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The Wolverine & Spin-Offs: The Good, The Bad, and the Ewok Adventure

by Kevin Marshall   July 31, 2013 at 12:00AM  |  Views: 1,356
Source: 20th Century Fox

The Wolverine slashed and clawed his way to the top of the box office this weekend, and given the audience and critical response, there's a chance that it could regenerate and become number one again this weekend.

Because Wolverine has a healing factor, you see, and…nevermind.

The success of the film is a relief to people who were burned by the disappointing "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" movie, which suffered from a weak plot and too many characters. It also means we can keep Hugh Jackman in the role and continue the franchise in its current form, which began with Fox's "X-Men" trilogy of the early 2000s.

Is it the greatest spin-off of all time? The case could be made, but it has some heavy competition, including…


THE JEFFERSONS
Fish don't fry in the kitchen, beans don't burn on the grill, and spin-offs don't normally match the popularity of their source. Yet George Jefferson, played by Sherman Helmsley, became every bit the cultural icon as his counterpart in "All in the Family," Archie Bunker. It's also worth noting that "The Jeffersons" actually had a longer run than "All in the Family" (by two seasons).



Source: 20th Century Fox


MACHETE
One of the more creative spin-offs on this list, "Machete," starring veteran character actor Danny Trejo, was a spin-off of the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez collaboration "Grindhouse." Machete didn't appear as a character in either of the two stories comprising the film, but was actually a fake trailer shown at the beginning of the film that contributed to the motif of recreating the experience of seeing 1970s grindhouse cinema. A sequel, "Machete Kills," is due out later this year.


MORK & MINDY
Mork from Ork was a breakout role for the then unknown comedian Robin Williams, and it all started with a guest appearance on "Happy Days." Originally, Mork was an alien who came to 1950s Earth for a human specimen and decided Richie Cunningham was the perfect candidate. Author's side note: let's take some time to ruminate on the fact that 1970s Ron Howard would have been an alien species' penultimate example of humanity. Thankfully he's thwarted by The Fonz, who first battles Ork with the power of his thumb and then volunteers to take Richie's place. Richie wakes up and realizes it was all a dream. Ork later appears in his own series, set in (at the time) modern day Earth, and rooms with an alien human. There isn't really much of an explanation for how Mork traversed time, space, and reality, but we're talking about a sitcom starring an alien version of Robin Williams spun off from a show where a guy was so cool he had magic powers that allowed him to control jukeboxes.


Source: Universal Pictures


THE SCORPION KING
Arguably the film that made The Rock a mainstream superstar, this was a spin-off of the title character's brief cameo in "The Mummy Returns." Owing to the original "Mummy" movies, "Scorpion King" didn't break any new ground but was a lot of goofy fun. A half-hearted attempt to create a straight-to-DVD franchise resulted in two sequels that replaced the star of the title role. It went about as well as you'd expect.

CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK
Is it a sequel to "Pitch Black" or a prequel? The easy answer is that it's really a spin-off, even though Vin Diesel's Riddick character was central to the original and the breakout star of the film. A third film will complete the trilogy this Fall, nine years after "Chronicles" made Riddick the focal point.


Source: BBC Worldwide


TORCHWOOD
The only item on our list that is not only a spin-off of its progenitor, but also an anagram for it. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) first appeared as an ally of the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant), but became so popular that producers were forced to give him his own show or risk Tumblr users coming together en masse to overthrew world governments and burn everything in sight. The show ran for three series in the UK, and a fourth was co-produced by the BBC and the American television network Starz.


THE HILLS
They have eyes, but they are empty. Spinning off "Laguna Beach," "The Hills" were the further non-adventures of Lauren Conrad and various individuals who may or may not have been her friends, but at the very least occasionally ate and chewed food and stared blankly across the table at each other. Riveting stuff. Despite my sarcasm, I still watched quite a bit of it.


ANGEL
It'd be tough to do a list of spin-offs without at least acknowledging this spin-off of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," starring the titular character and former love interest of Buffy Summers. The show only ran five series, but was still posting decent ratings when the WB prematurely pulled the plug on it.


Source: ABC


CARAVAN OF COURAGE: AN EWOK ADVENTURE / EWOKS: THE BATTLE FOR ENDOR
What's most distressing about the dated presence of the Ewoks in "Return of the Jedi" is that the role the Ewoks and their home of Endor played in the film was originally supposed to be Kashykk, Chewbacca's home planet. On the other hand, we saw what happened with Chewbacca's family in the "Star Wars Holiday Special," so it actually might have been for the best. Contrary to the titles of the two spin-off made-for-television films, there was very little adventure to be found and the "battle" for Endor was nowhere near as cool as an actual battle, even if it did feature the guru of grump himself, Wilford Brimley.


THE COLBERT REPORT
Last but certainly not least, Stephen Colbert has taken political and social satire to a whole new level with "The Colbert Report" on our sister channel "Comedy Central." One could very strongly make the argument that it's the most successful spin-off ever, since it's not only still on the air but airs every single night and is a daily requisite for many (including myself). I mean, I don't have to watch "The Battle for Endor" every night before I got to bed, but I do have to make sure to catch "The Report."


We only had room for ten, but we can make room for more in the comments below. Connect through your favorite social media service and have at it, kids.


In the meantime, check out our latest episode of All Access Weekly with Elijah Wood and much, much more!

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