Top 10 most mishandled comic book characters in film
|LISTS - MOVIE LISTS|
"Sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause what's a hero?"... It's probably not any of these.
All too often, fans of any genre of literature find that the characters they love don’t translate well to film. Sometimes changes to character or costume are necessary to keep it believable to filmgoers (even I had to accept that Wolverine’s yellow spandex and bat-mask wouldn’t do any X-Men movie any justice). More often than not, it’s because filmmakers either don’t know what to do with a character, or they have to bend to studio notes. While every comic book film has its share of characters that don’t fit how they’ve been written over the years, there are some that simply got screwed...
10: The Punisher
While the last two films at least made the effort to try to stay close to the source material, 1989’s The Punisher is nothing more than a low budget 80s action flick with a comic book title tacked on. And if you’re going into it thinking of it as nothing more than that, you’ll find it a 'guilty pleasure' sort of film. But the Dolph Lundgren vehicle bears little resemblance to the books. Lundgren wears black leather and doesn’t wear the classic skull we all recognize as The Punisher’s mark (the only time we see it is on the handle of a knife he’s stuck in a gangster). At least they went the extra mile and bought some black hair dye for him.
Comic writers and artists drew their heroes in spandex because its wearer is able to function easier when fighting the forces of evil (and not, as some naysayers out there would like to claim, because of homoeroticism on the part of fanboys – shame on you). But since the classic unitard doesn’t always look right onscreen, costumes get redesigned for film. But when you have a blind character that relies on his other senses to move about the city and needs to be as agile as possible, why on earth would you put him in leather? Ben Affleck’s acting aside, the costume is the biggest atrocity in this film (and that says a lot). It staggers the mind that the director thought the audience wouldn’t question why Murdock seems to walk stiffly in the costume, but his CGI counterpart can flip around fire escapes with the greatest of ease. Actually, about the only character in this whole film that was handled correctly was Foggy.
While the change to the character of Selena Kyle in Batman Returns was a bit of a slap in the face, we forgave it because Michelle Pfeiffer looked so good in her bodysuit. But no comic book fan could forgive anything about 2004’s Catwoman. Not only is Halle Berry unconvincing in the role, but the costume looks less like her comic book counterpart’s and more like something at an S&M shop. And not in a good way. I hope my faith in Christopher Nolan isn’t misplaced, and that he will finally do Ms. Kyle justice.
7: Sam & Twitch
Spawn isn’t exactly a great comic book film, but it was a milestone in that a comic book from a publisher outside of Marvel and DC could not only rake in huge sales, but also get Hollywood calling. The movie is less than faithful to the comic, but every major character in the books gets decent screen time. Everyone, except Sam and Twitch, two detectives that wind up involved in the comic’s events while investigating murders in Rat Alley, where Spawn has set up shop. They played a large role in HBO’s animated series, and even got a comic title of their own, but in the movie they get little more than a cameo, as they walk Jason Wynn to a police car. Creator Todd McFarlane has claimed that there will be another film – most likely a reboot – which will feature the two detectives in a more prominent role. Until then, we have the comics and the animated series.
In 1993, the creative staff behind Superman made the decision to do the unthinkable: Kill off the Man of Steel. After Supes’ fight with Doomsday, he lay dead at the hands of the Kryptonian monster (or so we thought). In the wake of his demise, four new “Supermen” arrived on the scene. One of those being Steel, who in real life was John Henry Irons, a one time weapons designer who became disenfranchised, faked his own death, and moved to Metropolis to work construction. During the fight, he was buried in rubble, only to crawl out determined to take on the mantle in Superman’s absence. He designed an armored suit and fought to get weapons he once designed off of the streets. How do you ruin a cool guy like that? Hire Shaquille O’Neal to play him. In the setting of the movie, there isn’t a Superman, and Shaq decides one day to fight gangs by building a suit of armor. Yup, just as bad as it sounds.
5: Judge Dredd
Another example of Hollywood taking a comic character and throwing them into an average action movie. Sylvester Stallone mumbles his way through this film as Dredd, one of the law enforcers known as Judges, who basically dole out justice as they see fit, without clogging up courts with trials and appeals. The film kept a lot from the comics, but omitted much of the trademark humor from the strip. The attempt to try to make the film more serious in tone was misplayed, and the film suffers for it. I only hope that the next film, Dredd, will learn from its predecessor’s mistakes (one big thing they have going for it is Karl Urban playing Dredd).
4: Nick Fury
No, I’m not one of those fanboys that sat whining about Marvel Studios using the Ultimate version of Fury and casting Samuel L. Jackson in the role (which was genius, I might add). I am referring to the casting of David Hasselhoff in the made-for-TV Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., a movie that almost makes Superman IV: The Quest for Peace look like a cinematic masterpiece (almost). The Hoff’s over-the-top performance is cringeworthy, and little resembles the character from the comics. He looks like he’d be more at place at a Village People concert than fighting HYDRA. Thankfully, no one opted for a sequel.
In the comics, Bane is a tortured soul, and a brilliant strategist. He spent most of his childhood and young adulthood in a Caribbean prison for his father’s crimes, only to have scientists place armor plating under his skin and dope him up with a mysterious drug called “Venom”, which gives him super strength. He ends up deducing who Batman is, and breaks his back (which led to the Azreal/Batman storyline). In Batman & Robin – universally considered the “Worst Comic Book Movie Ever” – Bane is a serial killer that is picked for an illegal experiment to test a drug to make super soldiers. Instead of being intelligent, he’s a thug, working with Poison Ivy. This was one example of writers using a character that looked cool but they had no idea what to do with them. Again, I place my faith in Nolan to do Bane justice in The Dark Knight Rises.
Wade Wilson, the “Merc with a Mouth”, is a former assassin-for-hire and recently has been seen trying to become a respected hero. He was given a healing factor in the Weapon X program, which unfortunately accelerated cancerous tumors he had, which spread over his body causing scar tissue and disfigurement. It also causes his brain cells to rapidly regenerate, which causes his mental instability. He talks to his inner monologue, and constantly breaks the fourth wall by referencing comics he appeared in, and even referring to his inner monologue as those “little yellow boxes”. While Ryan Reynolds should have made a great Deadpool, the script gave him little time to shine in the role. Then, instead of Wilson having cancer and wearing a mask, they sew his mouth shut and give him optic blasts, teleportation, technopathy, and two adamantium katana blades that come out of his arms like Wolverine’s claws. Less than stellar first film appearance. Rumors abounded that Reynolds would be in his own Deadpool film, and it would be closer in theme to the comic book character, but with his involvement in Green Lantern and its possible franchise, that may never happen.
The best Spider-Man villain in decades came about when Peter Parker rid himself of the symbiote suit and it joined with his rival, Eddie Brock. Eddie, a loser that blamed everyone else – in particular, Spider-Man – for his shortcomings. The symbiote drove him insane, and he became the murderous Venom. Sam Raimi caved in to studio pressure to include him in the lackluster Spider-Man 3, and Venom suffered for it. He was reduced to little more than a cameo, with everything that was crammed into that movie. The symbiote/black suit/Venom storyline could have padded two or three films, and that’s without subplots and other villains (and Gwen Stacy thrown in to complicate matters). Venom gets one really decent scene toward the end of the film, but it’s too little too late. It’s a lesson that I certainly hope was learned by the team behind the new Spider-Man franchise.
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