Origin stories are almost always huge money-makers. Even the god-awful Star Wars prequels still managed to make an obscene amount of money solely because they were about the birth of Darth Vader. So you have to wonder why every pop culture icon hasn't yet been given its own juicy backstory, and the short answer is: It has. It's just that with some movie and TV origins, you have to look all the way in the background or deleted scenes to discover that ...
When The Dark Knight came out in 2008, comic book purists shat enough bricks to build the filthiest replica of the Great Wall of China. Suddenly, all the changes made to the Joker character that they bemoaned -- like the face scars and making him an anarchist bomb expert -- didn't seem to matter in light of everything Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger did with the character.
Their Joker was scary, intimidating, and, true to the comic books, even had a mysterious origin that kept him a fascinating, psychopathic enigma ... provided you ignore all the clues that clearly point to the Joker's military background.
They're very subtle, but they're there.
Throughout the movie, the Joker shows remarkable comfort with military-grade weaponry like grenades, explosives, and machine guns, and after extensive Googling followed by a visit from two very nice federal agents, I can tell you that you can't learn how to use that stuff from the Internet. I'm also pretty sure that you wouldn't be able to blow up whole building complexes or hit a moving vehicle with a rocket launcher from inside a speeding truck without at least some practice. And unless the Joker grew up in the city from the GTA games, the only place he could have practiced that is the military.
That's not even my own stupid opinion. That's actually one of the "official" possible origins for the Joker found in The Dark Knight Manual, a 2012 tie-in book for The Dark Knight Rises.
"You want to know how I got these scars? Only $28.65! Order now!"
Actually, a stint in the military would explain a lot of other things about the character, like the, well, military precision of his tactics, including the time he killed a guy using a precisely timed school bus. Plus, there's this seemingly random piece of dialogue the Joker says in the movie:
"I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all 'part of the plan.'"
Of all the things he could have used as an example, it's interesting that the Joker would bring up soldiers getting blown up, especially as shrapnel wounds would be the perfect explanation for his scars. Add some inevitable PTSD into the mix and suddenly you see Ledger's Clown Prince of Crime for who he really is: an ex-soldier who became disfigured, snapped, and later spent the entire movie killing mayors, district attorneys, and police commissioners, aka people who in his troubled mind were representatives of the government that sent him to war.
The clothing choices of a man who's sick of camo.
It's a true testament to Johnny Depp's acting abilities that he was able to make a pop culture icon out of Captain Jack Sparrow, an obviously stoned jackass from a Disney movie based on a boat ride.
"Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of opiates."
Maybe it's the inability to tell whether Jack is good or evil that ultimately draws audiences to him. After all, he did betray Orlando Bloom to the monstrous Davy Jones one time, but then he risked his life to go back and save his crew/ship at the end of Dead Man's Chest. So, if Jack Sparrow's selling point is his moral ambiguity, then I completely understand why the following exchange was removed from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End:
In this deleted scene, we see Cutler Beckett, president of the East India Trading Company, talking to Sparrow about their shared past. From their short conversation we learn that, many years before the events of the first Pirates film, Jack was working for the EITC until he was trusted with transporting "cargo" that turned out to be a shipment of slaves. So, being Jack Sparrow, he set them free, simply telling Beckett in the deleted scene that "People aren't cargo, mate."
There. Right there. Just as he says that, you can see the exact moment when Jack Sparrow goes from a morally ambiguous asshole to an all-around decent person. When he delivers the line, he doesn't ruin it with any of his trademark silly gestures, instead saying it in a kind of sad, matter-of-fact way, almost as if he had to explain to another person that water is wet.
Even though what he did resulted in being branded a pirate, you don't hear any hesitation in his voice, because for all the shitty things Jack Sparrow might have done, he'd never condemn an innocent person to a lifetime of slavery. It's probably the most character development he's gotten throughout all four Pirates movies, and it made him look so cool that of course they had to cut it, otherwise no man would ever have sex without having to put on a Jack Sparrow mask. And speaking of sex ...
The Lion King has left such a gigantic impact on our childhoods that if you asked 10 random people in their late 20s if they still remember the songs from the movie, eight would say yes, and two would break into "Hakuna Matata." But while we're on the topic of The Lion King songs, did you know that one of them is about rape?
The song in question is called "The Madness of King Scar," and it's all about how hot Scar is for Nala (Simba's childhood friend) and how he'll mate with her whether she likes it or not.
"The Madness of King Scar," which was cut from the movie but kept in the stage adaptation, was supposed to take place after Scar killed his brother and finally became king. It starts off with Scar singing about how nobody likes him before deciding that what he truly needs to be happy is a queen. And luckily, just then Nala enters the scene to bitch Scar out for not controlling the hyenas. The king, who has known the lioness since she was a cub, takes one look at her and goes ...
"Ah, Nala ... Your timing couldn't have been more perfect. My how you've grown."
As Nala continues talking, Scar instead proposes that they skip all this foreplay that Nala wasn't even aware they were having and go create a host of little Scars. Not waiting for a proper answer, Scar then pounces on Nala and gets his fuzzy ass kicked before rolling out one of the creepiest lines in a Disney movie ever:
"Oh, Nala ... you know how I loathe violence ... One way or another, you will be mine."
And that's pretty much your face hearing that, too.
The song was originally meant to explain why Nala left the Pride Lands before eventually encountering the grown-up Simba and trying to convince him to take his rightful place as king. But apparently Disney decided that plot holes were a small price to pay to keep the audience from ever uttering the words, "Wait, did Disney actually make a song about rape?!"