I was just noticing Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury‘s Leatherface (LionsGate, 9.21), a prequel to ’74’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the eighth film in the TCM franchise. And I was saying to myself, “You know something? I don’t a flying fuck about Leatherface’s backstory…does anyone?”
I actually don’t give a flying fuck about any character’s backstory…ever. I never cared about little Bruce Wayne seeing his parents murdered or how that trauma affected him as an adult. Tough shit, sonny! I had a pretty tough childhood also — get over it. Seriously — fuck you and your aloof, melancholy Wayne Manor attitude about everything. I’m sitting here in my cushy megaplex seat with a small popcorn and a Diet Coke. Entertain me, ya fuck.
If I never see another origin story, it’ll be too soon. Fuck all origin stories from here to kingdom come. I don’t want to know anything about what any character went through before the movie started. All I want to know about any character in any film is how they’ll respond to the particular thing that’s happening right now. Nothing else matters.
You could make an origin-story movie out of any major character in cinema, and you’d be some kind of destroyer of worlds if you did.
Did we need to know what North by Northwest‘s Roger Thornhill was like as a nine-year-old kid, playing marbles or stickball or falling in love with the girl next door? In Zero Dark Thirty Kathryn Bigelow told us nothing about the early formative years of Jessica Chastain‘s Maya, and that was totally fine with me. I didn’t give a damn about the evil father of Heath Ledger‘s Joker taunting him as a kid. I’ll never want to know about how Alan Ladd‘s Shane came to be an ace-level gunfighter, or how Clark Gable‘s Rhett Butler became a charming rogue. I’ve always hated, hated, hated depictions of young heroes in any context or franchise. Those movies are always awful. The only young anything I’ve ever liked was Young Frankenstein.
The only realm in which backstories are regarded as a big deal is that of (a) superheroes and (b) hit-movie sequels. You really do need to be a bit of a simpleton to be genuinely interested in backstories in the first place. There are NO backstories or character fill-ins of any kind of in Chris Nolan‘s Dunkirk, and it’s utterly wonderful for that.