He's a bird, he's a plane... he's a comic book disguised as a movie!?
In this final instalment of our totally-planned-from-the-start trilogy on adaptations we are talking about comic books and graphic novels. Though many will look at comic books and graphic novels as the same thing, to me it is like comparing a symphony to a pop song.
Nothing wrong with either a good symphony or a good pop song but one is a little more grown up than the other. That being said, comic book adaptations, and specifically superhero films, have become a driving force within the film industry and although some see them as vapid and soulless, as a self professed geek it makes me happy to see these characters on the big screen. It has however been a long journey.
The early days
X-men and Raimi’s Spiderman were huge movies that I wanted to love so much but there was something about them that just didn’t do it for me.
Blade on the other hand was completely on point for me. The gore, the martial arts, the vampires! Sadly the Hollywood machine made it so that successive low quality sequels to each of these franchises were produced and diluted the product till it was barely watchable, X-2 being the one exception in my view.
In terms of Marvel comic book adaptations, I would say there is a BKF (Before Kevin Feige) and AKF (After Kevin Feige). It is mind-blowing that everything has fallen into place to put Marvel Studios at the top of the Hollywood totem pole and Mr. Feige bears a lot of the responsibility for it. He has steered the Marvel Cinematic Universe ("MCU") to have 5 of the top 10 grossing films of the last decade. However, it is in the interconnected universe that I believe he has really innovated. I say innovated, the truth is that comic books are built for inter-connectivity, but Kevin Feige certainly figured out how this could be done on a massive big-budget scale. Surprisingly, the same cannot be said for Warner Bros and DC.
Where comic books evoke a childish and perhaps simplistic outlook, graphic novels give off an air of maturity and respectability, so...awards.
It’s actually eye opening to see the films that are originally graphic novels.
From Blue is the Warmest Color to Ghost World these award winning films and critics' darlings were originally graphic novels. In fact, barring my jab at DC, The Dark Night Of 2008, roughly based on Frank Miller's seminal The Dark Night Returns, is arguably the high point, thus far, of a super-hero film adaptation of a graphic-novel. I believe the genre has some real gems including Logan, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Deadpool, Sin City and many many more.
Comic book movies are big business. They have learned to adapt and have also spawned many a great indie film. Now the big question... If I could adapt any comic book/graphic novel, what would it be? Probably Secret Wars. Black costume Spidey, X-men being all “Nah, man. We’ll chill over there.” and a royal rumble style set-up. Now that is my jam.
Edward "Enano" Burgos - 1st December 2019