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Sunday, October 20, 2013

EDITORIAL: Top 5 Worst Comic Book Adaptions in Film

Hello SMN junkies! It has been almost a month to the day from when I wrote my Editorial about the "Top 5 Greatest Comic Book Adaptions in Film" which included Watchmen, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Batman Begins, "Spider-Man No More!" (as seen in Spider-Man 2), and Wolverine from the X-Men film franchise.

At the end of the article you may remember that I promised a sequel article where I would give my opinions on the "Top 5 Worst Comic Book Adaptions in Film". Well, in that time I have been very busy... Arrow has come back on air which means I was back at to host Longbow Hunters: The Arrow Podcast (one of the top rated Arrow podcasts out there!) and I had already been busy covering Beware the Batman, Trinity War, Forever Evil, Zero Year, Smallville Season 11, and much more over on the DC Nation Podcast! Along with that I have been reviewing books like Smallville: Titans, Batman/Superman, and now onto Justice League for the Superman Homepage. And finally, I was given the opportunity by SMN Editor-in-Chief Caleb Williams to be able to write an EXCLUSIVE on the leaked Justice League: Mortal script, which was both time consuming and exciting!

So as you can all imagine, I have been keeping busy. But now I am back and I'm here to stay as I bring you today my Top 5 WORST Comic Book Adaptions in Film...


5. Catwoman from Catwoman

Meet Patience Phillips, artist and graphic designer for a cosmetic company that, get this, has a skin cream line that reverses the effects of aging...

First off let me be honest and perrrrfectly clear here: I have NEVER seen this film. There were two "big" comic book films that I have always been able to claim that I have never seen. The first was Ang Lee's Hulk, which I actually did end up seeing last spring and surprisingly enjoyed; and the second is Catwoman

Catwoman was originally a Batman Returns spin-off (based on the end of Batman returns it makes sense, does it not?) which was originally going to have Selina Kyle return to the big screen in her own solo adventure. Well... Not so much. After Tim Burton left the project, it went in development hell... This film is a product of being in development hell way too long.

"But wait Michael," you ask, "if you have never seen this film then how can it be on your list? On your last editorial you said that films you hadn't seen wouldn't be included on your lists!" Very true. That is what I said and I stick to it... With one exception. I have read more about the Catwoman film than is probably healthy, therefore I have basically seen the film without seeing it. Think Daredevil.

Anyway, this version of Catwoman is first off NOT Selina Kyle. Whether you like the straight up villain version of Catwoman seen in Batman Returns or the anti-hero character who redeems herself as seen in The Dark Knight Rises be warned that this version is neither of those and is like nothing you have seen before. This version was brought back to life by an Egyptian Mau cat. Yes, that's right, a cat brings her back to life in a way that more ridiculous than Batman Returns...

Overall, this character is not the Catwoman that we have known and loved since 1940's Batman #1, in fact this character is a complete and total rip-off of the Catwoman character. Hell, they don't even mention Batman!

4. Galactus

I don't care what you say, if that thing is coming at you, there's no way you're stopping it unless you are a Green Lantern. You're just not. I guess the writers of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer took that whole "Galactus is a force of nature" thing way to literally...

To be fair, it would have been odd or even dumb to put Galactus in this film as he is in the comics. I mean, a giant man with a purple helmet on his head eating planets? It does sound kinda dumb on paper. Nevertheless, Galactus made his fist (and probably last...) live-action appearance here in this film.

So why is this on the "Worst Comic Book Adaptions in Film" list? Well, it's on the list because it's just bad. Nothing about this character in the film screamed Galactus to me, nothing, and furthermore, he never talks! How would he ever get Norin Radd, the Silver Surfer, to become his herald if he can't even ask him the simple question. In fact, Galactus in this movie isn't even a "he", it's an "it" and if Doctor Doom proved anything at all in this film, it's that its power can be easily hijacked and used for ones own purpose.

