There are always the same issues with prequels. Those that look back upon the youth of a villain soften the most iconically nefarious characters in cinema. And those that take us to an earlier adventure of a hero can lack concern for whether or not the protagonist will survive -- obviously he or she has. The latter is more the case with The Hobbit. By nature, though, at least the new films are based on a pre-existing novel, and really it doesn't involve the same hero as the Lord of the Rings books and films do. It's almost like a backwards spin-off. Even more so was Prometheus.
Whether dealing with major or minor characters, plenty of movies could have prequels that don't diminish the original stories. The Paranormal Activity series achieved its reverse narrative trajectory quite well, and so far the X-Men franchise has unleashed one awful and one decent precursing origin story. The key there may be similar to the rear-spin-off idea in how they back up and nearly reboot the series in order to move forward on a whole new path. Prometheus is a better example of this, too.
Last night, fellow Movies.com writer Daniel Walber and I were discussing the idea, and he acknowledged an interest in seeing Walter Sobchak's marriage to Cynthia, which would take place before and could perhaps even carry into the events of The Big Lebowski. That's precisely the sort of thing I'd love to see. Like what Quentin Tarantino's The Vega Brothers was going to be before the actors got too old. Speaking of Tarantino, it'd be neat to see more of Christoph Waltz's Dr. Shultz from Django Unchained, basically how he went from being a dentist to becoming a bounty hunter.
In a Criticwire Survey from earlier this year, I proposed a dramatic prequel to the documentary Brother's Keeper. Other journalists proposed a Hawkeye/Black Widow origin story pre-The Avengers and origin stories tied to The Professional, Inception, Le Samourai and even The Big Lebowski, but for the Dude. Also last summer, Cracked.com more jokingly offered up ideas for prequels "too awesome to exist," such as those for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (The Siege of Loompaland), Titanic (One Hundred French Girls), To Kill a Mockingbird (One Shot: The Ballad of Atticus Finch), Back to the Future (Brown) and even The Big Lebowski (Walter Goes to 'Nam).
Humorous ideas notwithstanding, part of the fun of coming up with prequel ideas is part of the reason none of them are really necessary. Our imagination takes what little backstory we get from the original film and fills things in, and an actual realization of our idea or any other is typically either redundant or disappointing.
What movie or film series would you like to see get a prequel?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
Join the next discussion on Twitter by following Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) and Movies.com (@Moviesdotcom).