Wanted and Other Egregious Comic Book to Movie Changes” width=”560″/>
Nick Nadel’s Tuesday column examines the increasingly busy intersection between comic books and the movies.
Were you thrilled by Wanted‘s “
fraternity angle — not to mention the transformation of African-American character, Fox, into Angelina
Jolie. It certainly isn’t the first time filmmakers have
tailored comic book storylines for mainstream consumption. (And it won’t be the last.) Let’s take a look at some of the more
egregious changes made in the jump from comic book page-to-screen.
Tim Burton’s first Batman outing gets so much right that it’s easy to excuse its
flaws. But fans can’t forgive one glaring error: Joker killing
Batman’s parents. Sure, the purple one has done a lot of bad things in his time, but
let’s not saddle him with this much baggage. Batman Begins
corrected this misstep by crediting the creation of Batman to the
real culprit (random thug Joe Chill) and also set up Joker as Batman’s
fans are still reeling from the film’s most
fundamental change — organic web-shooters. In the comics, Peter Parker
built his web shooters with good old fashioned science geek know-how.
The first film jettisoned this element of Spidey’s origin, allowing him
to project webs from his skin in order to make the character
more “realistic.” Unfortunately, the comics followed suit,
making Peter’s webbing organic for a time. Lately Spidey’s
web-shooters have gone old school, though the subject is still a matter
of intense debate in geek circles.
Besides the aforementioned lack of supervillains, Wanted
also made major changes to the comic book’s cast.
Creators Mark Millar and J.G. Jones patterned Wesley
Gibson and Fox after Eminem and Halle Berry, respectively, in order to
attract the stars to a film adaptation. (Unsurprisingly, this
move only served to anger Eminem.) Though the film did retain the
audience-alienating tone, it dropped fundamental leads Mr. Rictus (a
parody of The Joker), Professor Solomon (Dr. Sivana meets Lex
Luthor), and several other characters patterned after famous comic
book baddies. Rumor has it Millar is penning a sequel and considering (SPOILER ALERT!) pretty much every
character gets killed off by the end, its safe to say we’ll be seeing a brand
new cast for the next outing. And maybe supervillains this time?
Producer Kenneth Johnson claimed that the change
from “Bruce” to “David” Banner in the Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno
TV series was made in order to distance the show from the
comics. Hulk co-creator Stan Lee later revealed that the name
change occurred because the network didn’t think the name “Bruce” was manly enough. As for changes in the Ang Lee film? Well, let’s just say
Hulk never tussled with mutant poodles.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
In order to make Alan Moore’s (Watchmen, V for
comic book more accessible to American audiences, the
filmmakers added Tom Sawyer to the team of Victorian-era literary
characters. (Sawyer makes only a brief cameo in the comics.) The
end result caused Sean Connery to quit the movie business entirely —
and Alan Moore to distance himself from future adaptations of his
Punisher (1989 and 2004)
For both Punisher outings, the
filmmakers insisted on dropping the war vet angle, turning Frank Castle into a cop and FBI agent, respectively. Granted, his
Vietnam-era origin could stand to be updated — he’s the only
gun-toting vigilante currently eligible for Medicare — but why must
every Punisher film be a glorified Dirty Harry retread? If the team behind the
upcoming Punisher: War Zone wants to please fans, they should at
least make Castle a Desert Storm vet.
Remember this one? Keanu fights demons? Sorta decent, right? Well, it’s based on a ground-breaking comic
book called Hellblazer. (John Constantine is the name of the lead
character.) “Hellblazer” is an infinitely cooler title, don’t you think? Also,
another little difference between the comic and the film: Constantine
is British and blond — the character’s look was inspired by
Finally, in the thousands of pages of Judge Dredd comics
produced over the years, nowhere is there one single appearance by Rob
When not writing, Nick
Nadel is in line at the comic book store alongside the other geeks, er,
fans of speculative fiction. His most prized possession is a 1960s
Batman comic wherein
the Dynamic Duo are trapped inside a fortune cookie factory. He lives
in Brooklyn and updates his aptly named website (nicknadel.com) with comedy writing and videos.