Now, Galactus isn't nearly my favorite comic book character, or even at all my favorite villain, but he is a character I have always enjoyed in the Marvel Universe and I wish that he would have been better portrayed, especially when I thought Silver Surfer was done so well. Here, Galactus is just a space cloud that keeps getting bigger with the more planets it destroys, nothing more and nothing less. But I'm telling you, Silver Surfer should NOT have been able to defeat that thing... I mean look at how big it is!

3. Deadpool

"Ah yes we have to include Deadpool! The merc with a... Wait what? Oh, we're sewing his mouth shut? Oh okay, that makes PERFECT sense!"

I wonder if that's the conversation that was had over at FOX when they discussed making Deadpool into Barakapool in the third act of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. If I'm going to be completely honest with you guys, I actually do enjoy the movie. There's a lot of it that I personally would have taken out, but as a film adaption of Wolverine's origin, I think it stacks up pretty well and the idea that Wolverine and Sabretooth were brothers always was exciting to me.

That being said, Wade Wilson aka Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, was a cool character in the film and had some pretty funny lines, in the two scenes that he was in... 

Barakapool however, not so much. Not only did they sew Deadpool's mouth shut, but they put some... Extra superpowers in him. Cyclops' optic blasts, Kestrel's teleportation, Maverick's technopathy, Wolverine's healing factor (something Deadpool has in the comics already), and of course the two swords that they magically fit inside his arms like Wolverine's claws until they pop out... Riiiight.

There's really not much more I have to say after even saying that they sewed his mouth shut, but the fact that they gave him other abilities and made him more of a controlled weapon than what Deadpool really is (is there a name for it?) gets a lot of fans mad and upset.

We all hope that one day Deadpool will get his own film and that he'll look back on this one and see that it was a mistake, but until then, this is the ONLY live-action Deadpool we're gonna get... How sad is that?

2. X-Men: The Last Stand

Now here is a movie that everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE could live without... X-Men: The Last Stand.

We all know what happened with this movie. Bryan Singer left X3 to go work on Superman Returns, which I can't honestly blame him as if I had the choice between Superman and X-Men it would be Superman every time. However, it gets worse as James Marsden (who played Scott Summers/Cyclops) left with him to play a character in the film that everyone hated, therefore they killed Cyclops in this film.

Like I said above, I don't blame Singer for leaving X-Men for Superman, because I also would have, but I do wish he would have stayed. Say what you want about Singer, but the first two X-Men films were great (and I enjoy Superman Returns to an extent as well), which is why I'm so excited that he will be returning for the X3/First Class sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past!

Besides Cyclops being killed in the film (he's my favorite X-Man), there are a lot of other problems with X-Men: The Last Stand, mainly that they tried to combine two of the best X-Men stories of all time into one single arc, and it failed miserably. 

Elements from Joss Whedon's "Gifted" from Astonishing X-Men ("the Cure" arc) and Chris Claremont's "The Dark Phoenix Saga" from Uncanny X-Men were used as the basis and foundation of this film. So what went wrong?

Jean Grey in this film was a mess. Not only was the Phoenix NOT a separate entity from Jean, but she was just a dark version of Jean lying dormant until the time came. Plus, Jean kills both Scott AND Professor X in this film, which is also something that did not happen in the comics and hurt the movie exponentially.

Not only that, but Phoenix is easily brought into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants by Magneto when it's said earlier in the film that the Phoenix could not be controlled... Oh and Mystique is "cured" of her mutant abilities and is completely rejected by Magneto once it happens. And Juggernaut is a mutant now and no longer Professor X's half-brother! Cool right!

Then there's the arc about the Cure. The Mutant Cure was also brought about in the comics and it actually wasn't terribly done in this film, but it really had no purpose and the film could have easily been the same had the Cure not even been involved. 

One other thing that bugged me about this film is that all of the original X-Men were in it at one point or another (Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey, Angel, and Iceman) and almost none of them ever interact. Now, they were not the original team in the movie's continuity, but even so, it's a little annoying. Oh, and don't let promotional posters fool you, Angel never actually becomes an X-Man, uses his codename, or wears his uniform. That was all to get you into the theaters...

