Just A Thought | Comics on Film (and Television)*

*to be sung to Duran Duran’s Girls on Film – Pete

Like a lot of comic fans, I love it when I hear the words “(insert title) will begin filming early next year. Based on the popular comic book, (insert title) could look to smash box office records”… or something to that effect.

For whatever reason, we do like the validation that movies and TV brings to comics even if for a shining moment. It’s a pretty good relationship in a lot of ways. If the movie/TV show is good, it can bring in a few new readers (anyone thinking that everyone who sees a comic book movie then goes out and looks into the comic is insane. I’d wager maybe 1 in 30 will seek out a comic and then only one or two of those will stick around as a part of the readership) and you get to look sort of cool by knowing everything about the character way before everyone else does because you’ve been following the comic since you were six. If the movie/TV show is bad or worse, you can just brush it off as “Oh, they changed so much from the comic book” and be about your way, nerd cred still intact.

But sometimes it’s weird when you see something that when you look at it, got a majority of things right but yet something in it just didn’t work which seemed to make the rest of the piece malfunction.

Take Constantine for example.

Realistically, the film ain’t a hell of a lot different then the comics it was based off of. Sure certain things were condensed and changed around for Hollywood. The story was somewhat solid, the budget was there. What happened? Keanu Reeves. It was a case of miscasting and while I’m sure Mr. Reeves did dig the part and really wanted to do a good job, he just wasn’t the asshole that the comics version is. Despite the fact that the rest of the movie was pretty much on par, that one bit of casting made the it seem a lot worse than it actually was. And for the record, I think Jason Statham would have been an all around better choice. He doesn’t look the part but he sounds it and can pull of that smugness that Constantine needed. For those of you who dispute his acting ability, go watch Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch and try to disagree with me.

Heroes started off almost perfect. The first season should be shown to every producer who wants to make a super hero TV series. My mom even started watching it as did a good chunk of other viewers across many demographics. Unfortunately the rest of the series slowly slid into everything you don’t want to do in comics or in TV. By the end it reminded me of mid 90’s era X-Men; a ton of characters, a whole lot of confusion and not a lot to actually enjoy.

But then you have other pieces where the changes didn’t seem to effect much. Blade for instance was not like his movie counter part when the film arrived. He wore a yellow coat and had an afro and some big ass sunglasses. It wasn’t even cool for the 70’s. But the general character was hidden under there and to his credit, David Goyer found it and made him awesome. So awesome in fact that the character (now changed to resemble the film version) can never seem to carry a comic book title of his own despite three fairly successful films.

So why did I bring these things up in the first place?

The Cape and Not So Ordinary Family.

They aren’t bad per say. And to be fair The Cape has only has one episode. But there is something just a miss in both series that I can’t pick out. All of them have actors I enjoy (especially Michael Chiklis and Keith David) but both just seem to have a wink, wink, nudge, nudge feel to the comic community but almost like “We know this is the type of stuff you comic kids like” as opposed to being made for everyone by fans of the genre.

Or I could be wrong. It happens about once a year…or whenever I start making predictions.

Next week, alternate realities and the X-Men.

Brent Chittenden
Brent Chittenden

Brent Chittenden is a Canadian freelance writer currently writing for alancross.ca, geekhardshow.com and his own pop culture podcast, TATANS. He is readily available for writing and speaking gigs. Brent like sandwiches.

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13 years ago

I agree about No Ordinary Family. I was very excited about this series, I wondered if maybe it would be a new Heroes (season 1 only though… maybe some of season 2). I saw the pilot and was seriously disappointed. I felt like saying to the writers “Ok, we get you’re trying to mix Modern Family with superheroes, but stop making it so obvious”

Scott VanderPloeg
13 years ago

How could you sing it to Girls On Film: it’s too many syllables.

13 years ago

Television shows and movies based on comic books or super heroes will keep coming out until the market is saturated. It is a good place for producers to grab ideas from because how many police procedural/forensic evidence shows can you keep making. Fans are interested in super heroes, so we get super hero shows/movies.

I agree with everyone that Heroes Season 1 was unbelievable television, but half way through season 2 something was wrong. I never did watch season 3 and on. I feel the same thing will happen to No Ordinary Family. If they let the show evolve and the characters develop it will be successful, by that I mean, let the characters become Super Heroes. Let them have costumes and be in the public eye as heroes. Don’t develop the show under the guidelines of “No Flight, No Tights”. I don’t want to see the family intereaction and the back story, I want to see them as the Super Heroes they should (but it is getting closer since George has a new lair).

This year will show if Super Hero/Comic Book movies are relevant. With Captain America, Thor and X-Men First Class (tenatively) coming out this year, if they make money – we will see more “comic” movies. If they bomb, I think the movie industry will look to other places for content.