Adaptations are far from being something unique and original in the world of cinema and one particular medium that is constantly being adapted into film is the comic book. Yes, the comic book has been continuously sullied by the greedy, sticky fingers of movie moguls since before I even knew what a comic book was. However, despite the lazy attempts and money-grubbing schemes, there have been some very good films that have successfully and competently captured the spirit of their comic book predecessors. These are my top 5 favourite films adapted from comic books.
5. 300 (Zack Snyder, 2007)
The spirit of the comic is very rich in this film. Zack Snyder may be guilty of abusing a green screen like an alcoholic abusing a liver yet he is able to showcase a film that captures the dark and gritty tones of Frank Miller’s work. Snyder even makes the fight scenes look like they were taken directly from the comic book with the use of Miller’s iconic blood splatters. Despite having his head up his ass, Snyder masterfully transitions “300” from the page to the screen with the care and attention of an artist.
4. Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn, 2010)
This adaptation really captures the hilarity and gore that is displayed in its comic book predecessor. Some creativity is taken here and there (in the comic version, the protagonist Dave does not really get that much of a happy ending) yet the bombastic style and grandiose cinematography perfectly captures the ridiculous energy Mark Millar intended with the creation of this little gem. “Kick – Ass” in either comic or cinematic form is simply… kick-ass.
3. Hellboy (Guillermo del Toro, 2004)/Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (Guillermo del Toro, 2008)
These two films are tied together for the number 3 spot because both films amicably pay tribute to the work of Mike Mignola with nigh flawlessness. Guillermo del Toro does a very excellent job of creating worlds that feel very similar to the world of Hellboy as depicted in the comics. The visuals are spooky while still maintaining an element of whimsical charm that is a very familiar trademark of Toro and Ron Perlman captures the spirit of Hellboy perfectly to the point where I hear his voice when I go back and re-read my Hellboy comics. These adaptations are perfectly crafted by a man who shows a refreshing amount of respect for the world of comics.
2. The Crow (Alex Proyas, 1994)
The comic book version of “The Crow” is very sad and the history behind the creation of the story is even sadder. The dark, dulcet tones of a Gothic urban sprawl is captured very well in this cinematic adaptation and Brandon Lee plays the role of the Crow figure to a T. I find it both very sad yet very fitting that this was Brandon’s last role before he died (he actually died during the filming of this movie). The movie and the comic book are meant to make you uncomfortable, depressed and longing for retribution; Proyas eerily captures the tones and themes that writer James O’Barr originally implanted in his comic with an almost unimaginable amount of attention and gusto that is a true tribute to the graphic novel version. My advice: read the comic, watch the movie and IGNORE THE FUCKING TERRIBLE SEQUELS AND THAT SHITTY TV SHOW.
1. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Edgar Wright, 2010)
The amount of praise that I give this movie is borderline insane; I’m a huge fan of the comic written and drawn by fellow Londoner Bryan Lee O’Malley and to see his work adapted onto the big screen was like manna from nerd heaven. Edgar Wright showcases his directorial brilliance by flawlessly transitioning everything from the comic (jokes, clothing, set designs, themes, etc.) Even the music fits the pacing of this thrill ride and was actually filmed in Toronto where the story is set. “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” is a fantastic cinematic adaptation that perfectly captures the themes and ideas of O’Malley and is one of my favorite comic-book movies of all time.