1. Batman & Robin

As a kid in the mid to late 90's, I was obsessed with Batman. I watched Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond from age two on (I was born in 1995, the same year Batman Forever came out) and when I went to the store with my mother, I always asked for Batman toys, mainly from the Animated Series or Batman & Robin. By 2000 I had more Batman toys then most of my 5 year old friends and by 2002 I had gone back and watched as may of the Batman films as I could, yes including Batman & Robin.

Batman & Robin was made for kids. As I kid I loved it and looking back on it now when I watch the film I'm able to at least enjoy it in the same vein that I enjoy the 1960's Batman TV series/Batman: The Movie. But I digress...

Batman & Robin is, pardon my French, a complete bastardization of the Batman universe, or at least the one that existed at that time. Not only was Batman humorous (Bat-cred card? Really?), but Robin (who dressed like Nightwing by the way, cool outfit) was a complete spas! In the film, Robin is just madly in love with Poison Ivy which ultimately gets him in trouble. He also thinks he's Batman in the film and begins to have a falling-out with Bruce (much like the two did on Batman: The Animated Series, although far less believable). 

Not only were Batman and Robin off as characters the entire film, but their supporting cast wasn't any better...

Poison Ivy starts off as a crazy plant lady and actually comes back from the dead as a humanoid plant. Now, I can't argue much with the plant part because that has been comics canon, but the fact that she literally dies and then is just "reborn" because the Earth wanted her to come back is a little much for me. Not to mention that the entire film all she does is pit Batman & Robin against each other and kill a few guards... 

Then there's Arnold playing Mr. Freeze... Now, I love the Terminator as much as the next guy, but this was terrible casting. Not only did Freeze never feel like a cold scientist who wanted to save his wife, but I never actually felt bad for the guy! This film would have done so much better had they written out Poison Ivy and written Freeze more like his comics/animated counterpart.

Speaking of characters that should have been written out, the not-daughter of Jim Gordon who is actually Alfred's niece Barbara, get this, Wilson! First off, if her first name is Barbara and she becomes Batgirl but she's not Commissioner Gordon's daughter, then I don't care. I just don't.

"Suit me up Uncle Alfred."

I mean, come on! Really? I have no problem with Alfred having a niece or a goddaughter or anything like that (i.e. Katana on Beware the Batman, which is awesome!), but the fact that they take this character who is literally defined by her relation to her father and turn her into something that's almost completely unrecognizable is unacceptable. 

Bat-nipples. Nuff said.

Then there's Bane. The one thing I wish The Dark Knight Rises had done with Bane is that they would have given him Venom. Now, they kind of did with the fluid running through his mask, but he wasn't nearly as strong as comics Bane. However, they got his personality and mission (overall) right and that's all that matters. Bane here, outside of superpowers and costume (which are BOTH spot-on!), is more like the Hulk then Bane. He's not ruthless, he's not menacing, he's not scary, he's not evil, he's just a pawn that is used for the heavy lifting and for throwing people. That's it. He didn't break Batman, he didn't take over Gotham, he didn't set the Arkham inmates free, he just did what Ivy or Freeze (Adam and Evil) told him to do!

Also, why did Freeze want to freeze Gotham again? Was that ever actually explained?

Ultimately, Batman & Robin failed as a Batman movie and a fourth film in an Anthology in almost every regard, but still, it is kinda fun to watch. At least it gave us Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero which is a fantastic movie and does Mr. Freeze, Batgirl, and the Dynamic Duo justice.

(Dis)Honorable Mentions: The Mandarin, Spider-Man 3, Superman's son in Superman Returns, "Brainiac" in Superman III, Don Blake in Thor, Parallax from Green Lantern, Elektra, and Harvey Dent from Batman.

Michael J. Petty

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Senior Editorial Editor on SMN, I also work as an Administrator on Across the Airwaves Productions and as a Staff Writer on the Superman Homepage. I enjoy movies, comics, television, music, and long walks on the beach. Just because he's on the side of the angels, don't think for one second that he's one of them.