Jun 25 2012

Six Comic Books That Are Way Better Than The Movie

Published by at 10:00 am under Lists,Movies

This article should really be called “All Comic Books Are Better Then The Movie” and then the article should end. Because that title pretty sums up how I, and most comic book fans, feel. An article that lacking  would not be much of a read for you kids, though, so I reconfigured it in my head to be a list that had the six most erroneous examples of the movies deviating from the source material when it comes to film adaptations of comics.

Please understand in reading this, I have not read every graphic novel and comic book ever made, so when you guys comment that I forgot to mention some obscure comic from the 70’s that got made into some obscure movie from the 80’s, it may not actually be that I forgot to mention it, but that comics cost me money and I have failed to read every single comic book ever because my expenditures have a limit on them. That having been said, here are six examples where the filmmakers mustn’t have even read the material that inspired the films they were making.

League Of Extraordinary Gentleman

It is normal and understandable for Alan Moore, one of the greatest comic creators of all time, to distance himself from the film adaptations of his work. Though there are multiple reasons for this, I think the most common reason would have to be the fact that he is uber-aware that there is no way they can do the source material any kind of justice. Alan Moore doesn’t shy away from creating scenes that make people cringe and wince, but if you saw this film adaptation of his series, The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman, you would have no idea of that.

The comic is brilliant. The film is literally unworthy of lining the comic book’s cage to catch its droppings.

Everything that made this comic book series exceptional was not transcribed to the film at all. It was like some film producer read what the series was about (a bunch of famous characters from fiction literature throughout history form a team and fight crime? Wowza, let’s make that into a movie!) but never actually picked up a single issue or had an inkling or a clue as to what the characters were actually like.

For example, that one time Hyde rapes the invisible Man to death.  Do you think anyone would have put this character on film if they thought their story would play out in the comics like that? But, if they actually read any of it at all they would have seen the story was not so much about a crime fighting team as it was so much about the way these people interact with each other. The politics of the developing relationships within the dynamic of the group.

But no, we didn’t get that. We get Sean Connery doing a ninety minute impression of Sean Connery. We get watered down sex scenes and one dimensional characters. We get crap like this:

Man, the freakishly empty streets make this scene even more stiflingly stupid.

It is like industry heads read Alan Moore comics and then do all they can to squeeze any of the depth, intensity, and character development out of it before they turn it into a movie. And the worst offense of all? People who do not read the comics and see the film then walk away from the film thinking the comic books sucked and that is why the film sucked, and that is inexcusable. Alan Moore weaves incredible stories. How is this so easy for so many filmmakers to mess up?

Because they are not meant for film.

Wanted

I have talked about my appreciation for this book before in passing, and the reason for that is just how depraved it was. Mark Millar likes to cross lines. Hell, he likes to whip it out and piss on those lines. And while that bothers people, I find it kind of fun. Mindless fun. And Wanted is a great example of that. But allow me to show you just how badly this movie differentiated from the very concept of the book.

First, we begin with visuals. Every character in the book was illustrated with a major actor in mind, with Eminem as the lead: Here, check it out:

He is IN the comic, and even he is like: What?!

The Fox character was drawn around Halle Berry. Note the “Catwoman” ears. There are a lot of little Easter eggs that like in this comic.

It may have been her horrid turn in Catwoman that nixed her for this part, ironically.

And The Killer, who was the basis of the whole story, was designed to look EXACTLY like Tommy Lee Jones. So my first question is: Why not hire the people he had in mind initially? Granted, Eminem would most likely not be able to hold the lead in a movie like this, even though he held his own in 8 Mile, so that is understandable. But why no Tommy Lee or Halle? Well, those inquiries are minor in comparison to my next question which is: Why is the movie nothing at all like the comic book?

” I don’t f*ck goats, Mr Gibson. I make love to them.” Mr. Rictus

The book was about an organization of “bad guys” who just up and kill all the world’s good guys and then function as a sort of Illuminati, doing what they want, when they want, with little to no repercussion. And just like the movie, Wesley is a chump who comes from a bloodline of greatness, but he needs to get that greatness tapped into with the help of others.

And while things may appear similar at times, the stories go down WILDLY different paths.

Though the action in the movie is decent, and it is fun and mindless, the true sense of anarchy that runs rampant through the book is all but absent in the film, replaced by a shiny veneer and a subtext of doing bad for good reasons.

The Wanted comic book is about doing really bad for REALLY bad reasons, and loving every minute of it. There is a guy made of human feces named Shithead that ends up being “bleached to death” by our hero, who in the book, is actually a pretty slimy guy himself.

I could go on for days and days, but I think you can see why Wanted is on the list now.

Spawn

Alright, some people may want to jump on the comments and say “Hey, I Loved the Spawn movie when it came out” and that is fine. But let me ask you, when it came out, were you thirteen years old, give or take? Have you watched it again recently? And did you ever read the comic book?  The comic book was Todd McFarlane trying to show the world just how “edgy” Image comics were in the nineties. It is a story about a man who went to Hell and made a deal with the Devil. Real light hearted stuff that just screams PG-13, right?

