Do superhero movies always have to start with origins?

Feature Mark Harrison 10 Jul 2014 - 06:50

We know how superhero stories start: normal person gets powers, gets reluctant, becomes heroic. But why does it have to be like that?

An alien baby is evacuated from a dying home planet and grows up to discover that he can use his immense power on Earth and the values instilled by his adoptive parents to protect the world. A young boy’s parents are gunned down in front of him and he dedicates his whole life to making sure if never happens to anyone in his city again. A teenager gains exhilarating powers and is then taught the responsibility that comes with that power by the tragic death of his uncle.

These are all great examples of iconic and interesting origin stories, which shape the respective superheroes to which they relate. But in a world of reboots and endless franchise mileage, do they necessarily have to be the starting point in the movies featuring those characters?

You can certainly see the conventional wisdom behind starting there. We get to start out seeing someone who is usually normal (if not “just like us”) to begin with, gaining fantastical powers and developing into a heroic figure and triumphing over the bigger, meaner forces in their normal world, whatever they may be. As an audience, it appeals to our aspirations, particularly with Marvel characters.

There are tonnes of examples of great superhero origin story movies. Richard Donner’s Superman led the way for all that followed, especially Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, which riffed on the same formula to finally bring the web-head to life. More recently, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins explored the character from a personal angle rather than allowing the villains to overshadow the hero and Jon Favreau’s Iron Man went from a production that started without a script, to the most tightly scripted and impeccably structured superhero introduction ever committed to film.

Iron Man

So what’s the problem with starting with a good, sturdy origin story? Well, if you read that last paragraph and felt impatient that something you already know was being explained to you all over again, then that may be your answer.

We suppose that the argument for rebooting a character by going back to the origin stories is that the fans will see them anyway and the filmmakers are more focused on introducing the character to new viewers and putting their own spin on the material. Sure, that’s a necessary step in some cases, but the origin story has also too often become a shortcut to using exposition to advance the action.

For example, let’s compare and contrast two versions of the same hero’s origin story- Raimi’s Spider-Man and Marc Webb’s reboot The Amazing Spider-Man. The first act of Raimi’s film plays pretty close to the comics, wherein Peter’s actions get Uncle Ben killed in a tragic succession of events that commences not with a radioactive spider bite, but with Peter deciding he needs a car to impress Mary Jane. The character led the action.

The Amazing Spider-Man has the added baggage of being a “once more with feeling” version of the same story, but the subtle differences in tone and delivery still fail to distract from the fact that the film takes twice as long as Raimi’s to get through the same series of events. This time, it’s Peter’s interest in the mystery behind his absent father that incites the story, but only dangles tauntingly in the background of the rest of the film after other events distract him. The action, this time more literally fight-y and SFX-y, led the character.

In fact, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 outright slammed the brakes for a good portion of its second act just to spray web over a certain hole in the backstory, retroactively making this version of Peter destined to be spider-powered. By over-complicating the origin story, they also extended it. Uncle Ben’s killer is still at large in this version too, but let’s not forget how Spider-Man 3 also fell afoul of revisiting a hitherto-“overlooked” aspect of the origin by awkwardly inserting Sandman into the previously airtight story.

Without that element of his story, Flint Marko would otherwise be the only villain in the live action Spidey movies to date who doesn’t have some personal or professional association with Peter Parker, however tenuous. It’s as if Raimi et al reached back to the surety of the origin story to try and beef him up into something he wasn’t.

But even superhero movies which don’t start with the hero’s origin story invariably wind up going through the same story motions with the villain. Often the hero and the villain come into existence or acquire power simultaneously to simply construct an idea of binary opposition between the two adversaries.

This manner of introducing new adversaries is used in every Spider-Man movie to date and every Batman film from 1989’s Batman (a Joker origin story which secondarily explores Bruce Wayne’s beginnings) to 1997’s Batman & Robin (which has three villain origin stories as well as turning into Batgirl Begins in the third act.)

Even The Incredibles, a superhero film which doesn’t explore Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl’s origins as heroes and safely puts the rest of the titular family’s abilities down to genetics, is an origin story for Syndrome, who goes from fanboy to lunatic in exactly the kind of finessed way that The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Electro didn’t.

In terms of villains, it’s appealing to explore their psychology and to some extent that’s true of the hero too. As in Raimi’s Spider-Man, the appealing part of origin stories is watching the hero learn how to be heroic, whether they already have the means or not.

However, this too has been taken to ludicrous extremes in the stage of the hero’s journey commonly known as “refusing the call”. Having been invited into a world of fantastical powers and opportunities, some false tension is generated by having our protagonist hesitate over whether to accept.

It’s forgivable in instances where there’s an interesting personal conflict that compels the character to stall, (Wolverine isn’t exactly a team player in X-Men, and neither is Magneto in First Class) but one year on, it’s still tough to believe we saw a whole Superman movie in which the hero was brought up to keep his head down and not use his abilities to help anyone, to the extent where we need to see a contrived formative event which helped him realise killing was bad and saving people was good, purely for the sake of mythologizing every aspect.

Man Of Steel had its upside as well as its mis-steps, but this approach was exactly the kind of thing that made 2011’s Green Lantern such a universally deplored film. The movie’s Hal Jordan needs a pep talk before any imminent threat even makes itself apparent and outright quits before he’s even done with his training montage. It’s Refusing The Call: The Movie.

Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern

On a side note, with animated series and comics having preceded the live-action film, doesn’t any kid who gives a damn about Green Lantern these days think of John Stewart rather than Hal Jordan? There are many reasons why that film bombed at the box office, (principally because it got some deservedly toxic word of mouth) but perhaps if they hadn’t gone so far back to the literal origin of the character, they might have picked up some more interest.

Elsewhere, Marvel Studios has hit these beats more confidently - the aforementioned Iron Man is a near-masterpiece, The Incredible Hulk relegates the irradiation of Bruce Banner to a recap in the opening credits, and Thor is actually about taking a powerful and arrogant character down a peg or two by exploring a long-existing family dynamic.

Counter to the Refusing The Call trope, Captain America instantly overtakes his fellow Avengers in The First Avenger, by continuing to persevere in trying to enlist in the army. This is despite being so skinny that he’s actually refused BY the call for the whole of the first act. Steve Rogers might be unique as a capital-G Good guy, but dedicating whole films to an origin story too often lead to films in which the hero shirks off helping people until we can all accept that they’ve grown by the third act.

Arguably the only film in recent memory that has revamped a comic book character for the screen by telling “a day in the life” is the much praised Dredd. We don’t get a trumped up story of Dredd going through fascist police academy and the criminal culture is already entrenched in Mega City One. Hero and villain are fully realised when the movie begins, entering the story when Dredd puts on his helmet in the morning and exiting when this unusually eventful working day is done.

We’re not saying that what worked for Dredd works for superheroes too, but it proves that you can take an active, character-led approach to adapting comic books, rather than reverting to the literal start point.

But whether it’s the hero’s origin story or the villain’s origin story, most superhero movies seem wedded to the concept of introducing every character right from the beginning. When we’ve already introduced most of the heroes at least once, the act of re-telling often borders on un-cinematic, especially when filmmakers re-tread information we already know from a previous screen version in a marginally different manner.

The message seems to be filtering through, with plans for Batfleck to arrive fully formed as the next incarnation of the Dark Knight, but you can bet that Wonder Woman, Aquaman and perhaps even Green Lantern again, will be taken all the way back to their beginnings after presumably being introduced in action in the Justice League movie.

We’ve previously written about the advantages and disadvantages of adapting directly from comics in the past- there’s an aspirational appeal to these origin stories, but in some cases, they feel as if they’re being played out of necessity. As superhero films saturate the blockbuster marketplace, perhaps dispensing with the more familiar backstories and simply leading with character and action could be one way to keep the genre and its characters fresh in the future.

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More Dredd. Right now.

Interesting article! The vibe I get from your writing, Mark, is though that you just hated watching Spider-man get his powers AGAIN just after he got them a couple of years ago. And then you find a lot of similarities and extend them to other Superhero movies.

