Prequels have always been big business, across genres and eras. Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom helped to advance what would become one of the all-time great adventure series (even if it’s almost easy to forget it’s a prequel!). The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly marked the “first” installment of the Dollars trilogy (even though it was the last to be made and released). And 2002’s Kermit’s Swamp Years, detailed everyone’s favourite frog’s first encounters with humans (paving the way for his finding fame, fortune, and Elton John on The Muppet Show).
More recent prequels, meanwhile, have largely come from franchises with long-established lore. Think of the Star Wars prequels for instance, or X-Men Origins: Wolverine. These are based mostly on known stories that simply hadn’t produced their own films yet.
But the recently announced Wonka prequel appears to be a little different. If one were to have predicted what a Wonka film beyond the classic tale of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory might look like, the obvious guess would have been that it would adapt Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator –– Roald Dahl’s written (and thus far un-adapted) sequel. What few if any saw coming instead was a Wonka origin story –– let alone one starting perhaps the biggest up-and-coming A-lister in Hollywood in Timothee Chalamet.
To spell it out then, we’re soon to see a major star depicting an origin story no one really asked for or expected. It’s not entirely unlike what we witnessed with Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker turn, or what we may see in the forthcoming Lightyear film (in which Chris Evans will voice Buzz Lightyear). It’s a fascinating new trend, perhaps most of all because it would seem to open the door to all sorts of similar projects. That’s what we want to dig into here, with a few surprise origin story suggestions of our own…
If the themes from Moana are fairly standard Disney fare (identity, self-discovery, and a redemption arc), then perhaps it’s fair to say that Dwayne Johnson’s Maui is actually the film’s most interesting character. Maui as a character pops up all over Pacific mythology, more often as a folk hero than the sort of demigod he paints himself as in Moana. In fact, there are all sorts of stories that would make for excellent character offshoots.
Per Look Into Hawaii’s overview of Maui, this heroic figure is known for creating the Hawaiian islands, snaring the sun, raising the sky, and more. Writers would have a lot of material to work with if in fact they set to work crating a Maui-centric origin prequel. Is he really a god? Is he the wise man of Tahitian mythology, or the trickster of Maori folklore? Or is he some hybrid of these characters? Most important of all, do we want to hear Dwayne Johnson rap through an animated character again? (Yes. Yes we do.).
The boneheaded sequels and various TV spinoffs (not to mention the animated series) overlooked the nature of 1987’s Robocop as a dystopian satire –– treating the material instead as a pure action vehicle. Sadly this makes all of these follow-up projects more or less irrelevant. However, it also leaves plenty of room for more faithful additions to this franchise, such as an exploration of Officer Murphy’s earlier days. The themes of societal collapse and all-powerful private corporations running our lives certainly haven’t gone away in the decades since the original film. In fact, one could argue these themes are more relevant than ever. Additionally, successful projects like Black Mirror and Squid Game have provided proof there’s a willing audience for deeply uneasy almost-fiction. All of this makes for fertile ground for a Robocop origin saga, which done correctly could be truly fantastic.
We know that the “Wizard” in The Wizard Of Oz, The Wizard Of Oz is actually Oscar Diggs –– a con man from Omaha, Nebraska who sailed a hot air balloon into Oz by accident and found himself being worshipped as a sorcerer, and eventually ruling the land. What we don’t know is how he made that leap, advancing his own myth and establishing poker. But wouldn’t that all be fun to see?
Believe it or not, this is actually an idea that stems from an online slot game on Gala Casino. The game is called “Legacy of Oz,” and it appears to portray Diggs in his interim period. In the game he looks to be a powerful young man rather than an amateur Midwestern huckster or the old shell Judy Garland’s Dorothy meets in the classic movie. This “wizard” looks suave and devilish, and very much like a man who might swindle a realm into believing in his magic. The possibilities for expanding on this character are virtually limitless (particularly if the witches are included as well).
When you think back on Peter Pan, or even the movie Hook, do you ever stop to think about the fact that you kind of have no idea who Captain Hook even is? He comes to us as a fully formed villain, and but for the notion that he lost one of his hands to Peter and a crocodile, we know very little about his past. How exactly did he come to be sailing the seas of Neverland? How did he establish himself as a fearsome pirate in the first place? What does he want, aside from vengeance against Peter? And where did he actually come from? The (bad) 2015 film Pan sought to address some of these questions, but there hasn’t been an adequate exploration of Hook’s origins. We’d love to see one –– preferably in live action.
We’re spitballing with these ideas, of course. But if Chalamet’s Wonka booms at the box office (and Evans’s Lightyear does thereafter), there’s every reason to suspect additional origin stories will follow.
Whether any of these ideas make the cut or something else entirely materializes, we’ll bring you the news here at Somewhere!