Indiana Jones ... Ferris Bueller ... James T. Kirk ... Harry Potter ... Freddy Krueger ... Sam Witwicky? This summer has certainly seen it's fair share of iconic characters returning to the big screen, most notably in Star Trek and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And next year we'll see new incarnations of Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street and the titular Alice in Wonderland. More often, though, it seems that memorable characters have been crowded off the stage in favor of interchangeable "types" rotating through a stock collection of cliches. The robots were better defined in Terminator: Salvation and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen than the people. Where have all the great characters created expressly for the screen gone?
True, most of the great movie characters of the past sprang either from real life or the fertile imagination of novelists. Yet Charles Foster Kane, J.J. Gittes, Travis Bickle, Rocky Balboa, Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, and Ferris Bueller were all original characters, even if they were influenced by various literary works. We still see larger-than-life characters that emerge fully-formed from the pages of a novel, like Harry Potter. And independent films are filled with indelible portraits of an incredible range of realistic characters. Why, then, have so few distinctive original characters entered into our popular consciousness from Hollywood studio productions in recent years?
Are Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Bruno the best we can hope for? Why can't we remember any other character's name from this year's crop of popular titles? Are event movies driving memorable characters from the screen in favor of CGI and action sequences? Are great original characters -- not based on a pre-existing property -- gone for good?