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Monday, November 18, 2013

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

IRON MAN 2


The biggest comic 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. However, 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 in my opinion, Cheadle is better suited for the role and reprised it again in Iron Man 3.


New to the franchise was Mickey Rourke  who appeared as the villain, Whiplash. Elements of the Iron Man enemy Crimson Dynamo were also included in the character. The filmmakers also used Justin Hammer as a villain. He’s played by Sam Rockwell and there’s 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. He’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 a whopping 623 million overall. 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. However, it did get an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects.


A common complaint has been that Iron Man 2 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 greater Marvel universe occurred in the post-credits scene, which involved Agent Coulson finding Thor’s hammer.




KICK-ASS
Kick-Ass was adapted from a comic by 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 movie contains tons of references to various comics.


The character of Big Daddy is clearly inspired by Batman, a fact lampshaded by a thug saying he was beat up by a guy dressed like Batman. Nicolas Cage plays the character in the manner of Adam West from the 1960s TV show. 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 main character 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 graphic novels, but in the movie it’s all true.




SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was originally a series of graphic novels written by Brian Lee O’Malley. They were released from 2004 to 2010. The film was directed by Edgar Wright. Wright first gained attention for the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead. He also made Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, and is scheduled to direct the 2015 MCU entry Ant-Man. 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 really a good movie. Part of the reason it didn’t do so well is that was released at the same time as The Expendables. The movie did get good reviews and it has a 82% at Rotten Tomatoes as of November 2013.



JONAH HEX


Jonah Hex was an abysmal failure based on the long running DC character. Warner Brothers originally considered the awful directing duo Neveldine and Taylor, famous for the Crank films among others. The director ended up being Jimmy Hayward, who has not directed another live action film to date. He has directed two animated features, Free Birds and Horton Hears a Who. Jonah Hex was played by Josh Brolin.


The film was a massive failure. It made only 10 million dollars on a $47 million budget. It’s Rotten Tomatoes score is only 12%.


In the film, Jonah Hex can bring people back to life and speak to them. He doesn’t have this ability in the comics.



RED


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


It was critically successful; the Rotten Tomatoes score is at 71%. Red also did very well financially, making almost $200 million. The cast included Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins, and John Malkovich.



THE LOSERS


The Losers was based on a Vertigo comic book series. The movie starred Chris Evans (Captain America and The Human Torch), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian in Watchmen), Idris Elba(Heimdall in Thor) and Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar.) It was directed by Sylvain White.

The Losers has a Rotten Tomatoes percentage of 49%.


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