All fair points, and all stuff I agree with. I found it tedious to watch Garfield's Peter Park go through the motions, just trying so hard to find this time's unique selling point. Ultimately, seing a rerun of "This is where we start" is just tiring.

Now I would argue, however, that every fresh Superhero story needs their origin - as well as sometimes even reboots.

The origin story is more than just the transformation of Joe Plumber to Super Mario. It is also laying the groundwork for the whole movie. What kind of science are we dealing with? What are the rules of the universe? How do people react to the unknown, to the exemption that is the hero's powers?

I would argue that without these kinds of information, the viewer would have no baseline upon which to judge the rest of the movie and everything that follows up. Without it, there would be less tension.

Case in point - even the new Batman v Superman: Attorneys at Law still needs their heroes introduction; fortunately, since it's a sequel, much of what's needed has already been established by Man of Steel. But you can bet, that we will get at least a short explanation of why a grown man would don a bat costume outside of the bedroom.

And that's leading into the second point: As a viewer, we need to see the change in character, the advancement of the story through a change in life circumstances and motivations of the main character. For superheros, that's very easy - it's the point in time when they got their superpowers.

You can see the Origin story with every other movie, though, too! Ben Stiller's Zoolander needs to show us how he's the best supermodel there is, before being able to push him down the stairs and into the abyss.

Saving Private Ryan needs to show us how the Big One is forged in the merciless crucible of Omaha Beach before it can show us what it means to risk many lives to save a single one.

And yes, even Dredd has it's origin story - it's the chase scene at the beginning of the movie that shows us how merciless and badass Dredd is, to set his character and to introduce us to the world so that we can better understand his opposite's reactions.

To summarize: Yes, every superhero story needs an origin. But there are ways to get it right and inventive, and there are ways to screw it up. One surefire way of the latter is to reboot it after six years.

I think you are blurring the distinction between a full origin story and one or two opening scenes in a movie used to establish the current status-quo. Admittedly, quite where you draw the line between these two things is tricky, but I would argue that a single chase scene to establish that our protagonist is a bad ass, is not an origin story. Especially if for the most part, that character just continues to be a bad ass throughout.

Oh Yes!

I said it before, more superheros need to look at the biggest Franchises.

James Bond took until Casino Royal and the sky fall to deal with any of his back story

Doctor Who has dealt with snippets of his past but never a full origin

I love a good origin story but I usually love it more when I have an established series and it's a nod to their past.

Not a franchise but I love the West Wing and it's characters arrived fully formed, it was only later when they were all established did the show flashback to the origins of this team of people or to Jed's decision to run. It was fundamentally more powerful because we cared deeply about these characters and knew how they would end up.

I see your point and understand your criticism. I would then like to know where you draw the line between Superhero origin story and setup/introduction part of a movie?

Are you ready Rookie? You look ready

Aquaman and Wonder Woman will need origin stories surely? As much as I know the name 'Wonder Woman' and the famous red and gold suit and whip, I personally know nothing about her, and I assume lots of the non geek public wont either. And Aquaman...? Well, don't even get me started on how little I know about that fishy ba5tard.

Green Lantern deserves a better origins story to what he got before, so I would like to see that done again right this time.

The reason this new Batman can get away with it is because we have had so many Batman films, everyone knows the score. We do not need a 3rd origins film.

It all depends on how they are handled, Spider-man, Batman and Superman are cultural icons, my wife knows how those three got there powers/abilities and she has never read a comic, watched a cartoon/film etc. With those you could get it over and done with in a scene, maybe even a line of dialogue. Marvel had the hardest job with the characters they were using..Iron who? Captain what? They needed a proper introduction to the masses. I knew who they are my money is in the bank, again my wife?.. not so much. For her it is the first time she's encountered them, who are they what are they about? How did they get those abilities? How this is presented should then be left up to the character, as the article states Marvel got this right, three different style stories, but they were all origins. Spider-Man? a widely known household names story told the same way twice in six years with a couple of changes for changes sake, thats your problem.
In summary, Spider-Man it is all your fault this question even needs asking!

Spider-Man gets his powers from a spider bite? SPOILERS!!!!!

