It’s not very often a movie character’s name is strong enough to carry the film’s marketing and reputation. Every once in a while, we’ll get a movie after people whose names are legend, such as Rocky Balboa, Hitchcock, or Elizabeth. There are even some character names that are just too good to pass up, which is why we get films titled John Wick or Donnie Darko. However, marketing departments can get lazy with their sequel titles, opting to go with the famous character’s name instead of continuing the string of ear-catching and unique titles; such is the case with the Hannibal series, the Friday the 13th series, and now, the Bourne series.
In response to Jason Bourne dropping the usual noun attached to his title, let’s take a look at films/film series that will actually benefit from changing their title to the name of their protagonist.
Caesar (Rise/Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)
I’m all for celebrating a film that has apes riding horses while firing machine guns, but at least give me a title that can be easily communicated. Not only are both titles too long, with a one too many use of the words “of the,” but it’s also weirdly ordered. The “dawn” should be before the “rise.” Plus, those are generic title words anyways. In this case, the name of the series’ main character, Caesar, would be more appropriate. It’s more concise and since the series is about Caesar becoming a leader and the apes rise to power, there couldn’t be a more powerful or historically appropriate name.
Snake Plissken (Escape from New York)
As I mentioned, there are some character names that are just too good not to be used as movie titles. Snake Plissken is one of those characters. Other than the name itself being ridiculously badass, it fits the character and his attitude pretty well. Snake is an ex-Special Forces soldier sent to retrieve the President of the United States from a crime-ridden, dystopian New York City. And he also has an eye patch. This character deserves to be recognized as iconic.
Dirk Diggler (Boogie Nights)
Not that Boogie Nights isn’t an already excellent name for Paul Thomas Anderson’s ’70s/’80s film. “Dirk Diggler,” being Eddie Adams’ porn star name, has a nice and memorable ring to it. Just imagine the last shot of the film cutting to the title credit. No one will ever forget the name Dirk Diggler.
Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr (The Man with Two Brains)
“It’s spelled exactly like it sounds. H-F-U-H-R-U-H-U-R-R.” There’s no reason not to love Steve Martin. His zany films are always so entertaining and fulfilling to watch. While The Man with Two Brains isn’t one of his most popular films, it probably would’ve been better remembered had it taken up the name of his character, Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr. It encapsulates his comedy really well – respectable although unconventional.
Imperator Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Mad Max: Fury Road had a lot of great character names: Max Rockatansky, Toast the Knowing, Coma Doof Warrior, Rictus Erectus. However, if anything, Imperator Furiosa deserves the titular name, because Charlize Theron and her character were the strongest driving force of the film. Nothing against Tom Hardy, who was spectacular, but it was exciting watching Max literally take the passenger seat as a new action hero icon was born. The film built up their partnership exceptionally, so at the very least, I would’ve settled for “Mad Max: Furiosa.”
Jesus Christ (Jesus Christ films)
I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been a well-recognized film titled “Jesus Christ.” Filmmakers have gone through mostly everything from From Manger to Cross to The Greatest Story Ever Told, from The Passion of Christ to Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s really amusing. Why wouldn’t you use “Jesus Christ” as your title? It’s clean and simple. The name holds a lot of power and is definitely recognizable. Imagine the press you get every time someone says “Jesus Christ, now that was a good movie.” Jesus Christ may be the biggest missed opportunity in protagonist film title history.
Featured Image: Universal Pictures