An origin story serves as the backbone of any iconic character, offering a glimpse into their past, their motivations, and the circumstances that forged their identity. As we delve into the roots of celebrated characters, we not only understand their journey but also appreciate the complexities that make them uniquely compelling.
What is an Origin Story of a Character?
First, let’s define origin story
Before looking at the function and importance of the origin story, let's first delve into defining what an origin story truly is.
ORIGIN STORY DEFINITION
What is an origin story?
An origin story is a narrative construct detailing the genesis of a character or organization. It encompasses the critical events, influences, and circumstances that shape the character's traits, beliefs, values, and motivations.
Often serving as a catalyst for their future actions or decisions, the origin story is pivotal in creating the depth of a character and establishing their identity within a narrative context. Origin stories lay the groundwork for character development, offering insights into why characters act as they do and illuminating the path they may follow.
What is an origin story used for?
- Reveals character's past
- Influences personality, values
- Adds depth, and complexity to persona.
- Explains motivations, forecasts path
What is an Origin Story Used For?
Importance of the Origin Story
Origin stories have a crucial role in character development. These stories not only introduce the character to the audience, but they also serve as the foundation for the character's journey and growth throughout the narrative. Below, we explore in depth why origin stories are so important.
Reveals the Character's Past
By unveiling a character's past, origin stories provide the audience with a comprehensive understanding of a character's journey. For example, in the movie Iron Man, Tony Stark's origin story showcases how his experience as a captive in Afghanistan shapes him into the superhero he becomes. This backstory helps us connect with the character on a more profound level.
Shapes Personality and Values
Origin stories often contain key moments or influences that shape a character's personality and values. In the film There Will Be Blood, Daniel Plainview's origin story reveals how his ruthless pursuit of wealth and power is influenced by his early experiences as a silver prospector. This exploration of his past enhances our understanding and sympathy for him.
Acts as a Catalyst for Future Actions
Origin stories often contain a pivotal moment that sets the character on their path. Spider-Man contains one of the most iconic origin stories in pop culture. Peter Parker develops superpowers after getting bitten by a radioactive spider. Read the scene in David Koepp’s script, which we imported into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software:
But this is only half of Spider-Man’s origin story. Equally important is the death of Peter’s uncle which becomes the catalyst for his decision to use his powers for good. This instance explains why the character makes certain decisions and behaves in certain ways, giving the audience a deeper understanding of their motivations.
For more on Koepp’s Spider-Man, check out our screenplay breakdown.
Adds Depth and Complexity to the Persona
Origin stories add a layer of depth and complexity to characters. In the indie film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the origin story of Joel Barish and Clementine Kruczynski unfolds through their erased memories. This exploration of their past experiences transforms them into fully-fledged personas with a history, experiences, and motivations.
Foundation for Character Development
Origin stories lay the groundwork for character development. In the superhero movie Black Panther, T'Challa's origin story as the rightful heir to the throne of Wakanda sets the stage for his evolution throughout the narrative. It provides a starting point from which the character can grow and change.
Explains Motivations, Forecasts Path
Finally, origin stories help us understand a character's motivations and potentially forecast their future path. In the movie Joker, Arthur Fleck's villain origin story delves into his troubled past, explaining the motivations behind his transformation into the iconic supervillain. By knowing where a character comes from, we can often predict where they are going and understand why they choose a particular path.
Now that we have explored the importance and impact of origin stories on character development, let's delve into some iconic examples that have left a lasting impact on audiences worldwide.
What is an Origin Story in Media?
Impact of Origin Stories on Pop Culture
Origin stories have shaped the landscape of pop culture, leaving an indelible mark on mediums like movies, books, comics, and TV shows. They have elevated characters from mere figments of imagination to cultural icons, celebrated and cherished by audiences worldwide. Let's delve deeper into the pervasive influence of origin stories on popular culture.
Influence on Movies, Books, Comics, and TV Shows
From Marvel's cinematic universe to Batman's evolution in the DC Comics, origin stories have been paramount in the success of movies, books, comics, and TV shows. They offer audiences the necessary context to understand complex characters, magnifying their appeal. In literature, characters like Jay Gatsby in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby or Severus Snape in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series have captivated readers with their intriguing pasts.
In television, shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men employ origin stories to craft multi-dimensional characters that continue to resonate with viewers.
The Rise of Prequels and Spin-offs Focused on Character Backgrounds
The demand for more comprehensive character exploration has led to the rise of prequels and spin-offs, providing audiences with an in-depth look into the backgrounds of their favorite characters. These works often focus on the formative years or events of the characters, adding layers to their personalities.
For instance, Better Call Saul is a successful prequel to Breaking Bad, focusing on the life of Jimmy McGill before he became the lawyer Saul Goodman. Similarly, spin-offs like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delve into the backstory of the broader universe, satisfying fans' curiosity about their favorite fictional worlds. This trend underscores the power of origin stories, emphasizing their role in enhancing the richness of narratives.
Origin stories are a powerful narrative device that illuminates characters' pasts and lay the foundation for their development. They reveal influences, shape future actions, and deepen character complexity.
