50 Greatest Movie Origin Stories

El Mariachi

The Origin Story: An out-of-work musician arrives in a small border town and is mistaken for a recently-escaped convict. When local hoodlums kill his woman, he begins a bloodthirsty quest for revenge.

Essential Elements Introduced: Once a soft-spoken musician in search of love and luck, our hero becomes a cold-blooded killer after watching everybody (and we mean everybody) die around him.

Saved For The Sequels: His face might change, but El Mariachi's desire for getting even doesn't abate for another two films.

Red Dragon

The Origin Story: Though not the first time we've been introduced to Hannibal Lecter (Michael Mann's 1986 attempt notwithstanding), Red Dragon is the film in which we see how the doctor ended up in an institution as he assists the man who caught him with the case of another serial killer.

Essential Elements Introduced: The ultimate evil genius, Lecter is the purest form of sociopath.

Saved For The Sequels:
If there's any human left in Hannibal, it'll be the feminine wiles of Clarice Starling who'll make him remember it.

The Crow

The Origin Story: After he and his fiancée were brutally murdered, Eric Draven returns from the dead to wreak bloody revenge on those who killed them.

Essential Elements Introduced:
Being dead and all, Eric is immune to physical harm. Oh, and he seems to have picked up a pet crow that helps him on his quest.

Saved For The Sequels: Think of a wrongful death, and the magical crow will find a way to resurrect an agent of vengeance. It's basically the same story over and over again, though.

Despicable Me

The Origin Story: Jealous of a young pretender, super-villain Gru comes up with a dastardly plot to steal the moon and callously involves three innocent orphans in his plan. But it's not long before the girls soften his heart.

Essential Elements Introduced: Clever, cold-hearted and cruel, Gru makes an ace villain. Or he would if it weren't for his soft centre.

Saved For The Sequels: Big, happy hearts don't make for great villains, so what's Mr Gru to do? Take a wild guess.

Lethal Weapon

The Origin Story: Distraught after the death of his wife, Sergeant Martin Riggs is reassigned to homicide and partnered with disillusioned veteran Roger Murtaugh to investigate the death of a friend's daughter. Ultimately, the pair bond while bringing down a bunch of heroin-smuggling former-special ops Vietnam vets.

Essential Elements Introduced: Having received extensive hand to hand combat, expert martial arts and extensive weapons training during the war, Riggs is something of an action man. But it's his extensive personal demons which are more interesting.

Saved For The Sequels:
Suffice to say there's much more to the death of Riggs' wife than meets the eye.


The Origin Story: Thanks to the experimentations of his father and a bit of his own accidental gamma radiation exposure, Bruce Banner finds he has a serious case of the big, green and uglies whenever he gets a bit upset. Unfortunately, though, daddy is more interested in stealing his son's power than reconnecting.

Essential Elements Introduced: Great fun though it is to see Hulk smashing things, the key thing to remember this character is that he has no desire to embrace his inner rage monster.

Saved For The Sequels: Banner continues to search for a cure, and stay well away from people, while the military continue to covet his 'power'.


The Origin Story: Half-vampire Blade has dedicated his life to hunting down and destroying vamps. But soon he must face his deadliest challenge yet, as the daywalker fights to prevent young vampire Deacon Frost from becoming the embodiment of the ancient blood god La Magra.

Essential Elements Introduced: A superhuman with vampiric powers, Blade's the stoic, silent type and a dab-hand with a sword. His weakness though, is a big one. He thirsts for blood like his brethren - and he's developing a resistance to the serum that keeps him sane.

Saved For The Sequels:
Yet more bloodsuckers to battle as Blade continues to fight his nature. And of course it's not possible to tell a vampire story without eventually involving Dracula...

Kill Bill Vol. 1

The Origin Story: Thirsty for revenge after an ex-boyfriend literally massacred her wedding day, former assassin The Bride, aka Beatrix Kiddo, wakes after four years in a coma and sets about hunting down those who wronged her.

Essential Elements Introduced: The Bride is a formidable, ruthless warrior and kung fu expert who shows no mercy to her enemies. And then there's the iconic yellow outfit, complete with a lethal katana.

Saved For The Sequels: Volume 1 leaves Black Mamba three enemies to find - the titular Bill, his brother Budd and the one-eyed Elle Driver.


The Origin Story: After a ghost causes parapsychologists Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler to lose their jobs, they decide to set up a paranormal exterminator service to take on the spooks of NYC. And happily for Pete, there's a rather attractive womanly type who needs saving from a demonic spirit.

Essential Elements Introduced:
There's all the iconic elements - from the Ghostbusters' firehouse base of operations, to the ghost-catching Proton Pack and their phantom sidekick Slimer.

Saved For The Sequels:
Though our heroes are, indeed, heroes following their defeat of the demigod Gozer, there's always a fall-out.

A Fistful Of Dollars

The Origin Story: A cigarillo smoking traveller decides to end the civil war in between two families in a small Mexican border town, by playing them against each other.

Essential Elements Introduced: A pistol-handy mystery man of dubious morals, the Man with no Name is a new kind of cowboy.

Saved For The Sequels: To be honest, there's no real journey for the trigger-happy gunslinger - but there is plenty more adventure, and plenty more riding off into the sunset.