The 2000s gave us many great films. Adaptations such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Spider-Man trilogy, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and many others became cultural phenomena. But the decade didn’t just have sequels and reboots to offer. Many original characters were created and people still remember them today. Here are our favorites.
1. Jack Sparrow
It’s rare to get a worldwide franchise as successful as Pirates of the Caribbean. With over $4 billion in box office revenue and six installments, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Disney pirate fantasy saga is one of the most successful post-2000 franchises. As soon as a new installment enters the multiplex, one character gets slapped on the marketing, and it’s Johnny Depp’s drunk, witty, and independent Jack Sparrow. Did you know Jim Carrey almost got the role?
Four movies, a spin-off, and a lot of odd memes came out of the friendly Mike Myers voiced Ogre. As a clever satire on fairy tales which both young and old enjoyed, the Shrek franchise grossed over $3 billion and created a Dreamworks character you still remember.
Who knew an R-rated mockumentary by a British television comedian about a Kazakh journalist traveling around the United States could make over $250 million worldwide? Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat proved that modern comedies can be full of improv and political as well as cultural satire while making audiences around the world laugh. Unfortunately, Cohen’s scripted adventures weren’t as successful at the box office. Just this year, however, he proved with his Showtime hitWho is America? that he can still dupe people into doing pretty funny things and show their true nature.
4. The Incredibles Family
Not all superheroes come from decades-old comic books. Some of them come out of clever Pixar films. Audiences and critics loved 2004’s The Incredibles. The film wound up with two Oscars and a sequel that grossed over $1 billion and became the highest grossing animated film in the United States. There’s something about that superhero family which other live-action films weren’t able to recreate. That true family dynamic combined with original characters made for a modern classic.
Another Dreamworks character that made for multiple successful installments is the panda Po (voiced by Jack Black) who overcame the odds and turned into a kung fu master. The Kung Fu Panda franchise delves into Eastern culture while addressing some of life’s biggest questions. Po himself is an overweight and charismatic panda who made for plenty of rip-offs and great stories.
6. Walt Kowalski
Clint Eastwood has played many iconic roles, such as Harry Callahan or The Man with No Name. In 2008, Gran Torino brought us Walk Kowalski, an old bigot and Korean War vet who befriends a Hmong-American boy he tries to protect from a gang. Not only was Gran Torino an emotional and riveting film experience but it also allowed Clint Eastwood to shine in one of his most emotional roles: that of an old man making choices to protect those he learned to love.
If, after a worldwide disaster, the human population fled the Earth and you were left to clean it up, what would you do? WALL-E had precisely that task in the 2008 Pixar film of the same name. What’s unique about the robot character is that he doesn’t speak yet manages to communicate and makes the audience feel his emotions. The film was well-received, won numerous awards, and was one of many great films 2008 had to offer.
A father who has lost his son and is desperately trying to find him sounds like a terrifying premise, but it works very well though when that search becomes an underwater adventure with a relatable goldfish. Nemo and his father, as well as other underwater characters such as Dory, made for two epic Pixar adventures, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory.
Vampires and zombies don’t always have to be based on comic books and novels. In 2003, Underworld kicked off a franchise starring Kate Beckinsale as the kick-ass killing machine Selene. Although critics seemed to hate every one of the five installments, plenty of people became fans of series and the ruthless Selene.
Who says superheroes have to come from comic books? Based off an original script, 2008’s Hancock starred Will Smith as superhero grown tired of saving people. Thanks to his and Charlize Theron’s excellent performances, Hancock made for an emotional, refreshing, and action-packed story.
11. The Bride
Quentin Tarantino, being the filmmaker he is, is responsible for many iconic movies and characters. One of them is Uma Thurman’s The Bride in Kill Bill Volume 1 and 2. Hungry for revenge, she made her way past some tough challenges in some truly visually stunning action sequences.