I think its important to establish origins but I don't think its always necessary to devote the opening 30 minutes of story to it. A lot of origin can be told in quick flashback and doesn't always require such detailed exposition.

A origin story without an origin story movie? The Incredible Hulk did it right! And The Avengers too actually.
Marvel: "Hey, maybe not the same actor but this is Dr. Bruce Banner. You know they guy, don't you?"
Audience: "Well, of course we do. ... Wow, this IS Bruce Banner/Hulk!"

Thanks for your comments, Mike. Here's where I'd personally draw the line- even in the comics, I feel the superhero's origin story is the only edition in which the story isn't about anything else but exposition. To compare and contrast Batman examples, Batman Begins is an origin story, 1989 Batman isn't, because although we find out a little about Bruce Wayne's beginnings, it comes from other characters investigating Batman/Bruce and it's a subplot alongside a larger story.

Keaton's Batman is set up in a single scene, with the crooks talking about the urban myth that has risen up around him, and then his full-on arrival, complete with his MO of putting the shits up Gotham's criminal element. Granted, it cedes to a Killing Joke-lite Joker origin story after that, but in my opinion, it still has more economical storytelling than a Green Lantern or Amazing Spider-Man.

Begins and Iron Man are both films which play the origin story straight and linger over the details, but both excel as character pieces, which neither of those other films are as interested in.

Good comment- I'd normally agree, except that they're all going to be in 2017's Justice League movie before they get solo movies. We will have seen them in action already because that's what fits WB's business plan, so I sincerely hope that we'll learn about them through action in that movie, rather than exposition. I'd expect to learn more about them in their respective movies, but in cinema, there shouldn't be a need to regress to the story that happened before the story we've seen.

Okay, so your opinion would be to either make the origin story count towards the bigger story itself or just make it as short as possible?

Because that's something I would fully agree on.

Tim Burtons Batman did a good job of not just telling his origin in a boring linear way by peppering the film with flashbacks.
Only problem with it was the Joker killed my parents stuff

Yep, bang on.

Okay then!

/I did not want to post three of them. -.-

Watchmen did it right. The Dr. Manhattan flashback halfway through the movie explained everything you needed to know about his origin beautifully in 5 minutes or so, along with gorgeous Philip Glass music.


Although that's actually how it was done in the comic as well :-)

Snyder literally went by the book (except for the ending)

Yes and Snyder in fairness did a great job if getting it right, though when I saw it in the cinema I had to give out to some bloke messing with his phone through that pivotal scene, one of my favourites in the book also. Grrr cinema messers..

Good point, i didn't think about the order in which WB are releasing these DC films.

After this Batman V Superman film, is the Justice League movie next on the agenda?? Or is it Man of Steel 2?

I would really like to see some other solo films first so we can actually get to know and care about all of the characters for the Justice League movie.

Marvel is not the only way, but it's worked wonders.

I HATE CINEMA TEXTERS! I am glad you spoke up.

I went to see Edge of Tomorrow last week at the 02 Cineworld (please don't judge me, it wasn't showing anywhere else!), and they are now PROMOTING the use of mobiles during films. Something to do with an app you can use during the film to find out info about it or something.

I could not believe it.

Soon we will have everyone on their phones not paying attention to whats on screen and making me a very angry person. You wouldnt like me when I'm angry. I dont get strong or anything, I just get very annoying.

Apparently it's Justice League in 2017 and Man of Steel 2 in 2018, with other solo movies sprinkled all around. I can't see the mooted schedule panning out- they have three movies in 2016 (BvS, Shazam, Sandman) in addition to the other studios' superhero licences (X-Men, Spider-Man, Cap, Dr Strange?) Either each year will start to get way more crowded or something will give before then.

That's disgusting. Mobile phones should be banned from use once the lights dim. Certainly during Watchmen I had to walk down a number of steps to have words with the neanderthal and his phone. Put it away or face the consequences pal.

Have you ever danced with the Devil in the pale moonlight?

I think it's good to explain a superheroes back story but there's no need to devote an entire film to it. Like someone says below, Tim Burton's Batman did it well with flashbacks, and the first couple of X-Men films did it well with hinting Wolverine's past over the course of the film plots (then mangled it when they tried to do an origin film).

