50 Greatest Movie Origin Stories

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The Origin Story: While on a routine mission, two Jedi Knights discover a small boy whose midi-chlorian count is off the charts. They decide he's the prophesied 'Chosen One' who will bring balance to the Force and determine to train him.

Essential Elements Introduced: Heavy exposition tells us that even at such a tender age Anakin is a gifted pilot and engineer and has the ability to "see things before they happen". All of these things are very important.

Saved For The Sequels: Though a touch annoying, Anakin isn't yet evil - for that, he needs to go through loads of fear and anger and hate and suffering… or something along those lines.


The Origin Story: When the lawman of a small town when arrests and abuses a Vietnam veteran suffering from survivor's guilt and post-traumatic stress, he's soon taught a lesson by the experienced soldier.

Essential Elements Introduced: A soldier with exceptional strength and stamina, Rambo is an expert in guerrilla tactics and hand-to-hand combat. And he wears and headband and likes really big knives. That is all.

Saved For The Sequels: He might have come to terms with his past, but Rambo nevertheless remains willing to do violence to save his friends and the people he cares about from any danger. So you can imagine what happens when he heads off to rescue some fellow POWs.


The Origin Story: A small-time boxer gets the chance to prove he's not worthless when heavyweight champion of the world Apollo Creed chooses him at random as his opponent in a title fight.

Essential Elements Introduced: Naive, idealistic and loveable, Rocky is a true fighter who doesn't know the meaning of the word quit.

Saved For The Sequels: And quit he doesn't, going on to smash his way to victory in fight, after fight, after fight. All that punching eventually takes its toll, though…

Sherlock Holmes

The Origin Story: In Victorian London, detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. John Watson investigate several ritual murders. But as they chase the supposedly occult wizard, the pair become targets themselves.

Essential Elements Introduced: Holmes is, like, really, really clever. And Watson's a real-life doctor. It makes for a very good pairing.

Saved For The Sequels: What else could it be but Holmes' ultimate nemesis, Professor Moriarty?

The Hunger Games

The Origin Story: In post-apocalyptic North America, self-sufficient teen Katniss Everdeen is forced to participate in a brutal contest to the death designed to keep the population in order.

Essential Elements Introduced: Strong, courageous and clever, Katniss is a hunter - lethal with a bow and arrow.

Saved For The Sequels: Katniss' victory in The Hunger Games kick starts a revolution, the blame for which Panem's government will place squarely on her shoulders.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The Origin Story: A group of teenagers are terrorised in their dreams by a child murderer. Burned alive years previously, Freddy Krueger has found a way wreak bloody havoc from beyond the grave.

Essential Elements Introduced: Armed with his iconic bladed glove, Krueger resides in the dreamworld… for the most part.

Saved For The Sequels: Like all of cinema's sociopathic serial killers, Freddie's got one hell of a backstory. But it's a while before we find out what happened to him, and why he turned out the way he did.

Men In Black

The Origin Story: After what seems to be an ordinary pursuit of a criminal, New York copper James Darrell Edwards III realises there's a world beyond that which he knows and is recruited to work for a secret non-government agency that polices extraterrestrial alien refugees.

Essential Elements Introduced: Smart, sassy and not a little silly, J is a ray of sunshine in a dour organisation.

Saved For The Sequels: Agent J realises that his life was intertwined with MIB long before he began working for them.

The Fast And The Furious

The Origin Story: Undercover copper Brian is sucked into the world of elite, underground street racing when he befriends ex-convict, mechanic and suspected armed robber Dominic Toretto.

Essential Elements Introduced:
Ooh, look at the shiny cars. They have buttons that do stuff.

Saved For The Sequels: Dom goes from anti-hero to, well… anti-hero with a heart and (very) loose morals as he faces off against various tough-talking police officers and drug barons.

Back To The Future

The Origin Story: Teenager Marty Mcfly is accidentally sent back in time to 1955 where he must help his parents to meet and fall in love lest he and his siblings disappear from existence.

Essential Elements Introduced: Perhaps not the biggest thinker, Marty is brave, resourceful and clever. He also plays a mean guitar and, like any true child of the 80s, knows how to ride a skateboard. But never, ever call him a chicken.

Saved For The Sequels: Marty finds out more about, and interferes further with, his family in both the future and the past as his time travelling adventures continue.

The Bourne Identity

The Origin Story: An unconscious man is rescued by fishermen with no memory of how he got into the water - or how he was shot. Jason Bourne sets about finding out who he is, realising he has some serious ass-kicking abilities, having been trained as an assassin by a shady government agency.

Essential Elements Introduced:
Equipped with crazy hand-to-hand combat skills, and pretty handy with a weapon too, Bourne even has some brains to go with his brawn.

Saved For The Sequels: It's all about the backstory as Bourne goes to extreme measures to get the brainwashing bureaucrats off his back.