We’ve seen a lot of origin stories in the past few years - Wolverine just came out this summer, Magneto may or may not be happening, there is always Superman and of course Batman’s origin has been told several times. Heck, The Hobbit can even be considered an origin story. Ghost Rider was unfortunately given an origin movie that dated back to the old west. I’m a huge fan of Tremors and the 4th movie went back to the old west as well, for an origin story about the subterranean monster worm.
So I understand why studios and copyright holders want to make origin movies on comic book characters and even monsters, but I cannot for the life of me figure out this latest news coming from "wrastlin" news site Lords of Pain. WWE, in a bid to capitalize on one of their brands, is in the process of making a big-screen film on the origins of the current WWE SmackDown World Heavyweight Champion – The Undertaker. Yeah you read that right, a real-life, old-school wrestler is getting his own origin story. But why?
So far the only thing known about the film is that it will be set in the 1880s and will focus on “The Undertaker” character. The way WWE has handled its properties in the past (XFL anyone?) makes me think this will turn out badly and be a direct-to-DVD film, but website UGO has 4 good suggestions on how to make this a legitimate and successful film.
“Don’t Let The Undertaker Play The Undertaker”
I absolutely agree; we’ve seen what happens when wrestlers try to take their over-hyped, under-scripted performances from the mat to the screen. It’s neither pretty nor entertaining. Sure there have been some successes; Hulk Hogan (back in the day), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena (mildly), even Andre the Giant (The Princess Bride) but there have been some real stinker performance as well. Can anyone say Triple H in Blade III, Kane in See No Evil or Randy “Macho Man” Savage in Spiderman? Even though They Live is a cult classic, Roddy “Rowdy” Piper acted like a cardboard cutout.
“Don’t Have The Actors Wrestle”
Again, I agree; in every first movie a wrestler has done, the WWE has felt the need load it up with the lead actors' “signature” moves. Hulkster did it, “The Rock” did it, John Cena did it and so did Triple H. If we want to watch wrestling moves, then we’ll pile into our jacked-up, mud-covered trucks and head to the coliseum for Monday Night Raw. Onscreen, we just want a decent fight scene.
“Load the movie up with ‘That Guys’”
In case you are wondering, UGO is talking about “the sheriff, the barkeep, the whore with the heart of gold and the evil rich land baron”. These are characters that are common place in most western films. However, UGO is quick to point out that these characters should NOT be played by wrestlers. Yeah, because that's what we need to see: Coco Beware or The Bushwhackers dressed in chaps and riding horses or manning the saloon bar.
“Don’t Rush Things”
Simply worded but filled with truth. If the WWE wants to make this into a franchise character then they need to take their time and do it right. They shouldn’t go rushing things into production just because they want to make a quick buck. If they take a step back and look at things in a wider perspective, then they might actually produce a film worth watching. After all, audiences like westerns and origin stories. Combining the two together in the right way could turn out promising, but only if the WWE does it right.
SIDE NOTE: As I was typing this, our buds at Film Drunk reported that the WWE is also making a film with The Big Show called Knucklehead, where he plays an orphan that never left the orphanage and almost burns it down. To help pay for the damages, he takes a road trip with the head nun and a shady guy to fight in a MMA tournament to win $100,000. Sigh; when we were talking about Hollywood coming up with original ideas, this isn’t exactly what we meant.
What do you think about an Undertaker origin story and did you watch wrestling growing up? Perhaps you still do; it is, after all, a billion-dollar-a-year industry.
No release date for this Undertaker origin film, but we'll keep you posted.