Monday, November 18, 2013

The History of Comic Book Adaptations to Film: Part Fourteen (2010)

2010 was a pretty big year for comic book adaptations as recent hits like The Dark Knight and Iron Man had convinced studios that they were here to stay and the floodgates began to open.


The biggest comic book film of 2010 was Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 2. Jon Favreau came back to direct and most of the cast returned as well. The most notable exception was the character of War Machine. He was played by Terrence Howard in the first one, but Don Cheadle filled the role in the sequel. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but rumors indicate that payment may have been an issue as Howard was the highest paid cast member in Iron Man. It was probably for the best, as Cheadle is better suited for the role and reprised it again in Iron Man 3, Age of Ultron, and Civil War.

New to the franchise was Mickey Rourke who appeared as the villain, Whiplash. Elements of the Iron Man enemy Crimson Dynamo were included in the character. He's a pretty uninteresting antagonist and Rourke supposedly didn't enjoy the final product and even implied that Marvel Studios' films were "mindless".

The filmmakers also used Justin Hammer as a villain. He’s played by Sam Rockwell and there are a few differences between the MCU Hammer and the comic version. For example, in the comics, he’s an elderly man, but they decided to make him younger so he could be more of a rival to Tony Stark. It's worth noting that there was a Justin Hammer Jr. in the Ultimate universe. Hammer's also a very credible threat in the comics, whereas the film portrays him as an ineffectual buffoon.

Iron Man 2 did great at the box office, making $623 million overall, compared to a budget of $200 million. However, fans usually consider it to be a step down from the original. And now that there are 3 Iron Man films, it’s often chosen at the worst of the trilogy, a sentiment I agree with. The film's Rotten Tomatoes score was still a respectable 73%, it's just that this was significantly lower than the first's score of 94. Iron Man 2 did get one Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects.

A common complaint has been that the second Iron Man movie is too much of a set up for The Avengers. Black Widow, one of the major characters from The Avengers, is shown for the first time here in a pretty sizable role. Nick Fury is also fleshed out for the first time; he had only appeared in an after credit scene before this film. Also, Tony reads his father’s notes about an item called the Tesseract, which would be a plot point in both Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers. Another reference to the greater Marvel universe occurred in the post-credits scene, which involved Agent Coulson finding Thor’s hammer.

This is easily one of the lesser Marvel Studios films, and probably the worst one, with the only movie in the same ballpark being Thor: The Dark World.

Kick-Ass was adapted from a comic by the famous writer Mark Millar, published from 2008 to 2010. The concept is basically what would happen if people tried to be superheroes in real life.

The violent, R-Rated film contains tons of references to various comics. The character of Big Daddy is clearly inspired by a certain DC hero, a fact lampshaded by a thug saying he was beaten up by a guy dressed like Batman. Nicolas Cage plays the character in the manner of Adam West from the 1960s TV show and when they show Big Daddy’s backstory, they do it in the form of comic book panels.

Another Batman reference comes at the end with Red Mist quoting The Joker from the 1989 film Batman. The protagonist also says he looks like Wolverine while at one point another character talks about reading Scott Pilgrim.

The movie is decently faithful to the source material but takes a few liberties. In the film, Kick-Ass decides to become a superhero for idealistic reasons, but the comic version was just bored. Also, Big Daddy’s backstory of being a cop is actually made up in the graphic novels, but in the movie, it’s all true.

Kick-Ass is entertaining enough, but I've never had a desire to rewatch it. It was very profitable with a $96 million worldwide gross more than tripling its approximately $30 million budget. Reviews were positive and it got a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was originally a series of graphic novels written by Brian Lee O’Malley, released from 2004 to 2010. The film was directed by Edgar Wright, who first gained attention for the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead, and has also made Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, and most recently Baby Driver. Scott Pilgrim is his only film so far that was a financial disappointment.

The movie cost around $90 million to make, but only raked in $47 million worldwide. Obviously, this meant the film was considered a failure. It’s unfortunate because, like all of Edgar Wright’s work, it’s a really good movie. Part of the reason it didn’t do so well is that was released at the same time as The Expendables. Also, the over the top, video game-inspired style may have been off-putting for mainstream audiences, especially older people. The movie did get good reviews and it has an 82% at Rotten Tomatoes.

The original comic is excellent as well with a unique art style and this adaptation does a great job of capturing its feel and tone. A major difference between the two is the in the endings as the comic's was actually written after the script for the film was completed. Some subplots are excised and the time frame is compressed, but many plot points are taken directly from the source material and a lot of the characters stay true to their comic portrayals.


Jonah Hex was an abysmal failure based on the long-running DC character first seen in All-Star Western #10 in 1972. Warner Brothers originally hired the awful directing duo Neveldine and Taylor, famous for the Crank films among others, but they ended up leaving the project and just writing the script.

The director would be Jimmy Hayward, who has not made another live-action film to date, but has directed two animated features, Free Birds and Horton Hears a Who. The cast was pretty random with plenty of talented actors, like Josh Brolin in the title role, John Malkovich, Michael Shannon, and Michael Fassbender. But then were odd choices like Megan Fox, Wes Bentley, and Will Arnett. None of them embarrass themselves, but there's not much they could do with such a poorly written script.

The film was a massive flop, making only 10 million dollars on a $47 million budget. The critics were equally unimpressed as its Rotten Tomatoes score is only 12%, which makes this by far the most poorly reviewed comic book film of 2010.

Its main sin is just being boring but it also has lousy special effects and was nominated for two Razzies.

Jonah Hex's appearance is very similar to the source material, but he can bring people back to life, which isn't an ability he has in the comics. In fact, in most incarnations, he has no supernatural powers whatsoever.


Red was adapted from a miniseries published by the DC imprint Homage and created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer. Despite being under the DC umbrella, it was not produced by Warner Brothers, but rather Summit Entertainment. Red was directed by Robert Schwentke, who has also directed Flightplan, The Time Traveller’s Wife, and R.I.P.D., another comic adaptation. His movie is much more comedic than the source material.

It was critically successful, as the Rotten Tomatoes score is at 71%. Red also did very well financially, making almost $200 million. The excellent cast included Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich. Red is mildly entertaining but pretty standard and forgettable and I'd only recommend it to comic book movie completionists.


The Losers was based on a Vertigo comic book series that ran from 2003 to 2006. The movie starred 3 future cast members in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, and Zoe Saldana. It also featured Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who had just played The Comedian in Watchmen. This should have been a solid cast, but they are all wasted as the characters aren't very interesting.

The Losers was directed by Sylvain White, whose illustrious filmography includes gems like Stomp the Yard and I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer. The film has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 49%, but this is misleading in my opinion, as my feelings were strongly negative towards the film. It didn't do well financially either since it made less than $ 30 million on a modest $25 million budget.

It's full of annoying stylistic flourishes like freeze frames, a supposedly badass slow-mo hero walk of the main cast, and speed ramping as well as fake-looking visual effects. The editing is also irritating at times as it's way too fast and incoherent. Also, the antagonist is cartoonishly evil and silly and the plot and characters are generic at best.


Finally, we come to a French-language comic book adaptation called The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec. It was directed by Luc Besson, who also made The Professional, The Fifth Element, and the 2017 comic book movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The film was positively received, getting an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Follow me on Twitter at @KinoPravdaBlog or Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment