Remember The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen? That adaptation of Alan Moore's epic love letter to 19th-century literature which decided to add Tom Sawyer (so we could have an American character) and turn Moore's confident, reserved interpretation of Mina Harker into a vampire (because vampires are cool)? The movie which takes place largely on a submarine and made Dr. Jekyll into the Hulk for some reason? Pretty much the same as Lord Of The Rings, right?
Anyway, Connery quit acting shortly after that movie came out, which is the funniest way to end your career. After being James Bond and Indiana Jones' dad, Connery became so mad that two iconic movies didn't feature him that he got revenge by making LXG. Then he yelled, "I don't understand you kids anymore!" and retired to his gigantic money castle, which I am sure resembles an actual set from Lord Of The Rings.
Hey, speaking of Lord Of The Rings ...
George Lucas Couldn't Get the Rights to Lord Of The Rings, So He Made Willow
Full disclosure, guys: This one might be rumors all the way down. But I still think it's convincing.
The idea that Lucas tried to get the rights to LOTR at some point is pretty persistent, and it's easy to see why. The books were immensely popular during Lucas' childhood, the director has admitted that they were a huge influence on Star Wars, and it would make sense that he'd be drawn to another ambitious, FX-driven trilogy. On top of all that, LOTR has a total dearth of female characters, and so does Star Wars, because Lucas has been terrified of women ever since it became clear his editor and ex-wife was the only person who understood Star Wars. So it's a match made in heaven.
On top of that, Willow pretty much is Lord Of The Rings. It's the story of a group of little people from a farm village who encounter a magical thing (a baby in Willow, a ring in Rings), and go on a quest until they meet a charming warrior and a charming warrior lady, battle some monsters, deliver the magical thing to the magical place, and explode the villain. This video goes into some depth about the similarities, and though I wouldn't go so far as to say Lucas ripped off Rings, it's clear he was heavily influenced.
This is a case in which we're probably better off with the version we got. Willow, after all, features a villain named "General Kael," after Pauline Kael, and a dragon called an "Eborsisk," after Siskel and Ebert, because Lucas disliked their reviews of his massively successful and profitable movies. I don't think Rings would've been improved by renaming Sam Gamgee "Steve Spielbergsio," making Gollum a big Star Trek nerd, and changing Sauron's name to "MyExWifeWho HadNothingToDoWithStarWars."
Will Smith Didn't Do The Independence Day Sequel Because Of After Earth
Remember Independence Day: Resurgence? You don't? It came out like two years ago or something. It had Jeff Goldblum, one of the Hemsworth brothers, there's a base on the moon -- OK listen, it happened, you're just gonna have to trust me.
Part of the reason it's not so memorable is the conspicuous absence of Will Smith, who Welcome-To-Earth'd his way into all our hearts way back in 1996. The '90s were when we all realized that we loved seeing Will Smith punch aliens and rap about it, but hated seeing him punch cowboys and cripples and rap about it. We learned a lot about ourselves in the '90s. It was an important time.
Smith originally wanted to return in the sequel, and the story would've been structured around his character and his son. But then After Earth bombed, and Smith decided to drop out because, according to director Roland Emmerich, he was skeptical to do another science fiction movie about a father/son duo.
I love that, OK? Smith thought that After Earth bombed not because it was such a transparent attempt to buy his son an acting career that M. Night Shyamalan was the only director desperate or gullible enough to be involved, but because we just weren't ready for father/son sci-fi epics. And hey, maybe he's right? Suicide Squad was a urinary cake sandwich that still managed to gross $745 million and set all kinds of box office records (it's the biggest opening of Smith's entire career!), because apparently audiences were dying to see Jared Leto in Joker makeup and Cara Delevingne do some funktown shuffles in front of a green screen.
So the running theme in this article is that it's really hard to tell why audiences like some things but hate other things. There's a kind of ineffable magic to why some movies -- or, say, list-based internet articles -- are successful, and it's really tempting to chase that kind of magical success and try to relive times in your past when you've come close but missed it. But the point of learning from mistakes isn't to dwell on them and to try to change the past; it's about learning and making better choices in the future. Because otherwise, you just end up making The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And besides, there's still a chance Pacific Rim: Uprising will be pretty good, even though Charlie Hunnam isn't in it.
JF Sargent is a senior editor and columnist for Cracked and 2007 Hale Hall Super Smash Bros. Champion. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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