Much like the conversion of video games to film, comic books
have never really seemed to fare well in the theatres (or
on television in live-action). In fact, it's only rare that
a comic to movie translation comes across well, while maintaining
some similarity to the original comics. More often than not,
the acting, script or overall production ends up shoddy. And
that doesn't even take into consideration the liberties taken
with the character's origin and backstory.
Superman - Let's be honest. It's really hard
to screw up Superman. You have to make a full blown attempt
to make a bad Superman movie or television show. The original
movie was excellently done, and even the sequel was pretty
good, even if it did suffer the normal tendencies of a sequel.
From that point on, though, the movie series was, well, forgettable.
Now, there's another project that's been on and off with different
directors and actors slated for it. They're going to have
a hard time topping Reeves as Superman.
Batman - Unfortunately, Batman has not
fared to well in the theatres. First there was the Adam West
camp-fest, which took most of the caped crusader's dignity
and crapped on it. Fortunately, Tim Burton managed to put
together a fine film representation to bring back the dark
hero. While Jack Nicholas stole the show as Joker, fans of
Batman can't deny that he was represented well. But, then
the sequels grew more and more ridiculous, straying from Batman's
image to a Day-Glo, one-liner filled dork (Batman and Robin).
X-Men - While this fan favorite had only seen
mediocre appearances in the cartoons, no one dared to touch
it until the recent film
by Singer. With such a huge cast and a history that would
require multiple volumes to explain effectively, a lot of
corners had to be cut to bring the story to the theatre. Still,
they managed to do the series justice, even if in a Cliff
Notes version. Since this movie saw such success, a series
of sequels are planned, which will probably only serve to
dilute the success of the original.
Fantastic Four - This movie was so bad
it never even saw a VHS release. That's all I have to say
about it. What do you expect for a $1 Million budget?
The Punisher - I guess you could say that this one did
manage to nail down the character effectively. I guess. The
movie itself was fairly... uh... well.. okay. I guess if I
hadn't been such a big Punisher fan at the time I might have
been calling for someone's head. If you like guns, guns and
more guns, then this flick was okay. IF you actually wanted
something more than melodrama...
Captain America - Yes, the movie about
how Steve Rogers became Captain America in his fight against
the Red Skull. Unfortunately, the movie should have been called:
"Steve Rogers and a five minute fight scene with Captain
America". Was the costume rented out? Why make a movie
about a superhero if you're not going to show him in it?
Blade and Blade 2 - The part-vampire vampire
hunter was never a big player in the comic series outside
of the few Dracula series that saw the light of day. But,
getting Wesley Snipes to do this movie and subsequent sequel
was a smart idea. While fairly light on where Blade originally
came from, the movies did create interest in this character.
The Independents - Don't
think that coming from a less established comic company (like
Dark Horse or Image) gave movie makers more incentive to get
things right. Fortunately, there hasn't been as rampant abuse
of the lesser known titles.
Spawn - This movie almost got it. There was
lots of action, lots of special effects and it seemed that
they almost nailed the comic down. Unfortunately, they forgot
to write a script before filming the movie.
Tank Girl - Should have got straight
to video. In fact, shouldn't have been filmed at all.
And, I won't waste your time to complain about the track
record of comics on the television. While the Hulk was okay
(it never really felt like the Hulk from the comics),
it was a far cry better than most (anyone else remember Generation
X or the Flash?). Lois and Clark was okay,
if you didn't want to see real Superman villains outside of
Luthor. Witchblade is a far cry better than most, and
some of the cartoons have managed to turn out decently, but
on the whole, Primetime television is not a medium for comics
to be successful on. Often there are too many decisions made
on demographics (for commercial revenue) that influence the
production rather than trying to stick to the original material.
Coming Soon - With all
of this being said, it looks like Hollywood is jumping on
the bandwagon, once again. With the success of the X-Men and
imminent release of what looks like an excellent Spiderman
flick, all of the major studios are lining up to put famous
actors in spandex and beat the crap out of them:
Daredevil - 20th Century Fox looks to star
Ben Affleck as the blind Man Without Fear. Other characters
include Michael Clark Duncan as the Kingpin and Jennifer Garner
as Elektra. Slated for Early 2003.
Ghost Rider - Supposedly, Nicholas Cage
is going to be in this flick, proposed for sometime in 2003.
Wasn't too long ago when Nick was rumored to be the new Superman.
I'll believe it when I see it.
The Fantastic Four - Another Marvel
license that 20th Century Fox has managed to acquire. Cast
has yet to even be rumored.
The Hulk - This Ang Lee project looks to be
heading for a summer 2003 release with a CGI Hulk from ILM.
Batman: Year One - Frank Miller's masterful
telling of Batman's first year as a crimefighter has no current
cast planned. Fortunately, Miller is co-writing the script,
so it stands a chance of being fairly close to the original
Iron Man - To be written by Joss (Buffy
the Vampire Slayer) Whedon, expect this New Line project sometime
in 2004 if it makes it that far.
With all of this being said, true comic fans must always
live with a certain apprehension about their favorites making
it to the silver screen. The track record is spotty at best,
but we can always live with a little hope. Hollywood's going
to get more than enough chances to disappoint or impress us
in the next two years.