Hey, Hollywood, we get that it's hard to come up with new ideas. Especially when you've gotten really good at improving on the original. But it's one thing to purposefully remake a dud into a classic -- it's another to pretend you're the one who came up with the idea in the first place. How would you like it if we said we invented anorexia and scientifically impossible explosions, huh Hollywood?
These movies are like that.
There's nothing wrong with an honest, loving rip-off. Like Cracked's Star Wars Adventures in Jedi School mini-series.
7Pirates of the Caribbean Is Suspiciously Similar to the Game The Secret of Monkey Island
This seems like a really obvious one: Everyone knows the Pirates of the Caribbean movies are a combination of the Disney ride and Johnny Depp channeling the ghost of a pre-dead Keith Richards.
Which fled from his body sometime in the mid '70s, leaving it an empty husk of decaying meat.
Except the Disney attraction has as much of a story line as a bad night at a gay bar -- basically you're going around in a boat while drunk robot pirates dance and sing around you. It's more of an acid trip than a narrative. So where did they get the rest of the story?
What It's Suspiciously Like:
The video game The Secret of Monkey Island came out in 1990 and follows the adventures of Guybrush Threepwood, a bumbling swashbuckler who must gather a crew of pirates to rescue the woman he loves while dealing with a mysterious supernatural curse. Sound familiar? That's also the plot of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, except Threepwood is called William Turner there. Both characters even dress alike.
To be fair, vests were very popular in pirate times.
Well ... but all pirate stories probably have some things in common, right? Don't worry, we're just getting started.
In Pirates, the love interest is Elizabeth Swann, the governor's daughter. In Monkey Island, her name is Elaine Marley, and she isn't really related to the governor -- she is the governor.
Disney will only accept a woman in a position of power if she's an evil witch queen.
In Pirates, Elizabeth is captured by an undead pirate and his skeleton crew. In Monkey Island, it's ... the exact same thing, except the bad guy goes by the objectively more awesome name of Ghost Pirate LeChuck.
If he didn't tell us we'd never guess he was a ghost and a pirate.
Both stories involve zombies, cannibals, pet monkeys and the oddly specific character of a black voodoo priestess who lives in a shack in the middle of a swamp. The main difference here is that she's younger and hotter in the Disney version, but that seems like the sort of thing Hollywood would change even in an official adaptation.
And the visual similarities don't stop there -- notice Guybrush using a coffin as a boat in that picture? At one point in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Jack Sparrow does the same thing (the linked image is from the film's game adaptation, which frankly seems redundant). Then there's the pirate town made out of wrecked ship parts from the same movie and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge (1991).
So is this a huge coincidence, an homage, or just thievery? Well, Monkey Island's creator Ron Gilbert has admitted that he was inspired by the original Disney ride, and also the 1987 novel On Stranger Tides (which was loosely adapted into the fourth Pirates film), but that doesn't even begin to explain all the similarities -- there's no clumsy protagonist, kidnapped governor-related love interest or coffin-boat in the book or the attraction. The only important common element that could be attributed to the novel is the voodoo/zombie aspect -- however, Pirates producer Jerry Bruckheimer says the screenwriters only "found the book" while filming the second and third movies.
Here's another explanation: There was actually a canceled Monkey Island film project around 2000, and Wikipedia credits Ted Elliot for the screenplay. Guess what major Johnny Depp movie Ted Elliot went on to write a few years later, possibly reusing parts of the script and some concept art?
Hint: It wasn't Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
6The Matrix Was a Comic Book
In 1999, The Matrix came out and blew everyone away with its insane action sequences, revolutionary cinematic techniques and, most of all, a mind-fucking plot that left the head of every viewer filled with intense philosophical questions.
Like if there's no spoon, what is this called?
What It's Suspiciously Like:
The Invisibles, a cult comic book series created by Grant Morrison, is basically about a group of individuals who fight the establishment because the establishment is secretly keeping people dumb and hiding the fact that reality is an illusion. Turns out that the "real world" is ruled by horrifying insect-like demons. One more thing: The Invisibles debuted in 1994.
Like in The Matrix, these "terrorists" are actually one cell of a much larger group, and some of them can even "warp themselves out of reality" by using the real world as a shortcut. The story starts when the Invisibles recruit a young guy who takes on the alias of Jack Frost. Like Keanu in The Matrix, at first he wants nothing to do with the group, but eventually he comes to accept the fact that he's the messiah (yeah, they're a lot less subtle about it here). From that point on, he uses his reality-bending powers to help bring down the beings that secretly rule the world. Also, part of his training involves jumping off a tall building.
Other than that, they're completely different.
At one point, the bald, shades-wearing kung fu leader is captured by the bad guys and tortured by a non-human conscience ... who has taken the shape of a government agent. When he refuses to give them any information, they try to enter his brain, until eventually the rest of the team comes to his rescue. Here are a few panels from that sequence:
The Invisibles, Volume 1 Issue #18, "Entropy in the U.K."
And, oh, hey, remember this scene from the movie?
The Wachowskis have never acknowledged The Invisibles as an influence, even though they had invited the comic's creator Grant Morrison to contribute a story for their website. Morrison -- who actually liked The Matrix -- says he "was told by people on the set that Invisibles books were passed around for visual reference." His reaction to the second and third movies? "They should have kept on stealing from me."