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.
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.
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.
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.