Batman Day is coming up this Saturday September 16th, and on this special occasion, fans around the world celebrate the Dark Knight’s enduring legacy. While Batman is undoubtedly one of the most iconic superheroes in cinematic history, it’s worth noting that his origin story, as well as those of many other characters, has been told and retold countless times. This phenomenon of origin movies, while often enjoyable and insightful, isn’t necessarily a requirement for a successful franchise. Let’s delve into why origin movies can be fun and great, using examples like Batman Begins, and Iron Man, even though they aren’t always necessary.
Origin movies serve as a foundational pillar in the realm of film-making, offering viewers a glimpse into the formative experiences that shape a character’s destiny. A well-executed origin story can provide depth and complexity to a character, making them relatable and endearing. Take Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” as an example. This film masterfully explores the traumatic events that drove Bruce Wayne to become Batman, and it’s undeniably a fantastic film.
If we look at Matt Reeves, “The Batman,” we see a story that focuses on Batman being a new, but somewhat established hero. His origin is explored, but not nearly to the same extent as it is in Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan could have started his trilogy with maybe a few changes to The Dark Knight, and it could still have been a hit because it was a great movie. I personally am glad that he started with Batman Begins to show the journey of Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. It also helped to establish Nolan’s re-imagining of the character in a more grounded and realistic manner.
Iron Man stands as a shining example of a great origin movie. Showcasing his origin was a brilliant idea because there had never been an Iron Man movie before, and his origin is intriguing. The way that John Favreau, and the other film-makers made it was extremely captivating and allowed fans to witness Tony Stark’s transformation into the armored hero. However, its success doesn’t solely hinge on being an origin story. The film excelled because it effectively established the character, and set him on a journey into unknown and challenging territory. It set a good standard for character-driven superhero films, because while Tony continued to become a better person throughout the course of the MCU, he always maintained some semblance of his original personality.
Non Origin Movies
Die Hard is a classic action movie that has captivated audiences for decades. It introduced us to John McClane, an ordinary cop caught in an extraordinary situation. However, we didn’t need an entire movie dedicated to McClane’s origin to enjoy the heart-pounding action and witty one-liners. We never saw John Mclane as a kid, or going through the police academy, but the movie establishes him as a great cop who has a lot of experience. The circumstances that John Mclane encounters in Die Hard may be the worst that he’s ever faced, but that doesn’t mean his journey to becoming the cop that he is, isn’t a compelling story. It’s just not the story that the filmmakers wanted to show. The film succeeds because it throws us into the action, focusing on the present rather than the past.
The first X-men movie, released in 2000, served as a compelling example of a successful superhero film that didn’t rely on being an origin story. Rather than focusing on the individual beginnings of the mutants, it thrust audiences into a world where mutants were already a known entity (although knowledge of their existence still seemed to be a fairly new concept). This approach allowed the film to explore themes of discrimination, identity, and acceptance while building on an established team of characters. Having Wolverine, and Rogue being introduced to the X-men for the first time was a good move as well. This direction allowed “X-men” demonstrate that a superhero film could flourish by diving right into the action, and complexities of its universe without dwelling on origin tales.
The Future of Superhero Movies
Origin movies can certainly be fun and provide valuable insights into beloved characters, but they aren’t a mandatory formula for success. Sometimes, the mystery surrounding a character’s past can be equally compelling. Furthermore, revisiting origin stories can become redundant, especially when multiple adaptations of the same character exist.
The reason, I’ve been thinking about the concept of origin stories vs non origin stories a lot is because of I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of Superhero movies. Superman: Legacy comes out in a couple of years, and even though it’s going to be a different Superman then we’ve seen before, it’s not going to be an origin story. I’m sure aspects of Superman’s past will be explored as those sorts of aspects are often addressed in a good movie, but this movie is going to focus on Superman as an established superhero (at least that’s what I think based off of what we have heard about it so far).
On the other side of the superhero coin, over in the MCU, there are still many stories to tell. If you’ve been reading this blog for a little while, you know that I hope we get a reboot after/with Avengers: Secret Wars. Whether or not we do, there are plans to introduce the X-men into the MCU. Like Superman, the X-men don’t need to have an origin story told. They just need a new and engaging story.
All Types of Stories
while origin movies like “Batman Begins” can be exceptionally well-crafted and enjoyable, they aren’t an absolute necessity for successful franchises. The enduring appeal of characters like Batman, Iron Man, John McClane, and the X-men lies in their timeless stories and the many facets of their personalities that can be explored in various ways. And just because a movie is not an origin story, it doesn’t mean that it can’t have flashbacks and explore a character’s origins as it pertains to the story at hand. In the MCU, and the DCU, there will still be new characters introduced, and they may be introduced through origin movies. Those can work as long as there is something unique and compelling about the character’s journey. For bigger characters like Superman, Batman, and any of the Avengers origin stories should probably be avoided for a while.
So, as we celebrate Batman Day, let’s appreciate the wealth of stories that can be told about our favorite heroes and villains, whether they come from their origins or explore new horizons.