Who isn’t excited for “The Avengers” today!! A HUGE Comic Book flick, and really the first one to merge different franchises together. I can’t wait to see how it turns out, and I should be writing a review soon. But first… here’s something that’s been waiting to get posted for a long while… enjoy!
When it comes to translating classic Comic Book heroes to the big screen, there have been loads of misses and a few great hits. It doesn’t seem like an easy thing to take characters that are decades old with legions of super fans waiting to knock any inconsistency and plot hole. Some film makers try and fail to cater to the fan-boys while some do their own thing to mixed results.
I haven’t seen every single Comic Book film of course, but here’s my attempt to dissect the best and the worst adaptations in the history of film.
(I actually had a listing a few years ago on Flixster, but on this list I’m trying to eliminate Graphic Novels and only talk about the weekly serials that have become iconic over the years. And if I’m wrong about something feel free to leave a comment and let me know)
>> The Worst!
These are the 10 films that for whatever reason did not satisfy the requirements of a great Comic Book translation, or even the requirements of a halfway decent film.
10. The Punisher
The only reason I even know about the Marvel character Punisher is through my Uncle, who was a huge fan. There have been a few attempts to make this violent and controversial comic into a movie and I’ve only seen one. The 2004 Thomas Jane one, and the problem with putting the Punisher on film is simply it can’t work. Unless it’s an Indie film and not aiming for a mainstream crowd, the content is way too risky to work and most times the writers behind the adaptations are too scared to take those risks and it ends up being a stale half-ass version of what made the comic great.
9. Kick Ass
Thank God this movie had Chloë Grace Moretz , the little girl who stole this rather uneventful film about teen heroes. This movie could have been great, but it got really bogged down in trying to be serious at times that a lot of the fun and humor it should have had was totally lost. (And this is where I’m uncertain, I can’t figure out if this was a Graphic Novel or a legit Comic Book! I might have to re-edit!?)
8. Spiderman 3
How to Ruin a Great Franchise 101! 1. Add one too many villains that don’t seem related to each other at all, it will totally ruin the flow of the movie. 2. Endlessly Hype the show down between Spidey and his arch nemesis Venom, and than save it until the very last portion of the movie. 3. Forget about trying to balance dumb slap stick comedy sequences with uber-serious and intense scenes. Just a mess all over.
7. Jonah Hex
Just couldn’t get into this fantastical Cowboy comic crap, Megan Fox seemed totally mis-cast (and gratuitous), and there was no chemistry between her and star Josh Brolin. The story was actually quite interesting, but the execution just didn’t work.
It came off really cheap and way too contemporary styled to sell the Western feel. (Much like the ill fated campy “Wild Wild West” with Will Smith)
HBO had an excellent animated series based on the gritty comic, I loved that and it made me excited for this live action adaptation. But as with other ultra violent comics, mainstream can never translate them well so it came off pretty cheesy compared to what it should have been. (similar to “Punisher”)
This film was built on the fact that Catwoman and Halle Berry are sexy. And, that’s pretty much it. The other components of making a good film were totally missing with it’s flimsy storyline which basically amounted to a few sexed up poses and dozens of un-witty one liners. A cliched love story, an unbelievable villain and some actually uneventful fight scenes. At a point I did try to like this movie, but it truly is just a throwaway.
4. Batman Forever
Joel Schumacher all but ruined the “Batman” franchise Tim Burton rejuvenated. Instead of continuing on the darker, grittier path that Burton set up, Schumacher’s Gotham City was turned into an ultra cheesy, way too colorful, and overloaded Batman chapter. And the sad thing is, he wasn’t done as we’ll see soon enough.
3. Green Lantern
Cheesy graphics, a paint by number cliched script, actors that either phoned it in or just wouldn’t know the words “natural” or “chemistry” if it hit them on the head. Just an awful movie that really had no redeeming qualities at all.
