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Unsung Heroes Behind Your Favorite Movie Franchises

A lot of people work on movies—that's why the credits are so long. We never pay attention to them, but maybe we should. Sure, the directors and actors are important, but all of those other names are also responsible for the movie. Sometimes, one of those tiny names deserves more credit than everyone else. So here are the unsung heroes behind your favorite movie franchises...

Larry Kasdan On Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

While we owe George Lucas forever for creating Star Wars, over the years it's become clear that he isn't actually the best writer. While the prequel trilogy was all Lucas, he had a lot of help making the original movies. After the success of Star Wars (at the time, there was no subtitle or episode number), Lucas immediately began work on the sequel. After Lucas went through several drafts that were wildly different from the final product, Larry Kasdan was finally brought in to write the script. Working from Lucas' story, Kasdan decided to take the film in a darker, more adult direction. The result is arguably the best Star Wars movie ever made, which unsurprisingly features nothing resembling Jar Jar Binks. Lucas gets all the credit, but his vision of the saga features a slapstick alien with an over-the-top accent. Kasdan's vision resulted in of the most memorable space epics ever written, so it's pretty clear who we should be worshipping. Fortunately, Kasdan had a major hand in shaping J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens, too...

James Cameron On Deadpool (2016)

It's a little bit shocking that we're getting the Deadpool movie that we're getting. It's had a long, long journey that seemed like it had stalled in development hell. The film went into production after the character appeared in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Fox couldn't decide whether to make it PG-13 or R, which delayed the production. Then, The Avengers came out, and the studio wanted to change focus and make ensemble movies. After so many issues, it's surprising that the movie ever got made. Well, it helps when James Cameron is backing it up. According to the film's writers, Cameron helped get the script in front of bigwigs at Fox. No matter how difficult things get, you never stop making a movie that's been championed by the guy that made Aliens, Terminator 2, Titanic, and Avatar. That's just common sense.

Sam Hamm On Batman (1989)

Three guys get all the credit for Batman: Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, and Jack Nicholson. No one's arguing that they don't deserve the praise, but we shouldn't forget about Sam Hamm. Batman had a long, difficult road to the silver screen. Batman scripts were being bounced around Hollywood since 1970, and they were all over the place. At one point, Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy were supposedly being considered for the parts of Batman and Robin. When Tim Burton was hired, he decided steer the movie away towards a darker, more adult tone. He approached Sam Hamm to write the screenplay, and the writer made some important choices. He removed several unnecessary characters, reduced Dick Grayson's role in the story (he would eventually be completely removed). Hamm's biggest contribution was deciding not to make it an origin story for Batman. A big part of what makes the movie work is that it gets right into the action, with Bruce already being Batman. This allows for more time to be devoted to Jack Nicholson's Joker, which basically makes Sam Hamm a national hero.

Tom Desanto For X-Men (2000)

X-Men was one of the first comic book movies to show the world that these stories could be deeper than "good guys fight bad guys." Director Bryan Singer decided to focus the story on the feelings of discrimination, creating a real life parallel with the daily struggles of real life minorities. This movie helped launch the modern comic book movie era, and it's all thanks to Bryan Singer. And that's is crazy, because he almost didn't direct it. The director had just released The Usual Suspects, and he was a rising star in Hollywood. Fox wanted to work with him, and Singer was interested in doing a science fiction movie. Originally, he was offered Alien Resurrection. It was producer Tom Desanto who recommended that Singer would be a better fit for X-Men, because he recognized the undertone of prejudice in the movie would resonate with the young director. It was a smart call, because X-Men launched a huge franchise and Alien Resurrection launched cinematic fecal matter at its audience.

Lynn Stalmaster On Superman (1978)

The whole marketing campaign for Superman was based on the idea that seeing the movie would make you believe that a man could fly. What's crazy is that the guy playing the flying man was actually one of the last roles to be cast. Both Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman were cast early on, but it was impossible to find an actor with both the proper physique and the acting chops for the Man of Steel. It was casting director Lynn Stalmaster who recommended then-unknown Christopher Reeve for the part, and she was actually turned down. After the studio went through basically every single available actor in Hollywood, Stalmaster finally convinced them to give Reeve a screen test. The movie went on to be huge, and Reeve became a megastar.

Joss Whedon On Batman Begins (2005)

We don't know how lucky we are to have Batman Begins. After Batman Forever and Batman and Robin turned Caped Crusader character into a slapstick cartoon character, Warner Brothers had no idea what to do with the franchise. The only thing the studio knew was that whatever they made had to be the exact opposite from director Joel Schumacher's films. Darren Aronofsky began development of a Batman: Year One movie, but it bore almost no resemblance to the comics or character in any way. Warner Brothers then attempted to make Batman vs Superman, but that fell apart. Joss Whedon eventually pitched a doing a Batman origin movie that actually followed the comics. While his pitch wasn't the exact story of Batman Begins, Whedon's been quoted as saying that it has the same vibe. Since Warner Brothers soon went to Christopher Nolan, it's pretty obvious Whedon's pitch had an effect on the studio. Since the actual story in Begins is kind of stupid (seriously, a weaponized microwave oven?), the vibe is what everyone liked about that movie. So, we owe Joss Whedon for both The Avengers and The Dark Knight. Let's just elect him president.