Additionally, origin stories greatly impact pop culture, influencing the success of movies, books, comics, and TV shows, often leading to prequels and spin-offs. They transform characters into cultural icons, enrich narratives, and demonstrate their enduring relevance and storytelling significance.
What is a Hero?
As we've dissected the importance and impact of origin stories on character development and pop culture, understanding the essence of a 'hero' becomes even more crucial. Let's now delve into the next article to further unravel the complexities and nuances of our favorite characters.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is the best story in the trilogy. There are those who will disagree with me, but there’s no denying that Fellowship does a tremendous job of establishing the characters and world of Middle-Earth – while also balancing fantastical whimsy with dramatic action. Fellowship is adapted screenwriting done right – and we’re going to show you why it works. Fly you fools! Download a copy of the Lord of the Rings script below and follow along as we break down its plot.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring PDF Download
Click to view and download the entire The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring script PDF below.
WHO WROTE THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING SCRIPT?
Written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson
Based on the novel by J. R. R. Tolkien.
Fran Walsh is a New Zealand screenwriter, producer, and musical lyricist who’s perhaps best known for her work on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Walsh won three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Song for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Philippa Boyens is an Academy Award winning New Zealand screenwriter and producer – and frequent collaborator of Walsh and Jackson. Boyens also served as the Director of the New Zealand Writers Guild.
Peter Jackson is a New Zealand director, producer, and screenwriter. Jackson, a three-time Academy Award nominee and six-time nominee, is one of the most celebrated filmmakers of his generation.
STRUCTURE OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING SCREENPLAY
Here is the story structure for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring screenplay:
Galadriel narrates the story of “the One True Ring of Power.” The One Ring was created by the dark lord Sauron ~3000 years before the events of the story to rival the 19 rings of power that were made to empower the elvish, dwarven, and human alliance. The One Ring went from Sauron (who was ‘killed’ at The Battle of Dagorlad), to Isildur (who was killed shortly after), t0 “the creature” Gollum, to the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.
Bilbo Baggins begins writing the story of his exploits with the One Ring – titled “There and Back Again” – ahead of his 111th birthday party. Later that night, he celebrates with the wizard Gandalf, his nephew Frodo, and all the other hobbits in Hobbiton.
Bilbo relinquishes the One Ring to Frodo and leaves Hobbiton. A short time later, Gandalf returns and tells Frodo that dark forces are on their way and that he must leave the Shire with the One Ring. Frodo, along with his best friend Samwise Gamgee, depart for the open road.
Plot Point One
Gandalf confronts the wizard Saruman with news of Sauron’s resurgence. Saruman reveals that he’s succumbed to Sauron’s influence and then detains Gandalf.
Plot Point One
En route to the town of Bree (where Gandalf instructed them to go), Frodo and Sam join up with two other hobbits: Merry and Pippin. But when they arrive, they learn Gandalf hasn’t been seen for a long time – in his stead, a mysterious ranger named Strider protects the hobbits from the Ringwraiths (former Human Kings enslaved by Sauron) who are in pursuit of the One Ring.
The Ringwraiths catch up with the hobbits and Strider – and one stabs Frodo with a Morgul blade. Strider tells Frodo he can only be healed by the Elves in Rivendell.
Frodo is healed by the half-elf Elrond in Rivendell, where he meets Gandalf (who escaped from Saruman’s clutches by way of a perfectly timed jump onto a Golden Eagle).
Midpoint Part II
Elrond summons Frodo, Gandalf, Strider (who’s revealed to be the one true heir to Gondor, Aragorn), the elf Legolas, the Dwarf Gimli, and the human Boromir to tell them they must bring the One Ring to Mount Doom in Mordor. Sam, Merry, and Pippen also agree to join and thus, the fellowship of the ring is born.
Plot Point Two
The Fellowship sets out on an arduous journey to Mordor. Saruman uses magic to impede them, which causes Frodo to decide they must venture into the Mines of Moria. In the Mines, the fellowship discovers that the dwarves were eradicated by goblins – and then are forced to confront and destroy a cave troll.
A fire beast – a Balrog – awakens in the Mines of Moria. Gandalf battles it so the rest of the fellowship can escape. The fellowship rests in an Elvish settlement where the lady of the Elves, Galadriel (who narrated the prologue), shows Frodo what will become of Middle-Earth if he doesn’t destroy the One Ring.
Boromir, stricken by an obsession with the One Ring, attempts to steal it from Frodo. Frodo puts the ring on to escape which alerts nearby orcs. Aragorn swears to protect Frodo and reject the allure of the One Ring.
Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and an unencumbered Boromir protect the hobbits from the orcs. Frodo and Sam venture towards Mordor on a boat; Merry and Pippin escape on foot.
Frodo and Sam resolve to bring the One Ring to Mordor on their own. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas agree to let them go – but to find/rescue Merry and Pippin.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Script Takeaway #1
The Fellowship of the Ring quotes are memorable
There are a lot of great quotes in The Lord of the Rings movies, but The Fellowship of the Ring probably has the lion’s share of them. We imported The Fellowship of the Ring script into StudioBinder’s screenwriting software to take a look at a few Lord of the Rings quotes that have become famous over the years.