That being said, the first Iron Man film was quality.

I am very excited about Sandman and Dr Strange!

Nice to see them trying something a bit 'out there'.

Still a bit surprised they didn't make a Man of Steel 2 before Batman Vs Superman.

It's all a bit of a strangled route they are taking eh!?

However, I am beyond excited about seeing these 2 in the same film.

The internet is literally going to implode when the 1st official image of Batman and Superman is released.

I hope I have some Kleenex nearby when it happens...
(too much information?)

Within the context of the film itself, it was pretty cool - Batman made the Joker, but Jack Napier made Batman first. As part of the Batman mythology, however...nah.

Ant-Man should be able to play around with it. I'm hoping they make it so Hank Pym has been Ant-Man in the past (easy to explain why nobody noticed) and have Scott Lang (is it Lang in the film? I forget) steal the suit like in the comics. Only problem is he isn't a well known character so it will need some of the background I guess.
Also Guardians could be good on this case, if it only shows Quill's origin in flashback form.

I know they arent Superheros (but then nor is Batman) but The Black Widow and Hawkeye dont get their origins explained in the movies

The Avengers had essentially three whole origin movies preceding it though.

I've seen that add too. If texting during movies becomes the norm/acceptable - I will stop going to the cinema, I feel so strongly about it, it drives me absolutely spare.

Arguably, Thor isn't an origin story. Alright he's a douchebag at the start and he becomes more "heroic" in the traditional sense throughout the film, so I guess you could say it's a "coming of age" story, but I wouldn't say it's an origin story, simply because he doesn't really become anything more than he is at the start (power's wise).

Indeed, and even the ending wasn't that much of a departure from the comic, and made more sense in terms of a real human film, and the two minutes to midnight theme that runs throughout the comic.

Is that the Cinime thing? If so, it doesn't promote phone use during the film - in theory (but not always practice), there are quizzes before the film that you can use your phone for, then once it's done, it says 'put your phone away and enjoy the film'.

To wipe away your tears of joy I assume...

I think DC might be onto a winner if they do Justice League right. Before I saw Avengers the only Marvel movie I'd seen was Thor, so I came in not knowing the origin stories of most of the characters and within the next week I'd gorged myself on Iron Man 1 and 2 and Captain America because I actively wanted to know their origin stories. However, I already knew the origins of Hulk because I grew up watching the TV series so I wasn't interested in seeing the two Hulk movies. On the other hand an origin story is not really necessary if the film is done right, and for this I cite the original Star Wars trilogy where the only origin story we got was Luke's and all the other characters were just thrown at us fully formed. Then we got the prequels which changed my perception of Darth Vader so much that I now think of him as Anakin in a suit instead of The Dark Lord of the Sith.

The reason most superhero movies require some sort of origin story is that it greatly helps enable the audience's suspension of disbelief, especially if the film takes place in the "real world."

Movies like The Incredibles and Dredd that don't necessarily provide origin stories for the heroes themselves are usually able to get away with this by at least explaining the origins of the world in which the story is set so that audiences can buy in to what they're watching.

To be fair, we also had D-Box seats which I had never experienced. That alone was enough to make me never go back!

If people MUST text or go on FB to let people know where they are, then they can at least turn the brightness down on their phones.

I just cant comprehend the lack of respect for the people around them. That almost angers me more than the bright light itself.

I actually mean more that they gave us a new actor as Bruce Banner. No reboot needed! (But I do wonder where Betty and General Ross are at this moment in the MCU.)

I like Green Lantern more than The Dark Knight, because I find it more enjoyable to watch.

I don't think Dredd is a particularly good example because he's not a super hero. He may be a genetically engineered clone designed to produce the perfect Judge, but that story is just a retcon of the original version of Dredd who was just a hard-nosed lawman in a dystopian future. He doesn't have any super powers, he did not stop being one thing and become another thing. He is Dredd, and that's all that we need to know.

It's a straight up superhero movie. I just rewatched it recently and found it to be on about the same level as FF, to me anyway. I don't agree with you, but I don't argue taste, that's pointless. To me thought, TDK is the Godfather of comic book movies.

