Can Hollywood really DO Comic Book movies properly?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Matthew Prince, Jul 16, 2004.

  1. Matthew Prince

    Matthew Prince Stunt Coordinator

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    From a similar post somwhere else... [​IMG]

    Do you think Hollywood can really DO most Comic Book movies justice? I'm worried that a lot of studios think it's nothing to buy the rights to (a) Marvel/D.C./Dark Horse comics character(s) and then put together some half-assed movie...

    Look at The Punisher (1989), reasonably entertaining, but kind of a joke to the fans. Then there's the 2004 version, which I haven't seen yet, but I'm hearing, is only slightly better.

    There was The Hulk last year, that was generally assumed by fans & critics to be a huge disappointment and Daredevil which was more of a vehicle for Ben Affleck and teaser for a sequel than anything else (the film was only 99 minutes!!).

    I'm just worried that Hollywood is going Comic Book crazy snapping up characters and not understanding them. I mean so far we have Ghost Rider, The Fantastic Four and Iron Man (?) lined up for future releases.

    Blade, X-Men 1 & 2 and Spider-Man are the only recent (in the last 15 years) comic book movies I can remember being done justice. And that's because there was a pride and commitment to those characters. Not to mention respect for the fans, healthy $$$ budgets and quality actors, directors and special effects.

    Always remember that this type of popularity comes in waves!

    For Hollywood in the '90s it was adapting old TV shows like Mission: Impossible to the big screen, in the 80s it was family adventure movies like Indiana Jones and Back To The Future (but at least they were original) and teen Horror movies (Jason, Freddy, Halloween, etc) and in the '70s it was pushing the boundaries (and testing movie execs' nerves [​IMG]) with sex, nudity, violence & humour...

    You get my point...
     
  2. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    You answered your own question that you posed in the title.
     
  3. Moe Maishlish

    Moe Maishlish Supporting Actor

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    Comic Books have always been ripe for adaptation to the screen (be it small-screen or silver-screen). The allure is to the modern mythology that they represent, and the appealing characters that they portray.

    The problem is when you have a production team who is more focused on the dollar-$ign$ than creating a faithful adaptation. This can be seen time & time again... good characters who are butchered to make them more consumer-friendly in the hopes that they'll sell more toys, t-shirts, and happy meals.

    Most high-up's at the studios have little knowledge of the characters that they're licensing. The general attitude is "the character will sell themselves", and that the writers & production team are a secondary matter to the project.

    With Superman 1, the Salkinds were less interested in making a comic book movie than they were in making boatloads of cash. Frankly, they got LUCKY with the production team & actors that got involved in the first movie. You can really see the attitude that they had with the franchise though with their treatment of Donner on the 2nd film, and the subsequent sequels... straight down the toilet.

    The same can be said for the Batman "Franchise". The first film was passable, but was a marketing machine. The franchise soon turned into a swirling mass of sewage that sunk the franchise under it's own weight.

    I honestly believe that if you hire talented writers who are familiar with the characters (i.e. they don't LOVE them, but know of their histories), then the first steps toward a good movie have been achieved. The next step is hiring a competent director who is more interested in producing a good movie than adding a "genre" film to their resume (a mistake I believe Ang Lee fell into with HULK), followed by actors who are familiar enough with the characters (or are willing to become familiar with them) such that they can accurately portray them onscreen.

    There's a lot more, but I'll stop here before I start venting. [​IMG]

    Moe.
     
  4. Julio H

    Julio H Agent

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    Well, yeah. Is this another "Hollywood Industry Sucks" thread?
     
  5. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    THere have been plenty of good comic movies. I think the question is whether Warner can make a good comic book movie based on one of their own properties.
     
  6. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Assuming we're only talking live-action, I enjoyed:

    Blade
    Blade 2
    Daredevil
    From Hell
    Road to Perdition
    Spider-Man
    Spider-Man 2
    X-Men
    X-Men United

    Did Not Enjoy:

    The Hulk
    The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

    Have Not Seen:

    Hellboy
    The Punisher (2004)
     
  7. Andrew Priest

    Andrew Priest Stunt Coordinator

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    Sometimes I think that the Japanese have it right. That animation is the natural format to translate comics into motion. After all, is not animation practically a comic in motion? Many of the comic elements which seem cartoony or simply too over the top in live action work just fine in animation. The Hulk vs. the giant dogs fight for example would have been just fine animated. With animation many of the movie issues just aren't issues at all.

    Not that live action can't work. I've seen many comic movies that I've thoroughly enjoyed. But I believe that by its very nature there is going to be a limit to how close a movie can be to the original comic, and that animation could get it closer. It's even possible for the animation to mimic the original art style or styles in question which is at best extremely difficult in live action. Perhaps the key differences between live action and comics, as well as between movie and serial, are a part of the problem.
     
  8. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Well, let's not forget that the Japanese comic industry and the American one are fairly different; the corporate character which is passed between a series of creators is not the standard that it is with American comics. By the time an American comic is filmed, it's already the work of many hands, who have all contributed something new (and often contradictory). Part of what I like about many American comic-book movies is that they are not slavish adaptations. I like that Ang Lee's Hulk is somewhat different form Stan Lee's, Bruce Jones's, Peter David's, or Mark Millar's.

    Also, I'm not so sure that Japanese comics tending to be animated rather than shot live-action is an artistic choice rather than one borne of necessity. If Otomo had a 200M+ person potential audience, a live-action Akira may have been a more reasonable consideration. With the cost of making an effects-filled live-action movie coming down in Japan (at least relative to making a decent-looking animated film), I imagine we'll be seeing more productions like Kitamura's Azumi adaptation.
     
