Friday, February 4, 2011

Comic Book Movies: I Don't Want A Carbon-Copy!

Let's get something straight:

Taking a comic-book and making an almost exact replica for screen is like communism;  It might make sense on paper, but in practice it sucks.

Now, I'm writing this article because over the next few articles I'm going to be talking quite a bit about comic-book adaptations.  I will be throwing out the term 'complete faithfulness' a whole lot.

What do I mean by 'complete faithfulness'?  I'm glad you asked!

Would this have made Spider-Man any better a movie?
When I say 'complete faithfulness' I'm talking about taking a concept from a comic and making an almost exact carbon-copy for the film adaptation.  Examples would be things along the lines of Wolverine's costume.  Yes, there were people that, when X-Men came out in 2000, were actually pissed that Wolverine wasn't wearing his classic yellow costume from the comics.  Another example might be Spider-Man's web-shooting ability.  For those unfamiliar, in the comic-books, Spider-Man doesn't shoot webbing from his own wrist like he did in the movies, he actually wears a piece of equipment on his arm that shoots the web out for him.  These would be examples of what I mean by 'complete faithfulness'.

My position on issues like these tend to make me rather unpopular with the hardcore comic-book fanboys of the world.  I am a member of the camp that claims that the movies need to be looked at as their own entities, and shouldn't be held to such constraints.

...That's not Deadpool
However, that's not to say that I'm in support of changing the core of a character.  There are film-makers out there that change every aspect of a character until it no longer resembles it's source material.  When that happens we get crap like Baraka-pool, and nobody wants to see a travesty like that happen again.  It may just be the greatest bastardization of a character in film history.

There's a fine line that must often be walked.

Let me walk you, dear reader, through one of the more memorable debates I've witnessed.

This isn't a debate that I had myself, but actually a debate that a friend of mine got into.  Oddly enough, that's the friend I am usually debating against.

At the surface, this may seem like a change to the core of the character.  I mean, Peter Parker has always been a little nerdy white boy from Queens, right?  While this may be true, it isn't the core of the character.  His race has nothing to do with how the character acts, or why he decides to fight crime as the web-slinger Spider-Man.  Peter Parker, as a character, was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962.  To have a Black super-hero at that point in time was not only unheard of, but would have been career suicide.  You don't have to like it, I certainly don't, but that's just the way it was.  The core theme of Spider-Man is 'with great power comes great responsibility.'  As long as he is a nerd who gets bitten by a radioactive spider and lives life by that credo, the core of the character is still there.

The man who could've been Spider-Man
It's no secret that I'm not a supporter of the Spider-Man reboot.  There are plenty of things about that project that I have issues with.  However, the only thing that did have me excited about the film was that they were considering the young, and talented, Donald Glover (a self-professed nerd) for the eponymous role of Spider-Man.  To me, this was a healthy change.  Not only would this help to set the new movie apart from Raimi's movies, but also it would just be an interesting change.  Of course, as most of us probably are aware, Glover didn't get the role.

I would have been curious to see who they got to play Peter's dear Uncle Ben.

For those who are still skeptical as to whether or not the Community star could have pulled off the required level of 'nerdosity' for Peter Parker, go check out the movie Mystery Team.  I do have to say, after seeing The Social Network, I'm confidant that Andrew Garfield will do a fine job in the role.  I just don't like the fact that their rebooting it on principle.

So what is it that I'm really trying to say?  That there's a very fine line that film-makers must walk when adapting a comic-book (or any other source material, really) for film.  I can't say that enough.

Look at some of the more successful superhero movies over the past few years; They've remained faithful to the character, but they weren't afraid to change aspects about the character to serve the film.  Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Nolan's Batman pictures: These are great examples of what a comic-book adaption can, and should, be.

So consider this a brief (if a bit disjointed) primer for the articles to come.

I'm sure I'll be pissing at least a few people off with my upcoming explanation of why Fantastic Four wasn't as bad a movie as you might think.