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Movie Reviews

10 Movies That Tell The Whole Story In Its Opening Credits

Mission: Impossible 7 is one of the most anticipated 2023 movies, and director Christopher McQuarrie just teased one of Tom Cruise’s biggest stunts yet. Mission: Impossible movies almost write themselves at this point, as there’ll be the token death-defying stunts, Simon Pegg being comically cagey, and, of course, the opening credits that give absolutely everything about the movie away.

But the M:I movies aren’t the only ones that feature stylishly revealing intros. Whether they outright tell the movie’s story viewers are about to watch, the years leading up to the movie, or use colors and logos to secretly drop hints about every scene, viewers could turn these films off after the opening credits.

The James Bond series has tons of trademarks, whether it’s the character’s catchphrases, a pop song that mirrors the movie’s themes, or the spy’s signature drink. However, another constant in the franchise is the dazzling opening sequence, which tends to depict key scenes in the films.

Some intros do it more than others, but Skyfall and Spectre specifically had visually stunning openings that showcased most of the major scenes in the movies. They’re almost like teasers about what kind of ride fans are in for over the next two hours, only in the most cryptic and artistic way possible.

Director Edgar Wright has always tried to open movies in the most exciting and bombastic way possible, and that’s no different with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The intro perfectly captures the film’s tone and kinetic energy, as it sees Scott’s band playing the song “We Are Sex Bob-Omb” while the actors’ names flash on the screen with vivid colors and sketches.

However, those sketches and colors aren’t random, and they correspond to the evil exes that actors play and their personality traits. While it’s extremely subtle, Scott Pilgrim’s credits cleverly lay out the movie’s narrative almost like level descriptions.

Godzilla doesn’t outright depict scenes in the movie with silhouettes or anything of that nature, but it instead shows fictional “archive” footage and newspaper cuttings, explaining the relationship between governmental bodies and the monster. It doesn’t tell the movie’s full story that audiences are about to see, but it does tell years of the story up to that point.

As the intro depicts the government trying to understand what the kaiju is and then trying to kill it with nuclear weapons, it’s almost better than the film that follows. The 2014 movie was generally considered disappointing, as it wastes the seemingly brilliant casting of Bryan Cranston and always cuts away from the action. However, the intro still doesn’t beat that incredible HALO jump midway through the film.

Just like the James Bond series, the Mission: Impossible movie openings also depict the main events of the films in a gloriously stylish fashion. With the classic Mission: Impossible theme tune, explosive digital effects, and a whizzing camera, the intros tease all of Tom Cruise’s death-defying stunts and how the story unfolds, and it’s completely unapologetic about it.

However, these kinds of intros in Mission: Impossible have been happening a lot longer than in the film franchise, as the movies’ intros are a homage to the original series that the movies are based on, albeit loosely at this point. It almost makes the movies feel like very long blockbuster TV episodes.

Catch Me If You Can has one of the best movie opening credits of the 2000s, and it’s an art form that’s rarely experimented with outside of the James Bond and Mission: Impossible franchises. As the actors’ names appear on the screen, stick figures are chasing each other through airports, banks, and other locations that can be found in the film.

It depicts Frank Abagnale Jr. as he runs away from home, fakes being a pilot, fakes being a doctor, and finally becoming a lawyer, just as he does in the main body of Catch Me If You Can. It’s a wonderfully retro style with an old-fashioned Jazz beat, and more movies should take inspiration from this kind of movie intro.

Spider-Man 2 interestingly tells the whole story of the first Spider-Man in its credits, and it does so with detailed illustrations of shots from the first movie. Spider-Man 3 does the same thing, but it tells the whole story of both the first and second movies. However, it’s less creative, as they aren’t illustrations, but actual screenshots lifted from the films.

Director Sam Raimi has always made sure audiences are up-to-date with what’s going on in sequels, as the horror auteur literally completely remade The Evil Dead in the first five minutes of Evil Dead 2 as well. He probably should have done a similar thing with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness too, as anybody who hadn’t seen WandaVision would have been completely lost.

The quality of X-Men movies has been extremely inconsistent, and though some think Origins is a guilty pleasure comic book movie, 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine is by far the worst. Whether it’s the CGI, the screenplay, or the action, it doesn’t deliver whatsoever. However, oddly enough, the movie’s intro excels in every one of those areas.

The movie’s opening credits depict Wolverine and Sabertooth’s friendship over literally decades as they fight in several different wars, whether it’s World War II or the Vietnam War. It’s visually stunning, well-edited, and manages to tell an engaging story without any dialogue. And if it wasn’t followed by 105 minutes of ugly digital effects, absurd writing, and extremely questionable directing, it would have been an incredible short film.

Se7en does everything it can to make audiences feel as uncomfortable as possible, whether it’s the noise music or even the post-credits rolling down instead of up, and the opening credit sequence is as disturbing as possible. The opening credits depict everything about the killer that the audience doesn’t see in the film.

The intro sees John Doe burning off his fingerprints, writing his journals, and setting up his master plan, and along with credits that seem scratched into the film, it’s toe-curling on every level. For first-time viewers, they’ll have no idea what’s going on in the intro, but for audiences who have seen it before, they’ll know that it hints at all the terror that they’re about to watch.

The Watchmen comic book is so rich when it comes to world-building, and it’s impossible to fit it all into the film. But director Zack Snyder figured out how to tell the history of the superhero team within the length it takes for Bob Dylan to sing “The Times They Are A-Changin.'”

The opening credits feature the classic folk song in full as years of history about several different eras of the Watchmen are told. It’s stylish and full of slo-mo, as is typical of Snyder, but it’s an amazingly put-together sequence that fits in a remarkable amount of information, even revealing John F. Kennedy’s killer. The intro is partly why it’s Snyder’s most rewatchable movie.

Lord Of War is about an illegal arms dealer who sells weapons to an African warlord, and the whole process is essentially told in such a unique way in the opening credits. The intro is from the perspective of a single bullet from the very moment it is manufactured, to being shipped to Africa, to being loaded into a gun, to being shot into a child soldier’s head.

It’s the most effective and disturbing intro ever, and any lesser filmmaker would have had the weapons manufacturing aspect told in an exposition-filled monologue. But director Andrew Niccol feeds audiences information in such a visually stimulating way while leaving them stunned at the same time.

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