Funny you say that cuz I don't see it that way. It's as if there are 2 Darth vaders, the real one and the guy that wore the helmet for 2 minutes at the end of 3 long, boring movies. In the midquel, in my brain, Jason voorhees decapitated Anakin and learned to use the force and his words rather than unkillable monster strength. Too many tied up rights, platinum Dunes was down, George said "hmmmm, nope, I'll go with Disney" which is why I'm still an X-ray tech.

I do think that the first Andrew Garfield film gets an unfairly bad press. I agree that Sony got it wrong doing an origin story so close to the previous one, but it's actually a decade apart from Raimi's 2002 film - might seem like nit-piking, but it's better, and *slightly* more understandable than 6 years, albeit only slightly.

They probably looked at what happened to the Batman films once Burton was no longer involved, with each new film becoming camper and more messy. After Singer left the X-Men films Brett Ratner produced a mess of a third film after 'picking up the reins' and using the same characters. Also, if they want to make a series of films with largely the same cast, there is obviously a desire to 'create a world', and that's ideally done with an origin story.

Having watched the 2012 film again - and this is as a Spider-man fan of about 30 years, and a massive fan of the DeFalco/Frenz era - I love Andrew Garfield's Spider-man. He fights, moves and talks *EXACTLY* as I'd envisaged all those years ago, and physically he's a better Peter Parker than Maguire's gnome-like features. Plus the film isn't as bright and overly-saturated as Raimi's films. Garfield and Stone have great chemistry, too. What let it down is the over-familiarity with this particular origin story, and a spectacularly weak villain.

So while I think the 2012 films gets a bad press (I haven't seen this year's), no-one should be THINKING of doing an origin story for any character who's been on film since all this started with X-Men. Makes it a smart move on behalf of DC to just introduce Batman, and we'll have to hope that when Sony enivatbly reboot Spidey again, they'll just leap straight in.

Hang on, it's not quite fair to compare Dredd (which was teh awesomeness) and MCU/DCU characters because Dredd is a relatively simple character (bad ass cop in future setting), everything you need to know about him is done easily.

If we take Superman then it's alien baby sent from doomed home world to planet which happens to give him amazing powers which his adoptive parents get him to hide until he's old enough to use them properly whilst maintaining a disguise. Far more convoluted.

I get that some of the origins stories have got so convoluted on screen that the viewer is, should they try to link everything together, reminded of an MC Escher picture (yes, Spidey in your forms, I mean you). However, would the upcoming Super/Batman thing be possible without Supermans origin story having been told already?

Hey Eckhardt. Think about the future.


Good point. Kung fu movies nail that. They're also good at NOT starting that way, but with established characters that we don't know running into characters that THEY don't know. Neo didn't know what trinity and Morpheus knew, but the movie starts with her. Classic opening. Yet crouching tiger, hidden dragon has Chou and Michelle talking about an ancient sword, the theft of which prompts another classic fight.

Side note, now that I'm thinking about classic fights: The most classic fight in the MCU is Thor vs Cap and Iron Man, which is a shame. Everyone seems to forget Hulk vs Abomination.

Dredd has set the benchmark on how to produce a modern comic book movie without the need for unnecessary exposition and we need more! :-)

I agree about Garfield he is great and his chemistry with miss stone is killer, I think what that film did right is outweighed by the bad. If you're going to be so bold as to reboot something that really wasn't all that long ago you have to be fresh and have something new to say, the new Spidey films failed in that regard as far as I'm concerned. Snyder with Batman seems to be at least trying something a bit different which in itself is to be admired, throwing him in with Superman is something we haven't seen before and could lead to something great....or he could f@#k it up completely! time will tell.

OMG, I'm so glad we don't have this (yet) in France :o !

One of the best superhero team movies ever, Mystery Men, didn't bother with origins. It was content just to be seven shades of Awesome...

I'm actually sick of origin stories in the cinema. Just get on with it and gives a awesome hero. I think in all honesty since Wonder Woman is being introduced in Batman v Superman, I feel like a vagueness of her origin (since it always changes in the comics unlike Bats and Supes) would be good. Cyborg on the other hand will probably have his in the JL movie like JL: War animated movie.

