50 Greatest Movie Origin Stories

Toy Story

The Origin Story: When a boy receives the coolest birthday present ever, the toy must come to terms with his true nature. Buzz Lightyear might believe he's a space ranger from the Intergalactic Alliance, but he is in fact simply a plastic plaything.

Essential Elements Introduced: A dreamer with a can-do attitude, Buzz is bold, bossy and belligerent.

Saved For The Sequels: As he bonds with the other toys of Andy's room, Buzz loses the arrogance and becomes a loyal friend. He even finds love. Aw.

Iron Man

The Origin Story: When wealthy playboy and industrialist Tony Stark is captured by terrorists, he creates a powered suit of armour to escape and decides to use his invention to protect the world and make it a better place.

Essential Elements Introduced: Tony's genius means he's capable of making just about anything from an old washing up bottle and a paperclip. He'd make a great Blue Peter presenter. There's also the whole morality thing of course. Plus, he's extremely sarcastic and amusing.

Saved For The Sequels: Tony's journey from spoiled boozehound to philanthropist takes a few movies. And there's an inevitable will they / won't they romance, too. (Hint: They do.)

Casino Royale

The Origin Story: After 20 Bond films the 21st finally gave us the origins of Her Majesty's most famous spy as he wins the 00 status that grants him a license to kill. Thus begins Bond's first caper as he goes after terrorist Le Chiffre.

Essential Elements Introduced:
Though still trigger-happy this younger Bond has an air of naiveté about him, leading the spy to allow a treacherous woman to become his downfall and harden his heart.

Saved For The Sequels:
In order for James to become the roguish agent we know and love, he has to go though something of an existential crisis - first avenging his lost love and then faking his own death.

X-Men: First Class

The Origin Story: Recruited by the CIA to battle against nefarious mutant Sebastian Shaw, a young Charles Xavier meets and befriends Erik Lehnsherr - who's looking to thwart Shaw for his own, very personal reasons. A fast friendship develops as they enlist more mutants to their cause, creating the first team of mutant heroes.

Essential Elements Introduced:
Central to the story is the love between Xavier and Lehnsherr, who despite their similarities and mutual respect, can't reconcile their differences.

Saved For The Sequels:
We've yet to see how the relationship between Professor X and Magneto, as they will henceforth be known, descends into all-out enmity.

Star Trek

The Origin Story: After numerous TV series and films we finally went back in time to the beginnings of James T Kirk's adventures with Starfleet. On enlisting he meets his future comrades, Uhura, Bones McCoy, Scottie, Sulu, and a frenemy in half-Vulcan Spock.

Essential Elements Introduced: Clever, arrogant and impetuous, Kirk is quickly established as a loveable rogue, whose penchant for rebellion leads to both trouble and triumph.

Saved For The Sequels:
Though we know Kirk and Spock will one day become the best of buddies, JJ Abrams' alternative timeline is taking its time with the bromance.

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone

The Origin Story: Meet orphan Harry Potter, whose magical heritage has been concealed from him by the cruel muggles he lives with. Thankfully, on his 11th birthday, a half-giant finds him, tells him the truth and whisks him off for fun and games at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Essential Elements Introduced: Harry's distinctive lightning-shaped scar is the mark of his connection to the dark wizard that murdered his parents, Lord Voldemort, and therefore key to the entire series as well as Voldy's ultimate downfall.

Saved For The Sequels: Oh, loads. Most interesting, though, are the further connections to Tom Riddle such as his ability to speak to snakes, and the mortal enemies' twin wands.


The Origin Story: On a return trip to Earth, a commercial spaceship responds to a transmission of unknown origin from a nearby planetoid. What they find there is terrifying and destroys most of the crew leaving only one survivor - Ellen Ripley.

Essential Elements Introduced:
A likeable warrior with plenty of attitude, Ripley has a believable soft side hidden underneath a tough exterior, which is important. She's also pretty handy with a gun.

Saved For The Sequels: Initially a wreck after her horrific experience, maternal instincts kick in, giving this heroine a new edge.

The Godfather

The Origin Story: The youngest son of a mafia boss gives up his army ambitions to take over the family firm when his father is nearly assassinated. Sucked in to the criminal life, he eventually becomes Don Michael Corleone, having proved his talents for 'business'.

Essential Elements Introduced: It's not long before we realise that Michael has taken after his father Vito when it comes to intelligence, personality, and cunning.

Saved For The Sequels: Michael's inevitable moral demise plays out over three films. Eventually he tries to fulfil his promise to go legit, but just when he thought he was out... they pull him back in.


The Origin Story: On the dying planet Krypton, scientist Jor-El saves his only son by sticking him in a spaceship and launching it in the general direction of Earth where he's taken in by kindly farm owners. Sometime around his 18th birthday, Clark discovers where he really comes from and resolves to use his powers for good.

Essential Elements Introduced: So there's the dual identity, denoted by a pair of specs, Kal-El's extensive and impressive powers, and his one physical weakness - the deadly green rock Kryptonite. Above all, though, it is very important that we all acknowledge Supes' inherent goodness.

Saved For The Sequels: Having been briefly introduced in the first film, Kal-El meets and battles his own kind in Superman II. And there's also the whole Lois Lane romance.

Batman Begins

The Origin Story: Haunted by the brutal murder of his parents, the privileged Bruce Wayne decides to dedicate his life and fortunate to ridding Gotham of its criminal underbelly. After traveling the world and training in various forms of martial arts, science, and detective work he becomes the masked vigilante Batman.

Essential Elements Introduced: So let's see… Bruce gets all his toys, including a very sexy Batmobile, defeats his first baddies in the shape of mob boss Falcone, the Scarecrow and Ra's Al Ghul and makes a friend in Lieutenant Gordon.

Saved For The Sequels: The Dark Knight's grand plans are still in the nascent stage, so there's plenty of time for him to get used to the cape and cowl. And, of course, there's the doomed love thing going on with Rachel Dawes.