There was a bit of confusion yesterday morning, spawned by a recent Darren Aronofsky interview in which the 'Black Swan' director answered a question about comic book side projects. Aronofsky seemed to be answering "yes" to a question about his involvement with a new Batman project, when in fact he was talking about a completely different project and just didn't make himself quite clear. Many ran with the director's response, as a sure sign he was doing the first post-Christopher Nolan 'Batman' movie, specifically 'Batman: Year One.'
I love Darren Aronofsky, and even I balked at the 'Batman: Year One' news. Would I like to see him do a Batman film? Sure, it's exciting to imagine what he'd do with the property. Would I like to see Batman's origin...again? Not really, no. The prospect of once again seeing Bruce Wayne go through all the tropes of becoming Batman sounds extremely tired to me right now. Yeah, yeah, parents, alley, slow-motion pearls, training, batcaves, zzzzzz. We've seen this song and dance before. It's probably not the popular opinion, but I'm relieved to hear that it's not happening.
But did you hear the one about the boy that was bitten by a radioactive spider? He learned that with great powers comes great responsibility! Oh, you already know that story? It's not stopping Sony from delivering their second Spider-Man origin film in less than a decade. Exactly how saturated does something have to be in the worldwide consciousness before someone realizes we know this stuff already?
Some characters need this treatment more than others. You can't just start a Thor movie with Thor running around on Earth, no questions asked. Marvel is being smart with the property and starting at the beginning. I'm even more giddy about seeing Green Lantern's origin brought to life this Summer. I think origin stories have their place, but do we still need them for the big guns?
When rebooting the Hulk, Louis Leterrier took a chance and cut the origin down to an opening credits montage. He covered just the broad strokes, confident that we'd get the parts we needed to get -- a scientist did something dangerous and dumb, and it resulted in him becoming a monster and running away from society. That's all the audience needs for that character, because we've seen the cartoons and the television show and the parodies and the comics and the pop culture references and the other live-action movie. We get it; we know this guy.
What this allowed Leterrier to do was cut to the chase in regards to superhero action. Not only do we get to see Hulk in action early in the film, but he sidesteps the disappointing schizophrenic nature of the comic book origin story on film, where we're usually treated to a full hour of human drama before a closing hour of costumed battles that are only tenuously related to what's gone on before. The film doesn't feel so much like a reboot as it does Hulk Issue 2, with an all-new creative team -- just like real comics.
The rumors that Zack Snyder is doing Superman's origin again make me twitch. I don't know if I've ever met a person who didn't know that Superman was rocketed to Earth from Krypton and that he chose to use his strange powers (...faster than a locomotive, more powerful than a speeding bullet...) for truth, justice, and the American Way. If anyone wants to know his story, there are literally hundreds of options out there, and even some that are already committed to film. Forget Jor-El and a baby with an s-shaped spit curl in a rocket ship; let's get to the good stuff.
I can't imagine getting James Bond's origin every fourth film. I don't need to know the story behind Godzilla's birth, once a decade. These characters are so ingrained in all of us, there's just no real need for it (unless a character has grown stale and it's time for a twist on a tired tale). Let's move past the opening chapter and cut these characters loose in some truly awesome adventures.
What do you think? How important are origin stories -- are they 100% necessary or do you think we can skip the origins for some of the better known superheroes?