Kids love superheroes. Kids love zombies. Put them together, seems like it can’t lose.

Now I do want to give some credit, they did a decent job (at the time) of converting the source material into decidedly summer movie fodder, but now, the movie looks half animated  as a result of special effects that did not age well.

And if John Legiuzamo chewed any more scenery in this film, you could call it a Pac Man adaptation as well. We understand the clown character was over the top in the book, too, but his performance is almost unbearably annoying to the point where it borders on migraine inducing.

I even see pictures of him and I grimace.

Michael Jai White would go on to play Black Dynamite, though, so I still think that casting was genius. But it really did feel like a kick in the balls to the character it was based on. Though HBO would run an animated version of the show for awhile that was actually quite good and did the Spawn character some justice.

Tank Girl

To understand just how bad it was, you have to first understand just how loved the comic was. Even if you did not love it, if it was not successful, there would most likely be no Gorillaz right now. Not the species, the band. I was hoping the spelling would have made that clear, but I best cover my own bases none the less.

It was very much the art of Jamie Hewlett that caused a lot of people to pick up the book and, ultimately, fall in love with it. It was quirky and strange and stylish, and though the film tried to do all this as well, it just failed. It really, really failed.

To truly understand just how bad they failed, they cast Ice T to play this character:

Hold on, it gets worse…

But they make him look like this:

Yeah, I know I had nightmares after seeing it for the first time, too.

In certain mediums, style and quirkiness does not convey itself so well. When you are trying to take a world as stylized as Tank Girl, and put it on to film, you have to be prepared to take some major leaps and bounds. And though the casting of Laurie Petty was decent, reading the character’s sarcasm and wit is one thing, but being subjected to 90 minutes of it that is non-stop is another.

And while they did their best to tell the story of Tank Girl, they had to have know as soon as they started that their best was just not going to be good enough.





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22 responses so far

  • wevs

    Next make a “movies better than the comic book” list.

    First entry should be Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I personally loved the movie and then decided to check the coimc out – I was baffled by the hipster pretentiousness and mindless relationship drivel conveyed by walls of text a-la Tim Buckley. Honestly, every worth while moment in the comic was in the movie and done times better.

  • Nuggs

    Constantine was a decent movie, if it hadn’t been based on Hellblazer.

    They took the greatest DCU/Vertigo character ever and made him…

    Keanu Reeves.

  • http://geekwisdom.wordpress.com Fiefo

    What? No Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD starring David Hasslehoff?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Fury:_Agent_of_S.H.I.E.L.D._(film)

  • Steve

    I was going to say “you should probably change the title, then” after reading hte first paragraph and seeing that you used a pic from Wanted as the header pic, but, really… that’s the only movie on the list that could be argued to be as good (if wildly different) than the comic it was based on.

    My wife would probably throw her hat in for a LOEG argument, too, but really–Moore’s rampant mysogeny isn’t likely to win him many female fans, and Mina Harker was a decent character in the film compared to her shallow, submissive sex-toy comic version.

  • Steve

    Also: Pointing out that a character called The Fox, who was obviously meant to be a Catwoman pastiche (much as Shithead was Clayface, and Rictus was Joker meets Red Skull), has ears on her head and calling it an “Easter egg” is like saying that Dr Manhatten has “a Captain Atom symbol on his head, like an Easter egg!!” or that Nite Owl’s Owl Ship looks like Blue Beetle’s Beetle Buggy (whatever it’s called)… Is Apollo from Authority/Stormwatch having solar-based powers, like Superman, an Eater egg too, or just the fact that he’s boning Midnighter?

    Sorry for the rant, that just struck me funny…

  • Ness

    ^pretentious comic book guy is pretentious…and kind of a dick

  • schnar

    Agree with everything written herein, except I actually enjoyed The Spirit, probably for the same reasons it’s much-loathed.

  • trashcanman

    I actually thought I was going to click on this article and there was just going to be the words “All of them” with lots and lots of pictures of comic book movie covers. You are so very right about the jetpack in Kick-Ass, but casting Cage channeling Adam West as Big Daddy was actually the worst thing they did seeing that BD was more of an exploration of the notion of a Frank Castle type character raising a sidekick of his own rather than having anything in any way to do with 60’s Batman. I call fail. I also enjoyed The Spirit, but I would never venture to call it “good” without adding the words “so bad it’s” in front of the statement.

    And wait, commenter Steve, Harker was submissive in the comic version of LEG? I recall her being rather unpleasant and insulting towards most of the other characters and the strong leader of the team besides. “Sex toy”? Because she eventually got together with one of the other members of the team? Bloody ‘ell. I don’t think Moore is the misogynist in this conversation.

