With the superhero genre becoming an integral staple of the entertainment industry, the amount of comic book adaptations hitting theaters and televisions is becoming bountiful. The two Avengers movies so far hold the record for the third- and fourth-highest domestic box office openings of all time, and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 could surpass one of those films when it hits theaters this Friday.
But while superhero movies make up a significant portion of comic book based film adaptations, they are not the only contributions to movies. SHOCKING, sure, but it must be stated. Even Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder helped build his reputation by adapting the Frank Miller and Lynn Varley comic 300 for big screens.
There are many great takes on comic books on both big and small screens. Some of them stick closely to the source material, attempting to use the comics as storyboards or give it a shot-for-shot treatment.
Others tend to play their adaptations a bit looser, changing elements where the filmmakers deem necessary to achieve their vision of the story. There’s no right or wrong way to adapt a comic book; whatever works best for the visual medium will ultimately serve the project best.
Some adaptations, however, stand out above the rest, and those are the focus of our next list. Check out the following slides to find out our favorite film adaptations, and be sure to tell us your favorites on social media.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
The movie based on Bryan Lee O’Malley Oni Press series of graphic novels had Game of Thrones problems before Game of Thrones was even a thing.
Filmmaker Edgar Wright’s film came out a month after the final volume released, and he had to consult the creator about the story’s end to adapt to his own version.
While the film’s ending is ultimately different from the comic’s—partially due to condensing six volumes into one film—the movie streamlines a lot of themes and gives it a somewhat happier feel, creating a satisfying viewing experience.
Ultimately, despite omitting characters and other storylines, the film remains a faithful adaptation to the source material and is entertaining as a whole. The CG is understated and adds to the comic book aesthetic, with lettering effects to highlight sound and action just like the volumes.
It also uses video game logic and convention to satisfying ends, making each confrontation Scott has feel like an actual boss fight. All in all, these elements contribute to making a great film by itself, heightening the experience if you’re a fan of the comics.Netflix’s stellar offerings and a feather in Marvel’s fully decorated cap.
Some might argue that the show isn’t an adaptation; that Legion’s appearances in previous X-Men comics like X-Men Legacy are only inspirations. Sure, you could argue that, but you’re not writing this list, are you?
Noah Hawley took on the seemingly impossible task of creating a serialized adaptation of a somewhat obscure—but important—character from the mutant pantheon and made it more entertaining that it has any business being.
Even fans of his seminal show Fargo couldn’t prepare for the visual spectacle each of the eight episodes provide. The filmmaking was matched by a stellar, slow-paced storyline and nuanced, subversive performances from the actors.
The show capped off a renaissance for the X-Men franchise after stellar films like Deadpool and Logan, indicating that there’s much more material to be mined in Marvel’s mutant-based corner.
Hopefully season two builds off of this first year’s excellence, and though it might be a while before we see an episode, it will be worth the wait if it’s anywhere near the quality of the initial series.
Hey, don’t leave! We’re only just beginning!
Sure, Riverdale doesn’t have the same quality of filmmaking, storytelling, or acting that permeates in every episode of Legion. But it’s still just as entertaining.
The Archie characters dwelled in the teen drama territory for decades and now they’re finally adapting to contemporary standards. Shows like Degrassi have been around for years because the audience finds those stories compelling.
Riverdale is just a natural evolution of the interpretation of Archie characters, who lend so well to the tropes and conventions of teenage melodrama.
Adding in a Twin Peaks-esque mystery storyline brings it all together in a way that shouldn’t work but strangely does. And it works very damn well. Few shows are as entertaining as Riverdale, for all of it’s flaws, and so long as it stays the path its established in its first season, it should stick around for a long time.
The best Batman movie and up there on the list of great Christmas movies, Tim Burton’s second film focusing on the Caped Crusader casts a shadow over the rest. The director’s partnership with Michael Keaton created an iconic portrayal of the World’s Greatest Detective, despite the Batman’s inability to turn his neck.
The movie built off of the dark, gothic theme of the first to great degree, with greater sets and intriguing cinematography that provided the best onscreen portrayal of Gotham City.
And though some might prefer Christopher Nolan’s gritty, “realistic” take on a rich guy who spends his fortunes on gadgets to beat up sick and poor people rather than spend his resources focused on programs to rehabilitate criminals and restore infrastructure that doesn’t involve thermonuclear reactors under the city’s streets, Burton’s Batman blended the right amount of camp and darkness.
The mixture is almost perfectly realized in the film’s main villains: Max Schreck (Christopher Walken), a city powerhouse and power fiend who plans to build a plant that will siphon away Gotham’s abundance energy, and the Penguin (Danny DeVito), an orphan adopted by a circus folk who bites off a guy’s nose.
What more could you want?
Damiel Clowes creates some amazing comics. And though he’s continued branching into screenwriting, recently adapting his own story Wilson as a movie starring Woody Harrelson, he first made his mark on the cinematic world with the film Ghost World.
The witty and pessimistic take on the coming of age tale tends to forgo cliche and convention, instead allowing its characters to screw up and not apologize. The lesson here is that sometimes there is no lesson—growing up is difficult.
Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson portray hilarious, cruel girls that make fun of anything outside of their sphere of familiarity. Nothing is spared, nothing is sacred—until they dupe Steve Buscemi’s seemingly pathetic character.
Their lives get even messier, they make mistakes, they hurt each other and themselves, and nothing gets fixed when the film ends. And that’s… ok. In fact, it’s great.
Ghost World adapts Clowes’ original comic with unflinching aplomb, bordering between offensive and endearing at every moment. It could be the best comic book adaptation ever made, and there’s nary a superhero in sight.
No one thought superhero movies had any business being this serious. Well, except maybe Zack Snyder, but something about his films tend to miss the mark.
And though the plot and action get a bit derailed by the time the clone X-24 makes an appearance, it still manages to get back on track and tell a completely whole and satisfying story.
X-Men movies tend to straddle that line between campy and serious, spectacle and drama, but Logan manages to retain that heart while telling a self-serving tale about death and legacy. Superpowers exist, but there merely window dressing. Shadow OPs and government conspiracies pervade, but they’re a vehicle to drive in the attrition.
There are some overwrought moments, like the entire portion at the farm with the unlucky family who tries to give Logan a nice meal, but it all serves the overall narrative.
Logan’s portrayal of violence is also welcome to the film. It isn’t understated, it’s visceral and underscores the purpose of the film’s story. Plus, it’s finally nice to see Wolverine actually get to use his claws for a change.
Netflix’s foray into the superhero genre changed the game and redefined how costume-clad crimefighters could be portrayed.
The first season of Daredevil showed everyone that there was an audience for these kinds of stories and the audience would be willing to come along for the ride.
The action scenes aren’t overdone with wire effects or CG sequences; instead, they’re well choreographed and brutal, and you feel like you’re getting your ass kicked like you’re standing right next to Matt Murdock.
But the film also dealt with real world ramifications of super heroics and vigilantism, portraying a villain in Vincent D’Onofrio’s near perfect role of the Kingpin as a villain that had to be outsmarted to be beaten.
It was slightly disappointing when the final confrontation devolved into a glorified fistfight between Daredevil and Kingpin after the series spent so much time building up how smart they were and how each of them needed to win using their brains. But, it is a superhero show, so it might have been even more disappointing if it simply ended with Wilson Fisk getting arrested and not beating the crap out of Daredevil.
Either way, it remains a highlight among Netflix’s stellar offerings and a feather in Marvel’s fully decorated cap.