Jewish convert is an incredibly entertaining character as he goes from calm discussion to unrestrained aggression on the flip of a dime. We're already getting a Jesus Quintana spinoff, so why not Walter? Full of bravado and paranoia, a Walter Sobchak film could follow the character during his Vietnam days and after, taking a darkly humorous angle with the war elements like Tropic Thunder or parts of Full Metal Jacket. But the real highlight is when he gets home and deals with everyday situations, which, as we've seen, he's ill suited for.
There has been talk over the years of a sequel to Ridley Scott's Best Picture winner Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe, but unless you go in a super crazy direction, Maximus is dead and that's the end of the story. But it's been a while since we've gotten a good swords and sandals-type film and I'd love to see a prequel that finds Maximus in his years as a general of the Roman legions. His time as a general, fighting battles for a Rome he's never seen, away from his family, would be really interesting. Primarily, an origin film could focus on how Maximus rose to the rank of general and developed a relationship with Emperor Marcus Aurelius. That father-son relationship between the warrior and the philosopher would be really compelling.
Bill (Snake Charmer)
Let's take a minute to acknowledge that Bill from Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2 is awesome. He is a storyteller, a marksman, an expert swordsman, a Kung Fu master and the leader of a mostly female cadre of assassins called the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. That's one badass renaissance man. Who wouldn't want to see how he came to be? Instead of having him be a villain from the start, I like to think of a Bill origin story following a young man on a martial arts journey of self-discovery around the world. As he gains power and knowledge he is slowly corrupted like Walter White, finding that he is good at killing and he likes it. An origin film could show how this character came to be, including his tutelage under Pai Mei and his betrayal of Hattori Hanzo..
A Who Framed Roger Rabbit sequel has been talked about in the past and at the moment seems dead in the water. But if this current era of nostalgia and remakes has taught us anything, it's to never say never. Though instead of a sequel, we could get a prequel film that served as an origin story for the late Bob Hoskins character Eddie Valiant. The private detective is a hardened character when we meet him in the 1988 film, who doesn't want to work for toons because of his brother's death. Seeing him in his younger years, along with his brother, as a fun-loving champion of toons would be a fun way to re-enter that world of humans and toons and tell a new detective story with a very different Eddie Valiant.
Portrayed by Rip Torn and Hank Azaria in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Patches O'Houlihan is easily the most quotable and absurd character in the comedy. Perhaps it's just a desire to see another Dodgeball movie, but I would be all in for a solo origin film for the ADAA champion in his younger years, played by Hank Azaria. The retro video featuring Patches was a ridiculous blast and a solo movie could follow that tack, satirizing sports and suburban America of the 1950's and its 'fine, lead-based paint.' An origin film could follow the crude and hilarious jerk Patches O'Houlihan as he hams it up as a star of the dodgeball scene at its height and follows his decline into a guy who drinks his own urine.
While Disney is working on live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, I'd love to see a solo origin film for the villain Ursula. The Sea Witch is one of Disney's most memorable and scene-stealing villains, as she is funny, theatrical and sinister. In Disney's version, Ursula was once a part of the kingdom and lived in the palace but was banished by King Triton. This backstory provides an awesome opportunity for an cool origin story that finds Ursula attempting to manipulate things behind the scenes like Palpatine in the Star Wars prequels or Littlefinger in Game of Thrones. Seeing her rise to power and then subsequent banishment would be a unique spin on The Little Mermaid, just so long as she isn't made to be misunderstood and is just kept as an evil, but incredibly entertaining villain.
Winston 'The Wolf' Wolfe
Pulp Fiction is a film full of memorable characters, yet no one makes as big of an impact with as little screen time as Harvey Keitel's Winston Wolfe. When Jules is immediately reassured when Marcellus tells him he's sending The Wolf, you know this guy is going to be awesome and he does not disappoint. The Wolf is cool, calm and collected, and he gets things done with logic, efficiency and ingenuity. I imagine that The Wolf could have a really unexpected backstory, but I don't necessarily need to see how he became The Wolf in minute detail. Just seeing Winston Wolf fixing problems in L.A., and helping out stupid criminals, would be great. Maybe we could meet him in the 60's in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg
In a film full of colorful and cartoonish characters, Gary Oldman's Zorg still stands out. The founder and owner of weapons manufacturer Zorg Industries, Zorg is the kind of villain that tempts you to root for him. In addition to showing how he became who he is, including how he got that haircut, an origin film could show Zorg dealing with other scum and villainy, navigating the intergalactic arms trade in his desire for destruction. An origin movie could tell how this eloquent and sinister character winds up serving Mr. Shadow, who is really the Ultimate Evil, an ancient cosmic force bent on destroying life. But really an origin film is just another opportunity to spend time with this great character from The Fifth Element as he sleazily pitches absurd firearms and deals with subordinates.
When we meet the late, great Richard Attenborough's John Hammond in Jurassic Park, we see a man who has achieved the impossible and is readying to share his dream with the world. It would be amazing to see how he got to this place, how this man with childlike wonder, boundless enthusiasm and a belief in doing good, worked towards the scientific breakthrough that allowed dinosaurs to live again. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will introduce John Hammond's business partner, Benjamin Lockwood, played by James Cromwell, so perhaps we will get some more of Hammond's backstory there. Admittedly, a movie about a journey of scientific discovery isn't as sellable as a movie where dinosaurs eat people but it would still be fun to see.
Do you remember watching The Matrix for the first time, how you were just as excited and nervous to meet Morpheus as Neo was? Laurence Fishburne's character was captivating and deserving of his own origin story to show how he became the leader he was. We know a good deal of Morpheus' backstory thanks to the films, but getting to see it, I think, would only enhance the character. Morpheus was rescued from the Matrix and was told by the Oracle that he would find The One, an incredible burden. Yet, as we learned from the sequels, not everyone in Zion shared his belief in the prophecy. A Morpheus origin story could show his dogged pursuit of The One and how he held fast to his beliefs even when they were challenged.