  • http://remycarreiro.com/ Remy Carreiro

    @ Wevs, that is a good idea for a piece, but there are SO FEW of them, the list would be tiny.
    @Nuggs, very well put. If it was standalone, I would have loved the film, but knowing that Keanu was supposed to be John, who was in fact, visually based on Sting, was just too much.
    @Fiefo, you just won life, man, I totally forgot “The Hoff” was the original Nick Fury. Great call, man.
    @Steve, Anyone can make that argument about Moore, but I think @Trashcanman has you pinned here. Also, regarding the Wanted statement. I appreciate your thoughts on it, but even if the references are as subtle as a nut punch, they are still references. And yes, Alan Moore makes them, too.
    @ Ness, That gave me a genuine laugh, and not one of those weak LOL’s.
    @Trashcanman, That is a very solid point about Big Daddy, and in the book, he had such a different tone, and I think that is why I actually kind of appreciated his “Nic Cage”ifying of the role. I know a lot of people (justifiably) hate that man’s acting, but for some reason, on odd occasions ( the twelfth full moon on the eight night of the second month of the third solstice) I actually like his ham, and this was one of those cases. Well played on the Moore comment, for sure.

  • http://www.olivernewton.co.uk Albatraous

    Err. the “Deadpool” example you give is Typhoid Mary with an image inducer. Not Deadpool.

    A better example would be from the first few pages of issue 1 (of the original series) with him narrating out loud what he is doing.

  • Piratey

    @Albatraous Cable and Deadpool was so awesome :) I scanned my favorite moment:
    pt1
    http://i.imgur.com/HNZQu.jpg
    p2
    http://i.imgur.com/oiB2l.jpg
    p3
    http://i.imgur.com/9kYiM.jpg
    p4
    http://i.imgur.com/C77IU.jpg

  • cmoody

    Halle Berry should not EVER be cast in ANY movie ANYWHERE! She is awful. She gets movie roles because she is pretty, not because she is talented. She has never given a decent performance in anything, including Monster’s Ball – a movie in which every other actor on screen completely out shined her in all of the movie’s depressing pointlessness. Hell, even P-Diddy did a better job in that movie than she did. While I may not have thought Wanted was as good as it could have been, it was a million times better than anything that would have featured Halle Berry in a lead role.
    Thank you for reading.

  • http://remycarreiro.com/ Remy Carreiro

    @Albatraouse: I thought that pic did the best job at conveying the character, i.e. Google images did not have a better one available, but damn, that is pretty impressive to pick up on, and I agree with you.
    My personal fave Deapool moment from recent memory is when he fought Wolverine and saw his claws as spoons. Something so insanely wonderful about that.
    @Piratey, I may save those pics for a future Deadpool article, if you don’t mind. *wide, innocuous smile.
    @cmoody, wow man, say how you REALLY feel about her….haha

  • Steve2

    I loved Punisher War Zone. To me it was like watching an 80’s slasher film with the killer as the Protagonist. No melodramatic stuff like the Thomas Jane version (which to me looked more like some elaborate scheme a jealous ex-wife would kick up, in regards to Jane’s punisher tricking Travolta to kill his wife and best friend). Yes the film was cheesy, but I love bad/good movies and honestly can’t remember the last time I had that much fun in a movie theater.

  • SickP

    Punisher:War Zone is the reason I broke up with my ex.

  • danielrandkai

    Spawn is terrible whether it is the movie OR the comic. The latter is just less terrible than the former. But really, neither is worth the time. Sadly, I wasted time in order to find that out. Wah-waahhh.

  • Nobodyspecial

    Couldn’t stand the wanted comic. Movie wasn’t much better but I’m pretty sure it didn’t have the incredibly stupid/racist/sexist Millar dialogue.

  • Nickjaa

    good article

  • http://remycarreiro.com/ Remy Carreiro

    @Sickp, I have broke up with woman for less lmao

  • dancacahuate

    Uhhh…The Watchmen????? The only reason this list should be made is to tell everyone to not see the movie and go read one of the best pieces of fiction of all time.

  • Steve

    @Remy- Definitely references; wasn’t arguing that… But you called Fox’ Fox Ears “Catwoman ears” and an “Easter Egg the book is full of.” Easter Eggs are “hidden messages, in-jokes, or special features”… Having a character with a fox motiff that is a pastiche of Catwoman have ears on her costume is none of those things any more than Midnighter climbing the outside of a building would be an “Adam West Batman Easter Egg” or Catman having a cape and cowl is… Homage? Reference? It was just a weird turn of phrase that I saw recently in another article, too, and my pre-coffee mind latched onto it with (overblown) irritation. There are certainly little Easter Eggs in the book (which, as you’ve pointed out, are subtle as a jackhammer) like Superman’s cape in the trophy room and stuff, but “Fox” having fox ears on her fox costume? Aaaaannnnnnd, I’m ranting again.

    As to the LOEG comments, mayhaps it’s past time I really sit down and read the series… It’s been ages, and it’s entirely possible the wife picked it up, leafed through it, found one section of Alan pinning Mina against a tree and was like “not for me…” I just know she ranted about that and her being locked away and dismissed as a flaky, hysterical loon for a good long while.

  • Steve

    Also: my point on the Watchmen characters not being Easter Eggs, either, is that they were actually supposed to be those characters when Moore wrote it, but then DC told him not to… It’s not an Easter Egg that Dr Manhatten has an atomoic symbol on him, like Captain Atom… Now, if there was a blue scarab or the “air cannon” sitting on a shelf in the Owl Ship? And you had to look to see it there? Easter Egg.

    [/nitpicky rant]

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