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I Remember Remember: Comic Book Adaptations That Worked

Nov. 5, 2012by:
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Good morning, JoBlo. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine - the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone's death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

About comic book adaptations, that is.  They have become the go-to goldmine of recent years in Hollywood, with comics of every ilk and caliber being at the very least optioned and at the very most made into feature-length films  Rarely honored in full and more often than not extensively transformed beyond recognition by fans, they make up a large chunk of what you've seen in cinemas of late and will continue to do so (while often making large chunks of money) through the foreseeable future.  Now that being said, I see there to be two main kinds of comic book adaptation - those that hew close to the comics, a road which brings its own host of potential problems, and those that don't.  The latter category can be a more dangerous path to tread, as it's difficult to capture the spirit of intent originally meant by the author/illustrator while store redrafting characters and forging a new plot refitted to fit filmic needs and language.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World pic for editorial

So what I'm going to do, by way of avoiding the War and Peace of editorials that we both know I could (and would) write if given the chance, is list a few of those adaptations that I think particularly worked over the last fifteen or so years.  I should probably specify though that when I say "worked," I mean were both true to the spirit of their source material AND were good movies beisdes. Many of the Marvel movies, for example, were true enough to the source material but didn't end up being anything I feel the impulse to rewatch. So maybe this editorial would do better to simply be retitled as "My Favorite Comic Book Adaptations."

But back to my list - I didn't become familiar with the source material for some of these until after seeing the movie, whereas others were properties that I was plenty familiar with before the film ever rolled around.  Some of these stick close to the source material, and some of them take the unique world/characters/spirit of the original story and forge their own successful identity.  Either way though, this is just my opinion. These are the ones that I happen to think got it right, but this of course isn't just about me - what do you think? What movies would make the cut in your estimation? And what needs to be remembered remembered by Hollywood if it wants to get things right for future adaptations?

My list goes a little something like this (in no particular order):

HELLBOY, and HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY even more so
ROAD TO PERDITION
THE DARK KNIGHT
THE AVENGERS
CONSTANTINE
THE CROW
SIN CITY
DREDD 3D
THE LOSERS
V FOR VENDETTA
X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM

Hellboy 2 wallpaper

Extra Tidbit: Say what you will, I absolutely and unabashedly enjoyed THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Though I definitely agree that The Lizard was criminally mangled in the page-to-screen transition.
Source: JoBlo.com

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4:41PM on 11/05/2012

WTF

How am I supposed to take this list seriously when it doesn't include
300
but, more importantly
WATCHMEN ?

And YES, I'll take Snyder's slow mo over Bay's parkinsonnian shakycam ANYDAY !!
How am I supposed to take this list seriously when it doesn't include
300
but, more importantly
WATCHMEN ?

And YES, I'll take Snyder's slow mo over Bay's parkinsonnian shakycam ANYDAY !!
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4:27PM on 11/05/2012

The Dark Knight Returns

Lets not forget that DC has been on the ball with the animated films. They have all been spot on and entertaining
Lets not forget that DC has been on the ball with the animated films. They have all been spot on and entertaining
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6:39PM on 11/05/2012
DC's short-animated features, i.e. Green Arrow and The Spectre, are quite good too.
DC's short-animated features, i.e. Green Arrow and The Spectre, are quite good too.
+10
1:44PM on 11/05/2012
What? no love for Blade? That was the first Marvel property that really worked on screen
What? no love for Blade? That was the first Marvel property that really worked on screen
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10:24AM on 11/05/2012
I disagree with about half of this list, but totally agree with the other half; not too terrible I think. Also, I feel that with the more recent adpatations they at least tried to be faithful, even if they failed. 5 years or more ago, I would have agreed more with the 'mangled' idea, in terms of being true.
I disagree with about half of this list, but totally agree with the other half; not too terrible I think. Also, I feel that with the more recent adpatations they at least tried to be faithful, even if they failed. 5 years or more ago, I would have agreed more with the 'mangled' idea, in terms of being true.
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9:39AM on 11/05/2012
I'd like to mention Watchmen, although many wouldn't agree, I thought it was brilliant. I thought the ending change was for the better as well. Zack Snyder did a remarkable job. Great list. Christopher Nolan's Batman is obvious. The Spirit was well adapted, but the story itself wasn't anything good to begin with.
I'd like to mention Watchmen, although many wouldn't agree, I thought it was brilliant. I thought the ending change was for the better as well. Zack Snyder did a remarkable job. Great list. Christopher Nolan's Batman is obvious. The Spirit was well adapted, but the story itself wasn't anything good to begin with.
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9:35AM on 11/05/2012
***SPOILER ALERT*** ***SPOILER ALERT*** ***SPOILER ALERT***
To me, a comic book movie that gets really close to the source material is "Batman: Mask of The Phantasm". So okay, The Phantasm wasn't in the comic. I give it that. However, the tone of the movie really nailed it, especially the back story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman which also serves as romantic subplot. You can feel Bruce's pain and agony. Adding that with the climax in the 3rd act that left me breathless. Particularly when
***SPOILER ALERT*** ***SPOILER ALERT*** ***SPOILER ALERT***
To me, a comic book movie that gets really close to the source material is "Batman: Mask of The Phantasm". So okay, The Phantasm wasn't in the comic. I give it that. However, the tone of the movie really nailed it, especially the back story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman which also serves as romantic subplot. You can feel Bruce's pain and agony. Adding that with the climax in the 3rd act that left me breathless. Particularly when Batman returns to Batcave, after a battle with The Phantasm and The Joker at The World of Tomorrow site, and he finds that Andrea hid the locket inside the cave. It's really heartbreaking.
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9:32AM on 11/05/2012
I would also say Spider-man 2, Batman Begins, and Dark Knight Rises belong on the list. In addition to what the comment below said. But DEF V for Vendetta and Dredd! What about 300?
I would also say Spider-man 2, Batman Begins, and Dark Knight Rises belong on the list. In addition to what the comment below said. But DEF V for Vendetta and Dredd! What about 300?
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9:23AM on 11/05/2012
I agree with all of your choices, though I'm sure there are a few more that you may have left out. X2: X-Men United is one that comes to mind. Also I would venture to say that every Phase 1 Marvel film (even The Incredible Hulk) technically "worked" even though they occasionally tried too hard to have each film lead to the Avengers. But still, they were all thoroughly enjoyable.
I agree with all of your choices, though I'm sure there are a few more that you may have left out. X2: X-Men United is one that comes to mind. Also I would venture to say that every Phase 1 Marvel film (even The Incredible Hulk) technically "worked" even though they occasionally tried too hard to have each film lead to the Avengers. But still, they were all thoroughly enjoyable.
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