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Our top 10 movie back stories that may or may not make a good movie

Posted Thursday, August 14, 2008 at 4:36 PM Central

by John Couture

If there's one thing that we love about our jobs it's reading all the wonderful and sometimes bizarre emails that we get from our readers. Heck, we even started a new weekly feature to recognize the good, the bad and the ugly emails that we get.

However, it's a truly rare occasion when we read something that actually inspires us to create a whole feature about it. But, that's precisely what this email from Andrew in Jackson, Wyoming did:

I feel like every Star Wars fan has been curious about the Clone Wars ever since Ben Kenobi muttered something about it in A New Hope. There we were, as clueless as Luke, boggled at the fact that the nicest dude on Tatooine fought side by side with the meanest bastard of the galaxy.

This email got me thinking. Andrew was right, ever since I was a wee lad visions of this massive and catastrophic Clone War danced in my head limited only by my imagination. And then, George Lucas forever destroyed that image by showing us exactly what the Clone War was. And this weekend, he's beating a dead horse by giving us his definitive rendition of The Clone Wars.

The only problem is that George and I don't share the same vision and the thoughts in my head were way cooler than anything he's done in years. So, I'm left with this great piece of back story that I initially thought would make a kick ass movie, but in reality was far more disappointing.

Andrew was on to something and it wasn't only Star Wars. Every movie uses a plot device or two for back story. If characters only lived in the vacuum of the movie in which they appear, they would be sad, two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. And sadly, some characters springing from the minds of less talented screenwriters never become fully rendered three-dimensional characters.

Mr. Miyagi didn't magically become a karate master when the title treatment for The Karate Kid scrolls by. No, he spent many years in Okinama perfecting his art before settling in to the southern California lifestyle. Now, despite The Karate Kid Part II's best efforts, I never thought for a moment that it would be cool to go back and see Mr. Miyagi as a younger man in Okinawa.

But much like the Clone Wars reference in Star Wars, there have been many instances in film where a small mention or reveal of back story got us excited. Our gut reaction was, 'Man, they need to make a movie about that! I'd gladly pay $10 to see that."

In some cases, they did make that movie. And in most cases when they did make that movie, we were let down. So, without further ado, we present the top 10 back stories that may or may not be feasible as its own stand-alone movie.

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean - Who doesn't want to see more Captain Jack Sparrow? The original trilogy begins with Captain Jack stepping off the mast of his sinking ship and into the events Pirates. But, Jack's back story is rich and multi-faceted. We all know about Black Pearl, but Jack was a pirate desperately struggling to establish his pirating reputation long before he meets Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. And let's admit it, this trilogy is really their story. Many people are clamoring for more Jack adventures set after the trilogy, and in the end they might be right. There's just something a little bit disturbing about seeing a young Captain Jack. On the bright side, we'd probably see more Keith Richards.
  2. The Silence of the Lambs - Anthony Hopkins earned the Best Actor Oscar despite only appearing in the film for just over 16 minutes of screen time. But Hopkins and references to his back story throughout the movie made every viewer believe that this seemingly mild-mannered doctor could be a cold and ruthless killer. Almost immediately, people wanted to know everything about Hannibal the Cannibal and author Thomas Harris was more than happy to oblige through his books (and eventual movies) Red Dragon, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising. These movies explored the character before and after the events of The Silence of the Lambs, as well as Hannibal the Cannibal's warped childhood. I think it's safe to say that the gruesomeness of our imaginations were far superior than all of these films put together.
  3. Pulp Fiction/Reservoir Dogs - Both of these movies are dripping with rich back story and the fact that writer/director Quentin Tarantino keeps hinting at someday going back and fleshing out characters or back story plots as their own movie only serves to make us drool even more. I would say that biggest back story that we would like to see would be the story of the Vega brothers. Michael Madsen plays Vic Vega in Reservoir Dogs while John Travolta plays Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Think of Madsen and Travolta as two bad mofos with cameos from a host of characters from Quentin's universe. Yep, we're stoked too.
  4. American Pie - I'm sure that with the two theatrical sequels and the countless number of direct-to-DVD releases, you're scratching your head trying to figure out what essence of the original movie could we still possibly want to see. Well, the answer to that is simple. We want to see Michelle's tryst with her flute at band camp. Ever since the lovely Alyson Hannigan uttered those words about putting her musical instrument in the holiest of holies, we've never been able to look at a flute in quite the same way. Sure, we got to see the band camp as a sequel in American Pie 2, but it's just not the same. We're not quite sure if seeing this would be good or bad, but we're still intrigued either way.
  5. The Incredibles - This movie was set around the concept of a superhero who has hung up his cape and settled into life in suburbia. As events unfold the entire family is drawn into the superhero life and any chance of getting a Mr. Incredible origin story or even a movie when he was at the height of his crime fighting duties is all but out the window. Still, that didn't make us wonder what team Pixar could do with the right script. I bet it would be pretty phenomenal.
  6. Kill Bill - Quentin Tarantino is a master when it comes to creating rich and vibrant characters. His back stories are legendary and this movie is no exception. After the carnage in this film, I would gladly pay to see a whole movie about The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad when they were at the height of their killing machine glory. The body count would have to be astronomical. The MPAA might have to come with a new QT rating to handle the levels of violence in the movie. At least that's how we see it in our heads.
  7. Clerks/Mallrats - Actually, you can probably insert any and all of Kevin Smith's view askewniverse movies. The fact that the dude has created an entire universe upon which his two main characters Jay and Silent Bob and countless others mingle makes Kevin Smith like the creator of Sims, but for funny movies. Whether it's a chance encounter in a bedroom leading to an alternative lifestyle or watching Smokey finally "give it" to the Bandit, John K throws the best parties and we desperately want an invite.
  8. A Nightmare on Elm Street - Freddy Kruger was a child-preying serial killer who met his "end" at the business end of an incinerator. While his burned visage and claw of knives give him a surly appearance, something tells me that there would an equal amount of creepiness with his earth-bound crimes. Think Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children creepy. And then imagine the burning and searing flesh at the end. Seems like a natural way to kick-start this franchise much like the upcoming Friday the 13th.
  9. Star Wars - We tend to agree with Andrew, our reader that began this little odyssey of ours. When Obi Wan first uttered the words "Clone Wars," our imagination was abuzz with cloned Jedi Knights and blood shed. Heck, what if Obi Wan was a clone? How cool would that be? Sadly the new trilogy and the upcoming film and series has been and looks to be a letdown for us diehard Star Wars fanatics.
  10. The Terminator - Ever since Kyle Reese told a frightened Sarah Connor about the future and how her son leads a resistance against the machines that have basically wiped out humanity, we wanted to see that post-apocalyptic world and war play out. The films have given us glimpses of this back/forward story, but it's not enough. Finally with next year's Terminator Salvation, we will get that vision of the future that has been stuck in our heads since 1984. The only question remains is whether it will live up to our unreasonably high expectations, or will it fall on its face? Only time will tell.

So, how did we do? Are there specific back stories that we forgot about that should be included in this list? Be sure and email us and tell us what you think.