The Nerds of the Roundtable have seen a lot of comics on the big screen. Here are some of their favorites!
In Outhouse Roundtable, Royal Nonesuch gathers the writing staff of The Outhouse to find out where they stand in the landscape of comic book fandom. The formula is simple: one question, a joyous multitude of answers.
Week 9: What are your favorite works (film, television, novelizations, etc.) adapted from comics?
I really enjoyed the film adaptation of Harvey Pekar's American Splendor. It was a great way to bring Pekar's work, and by extension his life, into the realm of sound and motion. I really loved the post-modern effect of bringing the real Harvey, and his friends and family into the film itself to share some cake (as well as get interviewed by directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini throughout the film). But it was the sensitive portrayal of Harvey by Paul Giamatti (still his best performance to date) as well as Hope Davis' Joyce Brabner that made the movie so engaging.
I also really liked The Dark Knight and the first two Spider-Man films, as well as Tim Burton's first Batman flick.
I'm fairly undemanding when it comes to comics adaptations, I'm not one of those fans who demands 100% accuracy and fidelity to the source material. As long as it's recognisable as Batman or Spider-Man, I'm grand. So I love all the Spidey movies, the first 2 Superman movies, the Nolan Bat-movies, the X-Movies (even X3) and the current spate of Marvel 'Avengers Franchise' movies are just amazing.
But I think my favourite adaptation may actually be Kick-Ass, because it improved on the original comics. Whilst I like Millar and Romita's book, there's a mean, nihilistic streak that runs through it that is replaced with something a little less cynical in the movie. The movie is just a lot more fun, and makes Dave Lizewski and Big Daddy less pathetic. I like both versions of the story, but the movie is the one I'd be more likely to revisit.
And you have to mention the various 'Timmverse' DC cartoons, beginning with the best interpretation of Batman ever, through to Superman, Justice League Unlimited and Batman Beyond, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Dwayne McDuffie created a DCU that's in many ways better than the one in the comics. Their recent spate of feature-length adaptations are also fantastic, particularly All-Star Superman. I also like the non-Timm cartoons, Teen Titans and Young Justice are great. Marvel's cartoons are less good, but I really enjoyed Spectacular Spider-Man.
Road to Perdition is one of my favorite adaptations. Here's why: It's Paul Newman's last great performance, and it's an unflinching portrayal of an old Irish mob boss, John Rooney. Yes, Rooney dresses well and he lives well and, like any half-intelligent Irishman, he has a gift for the gab. But deep down, below all the charm and wit, is a soulless gangster.
Newman had a fifty-year career in Hollywood playing various antiheroes, from Fast Eddie Felson and Cool Hand Luke to Butch Cassidy and Frank Galvin. He played straight-up bad guys infrequently, by comparison, but he did play two particularly memorable villains -- first, early in his career as the title character in Hud and, second, at the end of his career as Rooney. They are very different types of villains. And yet they share something in common: Newman plays with the audience, at times encouraging -- perhaps persuading -- viewers to look past all the hate and evil of these characters and to focus instead on their charisma. He manipulates the audience into liking his villains, if only momentarily. And this manipulation helps us understand why these villains, Rooney in particular, are so good at duping and ultimately backstabbing people. Newman shows us why Rooney, a tired old man, very near the end of his life and career, can remain on top in such a cutthroat world.
Any source material that can inspire such an excellent performance deserves much praise. That's why I consider Road to Perdition a top comic book adaptation.
I'm going with Blade 1. It launched the successful comic book movie phenom and re-imagined a character that was short of a Luke Cage with a pointy stick knock off visually. Not to mention the constant confusing origins and whether or not Blade is half white. If the comics could get a clue from the movie franchise it'd help.
300 - it literally was the comic book set in live action. Scene for scene it was panel for panel.
Written or Contributed by: Royal Nonesuch