In this scene, Gandalf steps up and confronts the balrog so the rest of the fellowship can escape. As you’re reading, think about how Gandalf is uniquely characterized by what he says.
Notice anything unique about Gandalf’s choice of verbiage? Well, he doesn’t say “go!” or “go on without me.” No, that would sound familiar – and remarkably un-Gandalf-like. Instead, Gandalf says “fly” and fly, you fools!” Because of this, his dialogue has become subject to parody. But there’s no denying Gandalf is the relayer of some all-time great Lord of the Rings quotes.
Want to see the awesome Balrog scene in action? Check out the clip from the movie below.
Here are some other great Fellowship of the Ring quotes:
“You shall not pass!” – Gandalf
“When in doubt, follow your nose.” – Gandalf
“A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early; he arrives precisely when he means to.” – Gandalf
“I thought up an ending for my book: ‘and he lived happily ever after, unto the end of his days.’” – Bilbo
“You shall be the fellowship of the ring.” – Elrond
“One does not simply walk into Mordor.” – Boromir
“What about second breakfast?” – Pippin
“I will take the ring to Mordor, though I do not know the way.” – Frodo
“I made a promise, Mr Frodo. A promise. "Don't you leave him Samwise Gamgee." And I don't mean to. I don't mean to.” – Sam
“If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. You have my sword.” – Aragorn
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Script Takeaway #2
The Fellowship of the Ring characters are key
Characters are key in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – perhaps even more than they are in any other film in the trilogy. Why? It’s right in the name! The Fellowship of the Ring is all about the fellowship: Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Boromir, Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf, and Aragorn; and each character is given their own time in the spotlight.
You can find moments of nuance in just about every character in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Here are some nuanced moments for each of the Fellowship of the Ring characters:
Frodo: when he declares himself the bearer of the One Ring.
Sam: when he follows Frodo’s boat even though he can’t swim.
Merry and Pippin: when they lure the orcs away from Frodo so he can escape.
Boromir: when he realizes the folly of his ways/mankind and pledges to protect the hobbits.
Gimli: when he puts aside his bias towards the elves.
Legolas: when he recognizes Durin’s Bane as a balrog; essentially displaying his intellect.
Gandalf: when he confronts the balrog so the other characters can escape.
Aragorn: when he refuses to take the ring from Frodo.
All of these small moments of characterization come to a head in the Council of Elrond scene. Let’s review the scene and analyze how it creates such a satisfying moment.
In this scene, we root for the characters to come together. Writers Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson already laid the groundwork for making us care about the characters long before this moment. As such, this scene strictly serves to execute on that developmental tension.
Let’s see how the scene came together in the final cut of the film – spoiler: it’s even better with all the great performances and Howard Shore’s musical score.
Jackson really captures character conflict in the film version of this scene. My favorite moment is when Frodo announces he’ll take the ring to Mt. Doom, Jackson frames an extreme close-up on Gandalf, then pans back to Frodo. This serves to highlight how sad Gandalf feels about the fact that someone he cares about must bear the burden of carrying the One Ring.
There’s no doubt about it: this scene is a masterclass example of screenwriting and filmmaking.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Script Takeaway #3
The Fellowship of the Ring ending sets up the sequels
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is right up there with Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark as the best “first movies” in any film franchise. First movies in film franchises carry an enormous burden because they have to do three things:
Establish a world
Set-up a definitive story arc
Make us care about the characters
These things may sound simple, but they’re incredibly hard to execute. With that said, The Fellowship of the Ring executes these three points to perfection.
Walsh, Boyens, and Jackson expertly established the world of Middle-Earth as a cinematic setting, but author J.R.R. Tolkien should be given the majority of the credit as its inventor. In fact, Tolkien should be given credit for a lot of The Fellowship of the Ring script’s success, because without him, the story would’ve never existed.
There are various machinations at play in every scene in The Lord of the Rings – but one of the most important is the relationship between Sam and Frodo. Sam and Frodo epitomize what a relationship between a protagonist and a supporting character should look like. You could argue Aragorn is the protagonist of The Lord of the Rings, but I’d say he’s only the protagonist of Return of the King.
Let’s look at the final scene of The Fellowship of the Ring to see why Frodo and Sam’s relationship is so emotionally endearing. As you’re reading, think about how the story would have been different if Frodo was left to carry the burden of the One Ring alone.
What does this scene teach us? I’d say one thing; and that one thing is: Samwise Gamgee is that guy. Everybody needs a friend like Samwise Gamgee. Samwise Gamgee is not going to let his friend bear the burden of suffering alone – and that’s why we love him.
This moment perfectly encapsulates the notion of knowing how to make the audience care about characters. If you don’t care about Sam – after everything he’s given up to help his friend – you simply have no heart.
Want to see the scene in action? Check it out below.
Resolve is one of the greatest characteristics you can give any character. Frodo and Sam are united by heroic resolve, which causes us to root for them.
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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is as good as screenwriting gets. If you want to continue reading screenplays, we have similar titles like Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone, Game of Thrones, and Avengers in our screenplay database. Browse and download PDFs for all of our scripts as you read, write and practice your craft to become the next great screenwriter.