The Star Wars universe is expanding with spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story introducing a whole new cast of heroes. But unlike taking down the Death Star, offshoot films don’t always hit the target
The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown
Movie spin-offs can be a risky business. There’s no guarantee the new film will repeat the original incarnation’s success despite a familiarity with the characters. But with a legion of followers around the world, and a tale of epic proportions to tee up, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has the power of the Force behind it.
The film is set before the original iconic trilogy and tells the story of a daring Rebellion bid to steal the plans for the Empire’s monstrous weapon, the Death Star. With a cast that includes Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, and Forest Whitaker, sci-fi fans should strap in for a rollercoaster ride travelling at hyper speed through a galaxy far, far away.
Film spin-offs down the years have been hit and miss. Some have been box-office smashes, even earning awards. Some just don’t resonate with cinema audiences. And some you might not have known were spin-offs in the first place.
Here are a few of the good, the bad, and the unknown of movie breakaways.
The Rocky franchise is one of the most beloved in sports film history. The 1976 original won Academy Awards and made Sylvester Stallone a star. It spawned five sequels before Stallone stepped back into the gym for 2015’s spin-off Creed as a mentor to Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis, the troubled son of Rocky Balboa’s friend Apollo Creed. The movie proved a box-office knockout and was released to critical acclaim. Almost four decades after the original, Stallone was again nominated for an Oscar playing the much-loved Balboa, this time for Best Supporting Actor. The veteran star won a Golden Globe for the role and despite his reluctance to make Creed in the first place, he has since hinted that a whole new series of films could be in the pipeline featuring the new young character, with a possible sequel reportedly coming in 2017.
Ryan Reynolds first played the character Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (more on that shortly) but he got his own movie in the 2016 blockbuster Deadpool. The wisecracking mercenary who gained his healing powers from an experiment designed to cure his cancer proved a filmgoer favourite. The mix of action, humour, and Reynolds directly addressing the audience saw Deadpool become the highest-grossing ‘R-Rated’ movie worldwide. The actor himself said his portrayal was truer to the comic book character than his first appearance with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, perhaps another reason audiences didn’t warm to that film.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Jackman reprised his role as Logan for the first spin-off from the X-Men film series. It told the story of Wolverine’s early life and featured Liev Schreiber as Jackman’s half-brother Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth. The action adventure of revenge and sibling strife failed to hit the mark with fans of the character and the film was met with poor reviews. Even the actor himself admitted the final version didn’t meet his expectations. But far from signalling the end of the blade-fisted badass, another film titled The Wolverine was released in 2013 to positive reviews while a third outing Logan featuring the ageing character hits screens in 2017.
The Bourne Legacy
The fourth instalment in the Bourne series doesn’t feature the title character at all except in passing reference. Instead, The Bourne Legacy follows a different operative, Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner, who is a member of a black ops program called Operation Outcome. This branching-off tale was essentially down to actor Matt Damon choosing not to return to the role. Though cinema ticket sales were high and Renner won praise as the central star, many reviews felt the film was lacking without its main protagonist. That was put right when Damon was back performing action heroics in 2016’s Jason Bourne.
Get Him to The Greek
Russell Brand and Jonah Hill teamed up on screen for the 2010 comedy Get Him to the Greek but perhaps many don’t associate it with being a spin-off of the rom-com Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Brand plays the same character, eccentric British rocker Aldous Snow, in the follow-up as Hill’s talent scout Aaron Green is dispatched to London to escort him to LA for a concert. Jonah Hill also appeared in Forgetting Sarah Marshall but as a different character. The magic of Hollywood allowed belief to be suspended and the funnyman to take a central role in the offshoot movie.
Isador Cortez, better known as Machete, is an invention of director Robert Rodriguez, who wanted to make a kind of Mexican Jean-Claude Van Damme with actor Danny Trejo. Not everyone will be aware but before the killer with a mission for particularly difficult cases got his own films with Machete and Machete Kills, the character was seen in all four parts of the Spy Kids children’s series by Rodriguez. The director also teamed up with Quentin Tarantino for the Grindhouse double feature. A fake trailer segment featured the fictitious movie Machete, and it proved so popular with the audience that Rodriguez actually made it in full.