"is an origin story for Syndrome, who goes from fanboy to lunatic in exactly the kind of finessed way that The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Electro didn’t."


aww uploading converts GIFs to JPGs.

THe Amazing Spider-man wasted a whole hour of its run time with yet another Spider-man origin story. Admittedly this was the best bit of the film largely due to Martin Sheens performance, but there wasnt a single person sitting in that cinema who didnt know he was bitten by a radioactive spider. Totally unnecessary

Couldn't agree more, you pin striped freak.

Superman's origin should never again be depicted in any film. It should be common knowledge at this point. A five-year old should be able to recite it, right along with the Pledge of Allegiance and his ABC's.

Not sure I'd count Dredd as a superhero, he's just a badass future cop, but nevertheless he's my favourite comic book adaptation of recent times (such a shame that we won’t probably see more of the same). However I do like origin stories when well done such as the original 1978 'Superman' and more recently in 'Batman Begins' which was by far my favourite movie of the trilogy and one which would easily have stood alone even if no other films where made.

A superhero who EMP blasts movie theatre auditorioums just before the film starts?

Finally, someone else who likes Batman Begins more than the others!

Dredd was also superb and i think we may see another one at some point. Karl Urban seems to be on a one man crusade to make it happen, the guy is quickly taking Nathan Fillion's crown as the fans favourite sci-fi actor!

Controversial to say this but I actually liked MoS's krypton portrayal. I just remember seeing it in the cinema and the sound was immense! Then right at the end I just couldn't help but see the ice-cube-penis-pods and laugh (a clear sign of my immaturity)

totally agree, watched it last weekend because it showed up on Netflix and couldn't help but think "hurry up already!"

It also set the benchmark for bad advertising and how not to release a movie. :(

The origin story in Dredd is told by Dredd at the very start. It's just an exposition. Nuclear fallout, one big city with massive populations, crime is inevitable and cops are outnumbered. 2 mins, done! Brilliant!

They got Star Wars wrong because the story was about Anakin... the story should have been about Obi-Wan.

Let's hope Disney restore your faith in the galaxy far far away!

Hawkeye doesn't (with those bow skills my guess he is Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves transported through time). Black Widow is an ex KGB agent who defected (that is explained in Winter Soldier)

I saw that too! Soon we'll have apps where you can point your phone at the screen and it will come up with trivia!

As far as i'm concerned it is promoting the use of your phone in the cinema. There should be a strict no phone rule in the cinema. Sure, some people may need to take a call (as i have done when i'm on call for work) but when it rings, excuse yourself from the screen and take it.

Problem is the screens are so massive you'd be as well just taking out a lightsaber and waving it around!

Sorry, but Batman Begins owns Iron Man. It's still my favourite superhero film (just edging Dredd), a film that I think is better than The Dark Knight.

We know how it goes though. :)

My spoiler sense is tingling

Solid article but Mark seems to be distracted by his worship of Iron Man and his disapproval of The Amazing Spider-Man. I realise such views aren't exactly rare, but all the same...
Green Lantern didn't fail because it insisted on doing an origin story; it failed because the script was straight-up awful (and more than likely a hodge-podge of countless rewrites.) Choosing to focus on John Stewart would have been strange, since GL lore constantly touts Hal Jordan as the greatest ever Lantern.
I agree with other commenters: if it's not a top tier superhero, the masses will require an origin story. The weirder the powers (hello, Green Lantern), the more likely you'll need to focus on it. It's then just a question of how well written the story is.

Yeah - hard to tell with some of these films - I was one of the people saying Heath Ledger would be a terrible joker, and we all know how that turned out!

I agree that there was a lot wrong with the first Andrew Garfield Spider-man, but I still find it entertaining, and get the impression it was a film that had to just be got past before they could fully explore their world - almost like Sony knew it...but wanted an origin to set up a new 'world'. It's still classy and looks great...just a little boring in places as the storyline is so familiar.

They were hamstrung with the origin and changed as much as possible without going radically different, but were always going to reboot as Spider-man - even the 'weak' films - is such a cash-cow for them.

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