  9. DaveButcher

    DaveButcher Stunt Coordinator

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    No love for Ghost World? A great comic-book adaptation or are we just talking superhero comics?
     
  10. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    "Sometimes I think that the Japanese have it right. That animation is the natural format to translate comics into motion. After all, is not animation practically a comic in motion? Many of the comic elements which seem cartoony or simply too over the top in live action work just fine in animation. The Hulk vs. the giant dogs fight for example would have been just fine animated. With animation many of the movie issues just aren't issues at all."

    I think the issue is that animation is a caricature of life, not the real thing. I suppose comics fall into the same category -- they are not "real", they are caricatures of the world. That's why making a live action adaptation of a comic book or a cartoon is inherently problematic. In my opinion, the films that succeed the most are the ones that do not try to create on-screen the wild caricatures of the comics. Instead, they find their own ways and own methods to express the fantasy of their subject. They do not try to "film the comic", they start with the real world as a template, and try to bring the comic to the real world, not the other way around. I think that's the right approach, and films like Superman, Spider-Man 2, X-Men, etc., seem to bear this out. Richard Donner called it "verisimilitude", and it is an approach to fantasy filmmaking that not only works for comics, but for all fantasy films -- Lord of the Rings being a good recent example.
     
  11. Rob Bartlett

    Rob Bartlett Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, considering it wasn't a Hollywood production, the question may not apply.

    I think we often forget comic book companies can screw up their own creations. Remember The Spider-Clones saga? Superman turning blue? Mishandling has gone all the way back to the sixities, including stripping Wonder Woman of her powers and giving the Hulk the ability to fly!

    I think for the most part, comic book movies in the last six years or so have genrally been ok, some a lot better then others, but a lack of major embarrassments. In fact, I think Daredevil has only gained so much notierity because it was the same year Affleck's Gigli was released.
     
  12. Don Solosan

    Don Solosan Supporting Actor

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    I would add The Crow to that list.

    But NOT the sequels!
     
  13. Jose Martinez

    Jose Martinez Screenwriter

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    Well, if the rumors are true about Jack Black signed to play the Green Lantern, then no.
     
  14. Pete-D

    Pete-D Screenwriter

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    I thought Burton's BATMAN (1989) was great, and probably even better than either of the Spidey flicks.

    Batman
    Dick Tracy (I really think this one is underrated)
    X1
    X2
    Spidey 1
    Spidey 2
    Blade


    I think generally rank high, while there's the middle "ground" of

    Batman Returns
    Batman Forever
    Blade II
    The Hulk
    Daredevil
    Hell Boy

    Which are great to dissapointing depending on who you talk to, but they're all still watchable.

    Batman & Robin
    Captain America
    Judge Dredd
    Spawn
    The Punisher (Dolph Lundgren)
    The Phantom

    Would be the "embarassing" section.

    My favorite comic book films are Batman (1989) and Dick Tracy. Does "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" count? I haven't seen the first one in ages, but that was wildly well recieved when it came out in 1990.

    SPAWN is something that is going to be redone and deserves to be redone because it could really be a phenomenonal movie franchise IMO. The HBO animated series was fantastic.
     
  15. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Oh god my Mt.Dew just shot out my nose. [​IMG] I would kill my grandmother to watch a Jack Black superhero movie.

    And don't forget Orgazmo was also a good comic-book movie. (now wheres the DVD??)
     
  16. Todd Terwilliger

    Todd Terwilliger Screenwriter

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    I think Hollywood can do it. Although I'm still waiting for a truly epic superhero showdown. I think Superman 2 came closest. So did Spiderman 2.
     
  17. Andrew Kain

    Andrew Kain Agent

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    Blade and X Men are good.
     
  18. Moe Maishlish

    Moe Maishlish Supporting Actor

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    Hey Garrett...

    Hands off Grandma!!! [​IMG]

    Actually we've been discussing this in another thread devoted to the topic. The original choice (rumored at least) was Adam Sandler, but it's now rumored to be Jack Black. Either way, I personally think this is a TERRIBLE decision!

    Why make a serious superhero into a comedic cutout? If you want to make a funny Superhero movie, make one about a funny superhero (Plastic Man, for example), but stay away from the classic characters.

    The classic characters (Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, etc.) need to be protected by Warner from producers who have some kind of pet idea that they want to experiment with in the medium of comics. If they're so desperate to make a "funny" movie, and can't get their hands on an established character, then they can go the route of Damon Wayans and create their own (Blankman in Wayans' case) and spoof all they like. Just don't destroy a potentially lucrative & rewarding franchise to fulfill the need for ego-masterbation like WB is doing with Green Lantern.

    Moe.
     
  19. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    Here's the "Comic Book Movies" that I think that Hollywood has done a great job on:

    Superman
    Superman II

    Batman
    Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (It *did* have an initial theatrical release, ya' know.)

    Adventures in Babysitting (The Mighty Thor made an appearance!)

    Blade
    Blade II

    X-Men
    X2

    Spider-Man
    Spider-Man II


    And that's about it, I'm afraid! There *have* been quite a few "comic-book style" movies, though! Of those, I would toss in John Ritter's "Hero at Large" (where's the DVD?) and a case could definitely be made for Buckaroo Banzai.

    Personally, I'm really looking forward to "The Fantastic Four" (Hope springs eternal, after all!). And I think "Iron Man" *could* be big. (Think "Six Million Dollar Man", except the hero is a normal person when he's not in the suit.)

    Perhaps the best films made about comic book heroes lies just around the corner!
     
  20. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    I'd say yes,

    The Crow
    X-Men 1 & 2
    Blade
    Batman
    Batman Returns


    Ghost World being my favorite, although doesn't really apply specifically to the topic question.
     

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