2. Batman and Robin
Yes, “Batman Forever” was bad… but compared to this mess of a movie it looks like “Citizen Kane” (okay that’s going too far, maybe something like “Die Hard 4”). Not only are there way too many villains in this one, but they are third rate villains that most people (unless you were watching the animated Batman series of the time) wouldn’t have known. This film killed the Batman franchise for a while before Christopher Nolan dared to pick it back up. Awful!
Let’s see, where to start? This movie was so incredibly bad on so many different levels I don’t even know how to begin. What stands out the most is the awful CGI, than we have to think of the D.O.A. acting job of the consistently bland lead Ben Affleck. And, bottom line, it was just dumb! Boring! Not fun or funny! Absolutely no good qualities at all (maybe Colin Farrell, but there’s only so much one actor can do in a movie like this), not only is this my worst Comic Book Movie… but it ranks as one of my Worst Movies of All Time!
So clearly, these are the few that actually got it right!
10. Batman Returns
Tim Burton’s dark “Batman” was revolutionary, and even though this sequel was just a skoche lighter, it still maintained the gritty world invented in the first film. This script was surprisingly original and new, with very interesting origin stories for the main villains. On top of that, the film was perfectly cast which is probably the main selling point. Danny DeVito was perfect as the creepy Penguin and Michelle Pfieffer treaded the line perfectly from a mouse-y secretary to a sexy fearless (sort of) villain. Christopher Walken’s role is also a great component to make this film worthy of the top 10
I think of Thor as an extremely complicated story to put on the screen. Where this could have fallen apart totally, the team really did their best to make it flow well and get a lot of information out without slowing down the overall feel of the movie. Add great acting as a selling point, in fact some of the stuff that hit the cutting room floor actually proves how good of an effort this was. It combines a mythological world with a scientific world and the real world effortlessly. And there’s no way they could have cast a better leading man as Hemsworth owned this role.
8. The Dark Knight
I had deemed this movie overrated when it was ridiculously hyped upon release, and I still think the last half hour was a mess … but the rest of the movie is undeniably flawless. Visually it’s dark, but still stunning. The writing is very clever and well thought out, and who can deny Heath Ledger’s spine chillingly scary Joker. It’s not the perfect film Fan Boys would like us to believe, but for what it does get right it is pretty frikkin phenomenal.
7. Iron Man
An atypically adult and mature super hero film. There’s actually not a lot of action as compared to the films running time, but what you get is real fleshed out characters dealing with very real (okay, let your imagination run wild a little bit) situations that are relevant in the real world. And Robert Downey Jr is flawless as the rich boy you want to hate but can’t help but love.
Classic! It’s one of the first big budget comic book movies to really be taken seriously. The effects were good for the time, but luckily they didn’t over-use them because the movie really does still stand up some 30 years later. Richard Donner’s Superman has lots of heart, great casting, and just overall a lot fun. Like what a Comic Book is supposed to be.
5. Captain America
Much like “Thor” (and frankly all of the films leading up to the avengers), “Captain America” had so much plot and character details to get through you’d think it would totally fall apart. However this film has almost a perfect balance of action, drama, character development, humor and intensity.
X-men is such a great comic book series, it’s really a shame that most of the film adaptations thus far have been a little lack luster. With the big exception of “X2”, which totally grabbed viewers with the intense and non stop opening scene. By the very suspenseful and climactic end, you feel the film might have been too short. What this film had the other two lacked was that this was all about the action.
This is actually my favorite movie of All Time, simply because director Tim Burton took a totally new approach to the comic book genre. Flipping the corny Batman TV series of the 60’s and turning into a supremely dark and edgy suspense filled thriller with lots of humor with great visuals. This movie really, in my mind, changed the landscape of the comic book flicks and should be celebrated for taking a risk and setting a new trend.
2. Spiderman 2
The first two Spiderman movies make the top of my list because I think Sam Raimi and company did the best job of really bringing the comic book feeling to the big screen to life. There’s a certain life to both films that resembles that of an actual comic book, plus some of the visual techniques look like a comic book page re-created. Add to that it’s a fast paced, funny movie with some more than capable actors.