You know what I hate? Origin stories. I love reading biographies, but do I really need five chapters of great grandparents through parents and their immigrant stories and high lights and low lights of their lives. If you’re not awesome enough to have someone write your biography, you might at least score a paragraph in the biography of your awesome descendant, No. You didn’t earn it. Get out my books!. Also, do I care about some lame story from Abraham Lincoln’s childhood? No, I do not. Here’s how every Lincoln biography should start. Abraham Lincoln was born. He got really tall. And BOOM it’s the 1850’s and stuff is happening.
The worst offenders by far are writers or screenwriters who are planning to create a series. The best series of books or movies are always the ones that were meant to be a single piece, but were so awesome, that the creator made sequels. I just finished listening to “Wicked” on Audible. It was clearly intended to be the first part in a series, as the whole book was back story. If you’re thinking of reading it, I’ll save you some time. The wicked witch of the west was born green, which is unusual. She’s misunderstood and also water makes her melt. If I’m the author of that story, I’ve now got 700 blank pages to fill with an interesting story.
The same goes for super heroes. Boy, does it ever! Everyone knows the back stories for Superman, Spiderman and Batman. There is absolutely no reason to to retell the origin story in each new comic line or movie. Are we to believe there is an audience member out there who doesn’t know Superman came from Krypton as a baby, and they find themselves at a Superman movie saying, “Wait minute. Why can this guy fly?” Really? Do directors of superhero movies just plan for a trilogy immediately, knowing they can basically plagiarize the whole first film?
The entire first hour of the last Spiderman movie and the the first one in the prior trilogy can be replaced with the following exchange:Villain: “Holy Crap. You can crawl up walls like a spider.” Spiderman: “I was bit by a radioactive spider when I was in high school, and badda-bing, spider powers.”
Then we spend the rest of the movie watching action happen.
The movie that got this right was “The Incredible Hulk”, the one with Edward Norton. (My mind is now visualizing Art Carney as Ed Norton as the Hulk.) That movie starts with Bruce Banner in some third world country trying to deal with being the Hulk. When he hulks out in the first act, no one said, “Wait. What’s happening here?” Everyone said, “Yeah, Hulk Smash!!!”
And in the end, that’s what we all want. More smashin’ and less yappin’.