With Hollywood’s head turned firmly towards the comic book universe, and its seemingly limitless offer of fan money, it is inevitable that the men in charge of the coffers will continue to throw money at projects like Iron Man 3, Ant-Man and Thor.
It is a sorry characteristic of the way the film industry works that film execs and optioners seem more interested in endlessly rebooting the more familiar franchises and properties: We already have new takes on X-Men, Spider-Man and Superman coming up despite the fact that each has been given at least one film treatment in only the last five years. Fact is, audiences will flock to see all three of the new reboots, as well as further editions to the current Batman and Wolverine film runs, usually to the detriment of newer adaptations.
Perhaps its due to familiarity, or the presumption that new means somehow less good (look at the comparatively muted response to the excellent Kick-Ass). That audience trend means that the film execs are less likely to give a new project the attention it deserves, and the focus it needs to be really stand-out, and thus closes the vicious cycle that predetermines which comics get chosen for the adaptation treatment.
Fear not, for I am here to try and change that trend, by introducing any film execs reading this (in all likelihood not many) to the ten comics that in an ideal world I would love to see as movies or TV shows, and that includes projects that are now in production, aas long as they aren’t due to be released this year, in no particular order. You may notice that most of them are pretty original concepts, so how far they’d ever get in Hollywood remains to be seen…So here goes, with a few casting calls thrown in for good measure…
Yet another post-Superhero comic from the living legend that is Garth Ennis, which features one of the funniest story-lines I have ever had the pleasure of reading, concerning the Tech Knight (a thinly veiled Batman figure) and his unfortunate carnal compulsions. Like the exceptional Powers (see below), The Boys is clearly borne out of the same question that Alan Moore’s Watchmen introduced to the comic book world en masse- Who Is Watching The Watchmen? The Boys’ arcs focus on delinquent superhero activity in a world in which superheroes have become pretty much untouchable, and a team of supers who bring them to justice in their own inimitable way (intimidation and annihilation usually).
The reason it would work so well as a film is the way the story is told – from the perspective of an outsider- Wee Hughie- invited into the group when his girlfriend becomes collateral damage at the hands of a wayward supe. Oh and it’s brutally violent and deliciously vulgar, which is always a good thing.
Casting would at least partly sort itself out, since one of the characters is based on Simon Pegg, but I can’t shake the idea of Vinnie Jones as head of The Boys Billy Butcher. He may not exactly be Laurence Olivier, but he would inject enough knowing humour into the role to make it work, and he has the physical presence.
Old Man Logan
I can’t be the only one who is completely underwhelmed by the idea of what will essentially be a second origin story for Wolverine, even though the Japanese story-line is pretty entertaining, because I get the feeling that every Wolverine Origins movie will inevitably have to end with his memory being erased again, before resetting for the next film, which isn’t the best way to ingratiate an audience.
Rather than continue the same story-line too far, I would love to see a film-maker step in with the balls to make something as cool and unique as Old Man Logan, set some fifty or sixty years in the future when a coup by the united force of Super-villains has rid the world of most heroes. Logan lives in hiding, retired from being a hero thanks to an incredibly well conceived secret (revealed by flashback, and potentially the most emotional Wolverine story-arc ever to given screen treatment), until he is compelled to join the resistance. Brilliant.
I chewed long and hard over which Batman story-arc I would love to see on-screen, and settled on the excellent Hush. Obviously this is a fantasy case only, since the story requires an awful lot of back-story that we haven’t yet been introduced to in the current story-arcs, but who is to say that Hush wouldnt represent a grand enough narrative event to announce the post-Nolan Batman era?
Following Tony Chu- an FDA cibopath (he detects psychic impressions from whatever he eats) as he eats his way to solving a number of food related crimes in a future in which chicken is illegal following a bird flu epidemic killed 23 million Americans. Excellent concept, and the characters are incredible, especially Mason Savoy, Chu’s first cibopath FDA partner.
Oh, and I’d love to see John Cho in the lead (and not just because of the name similarities).
Superman: Red Son
In an ideal world, the upcoming Superman movie wouldn’t be a pubescent reboot focusing on how Superman found himself: the cold, plain facts are that Superman is not as compelling a character as many of his darker stable-mates, and like Captain America, the pleasure in his stories is his untouchable status. I want to see him burn things with his eyes, smash through things and be generally invulnerable, I don’t want to see him travelling across America, back-packing his way to self-discovery: you’re a fucking demi-God for Christ’s sake, and everyone knows your origin story!
Why can’t the film-makers trust audiences to know enough about Superman to make a film with a richer, more complex plot that doesn’t involve any origin plot?
Even more ideally, the comic book film universe would take a lead from the comic book world itself and not be scared to stray into the multiverse to find a good story. The reason for such a suggestion? Well the best alternate Superman story is Red Son – based on the ingenious premise that in an alternate reality, Superman was brought up in Soviet Russia, and became a tool of the Communist State, rather than an adopted All-American goody-two-shoes.
Another excellent original concept, teaming up the children of a Supervillain group to vanquish their parents and atone for their sins by continuing to fight crime. The first story-arc in which the children learn the secret of their parents’ malevolence, and then subsequently each discover that they have inherited powers of their own would work particularly well as a movie, given the character genesis involved, and the great potential it would offer as a compelling ensemble project.
That’s probably why an adaptation has been mooted since 2008, though little has been uncovered in the meantime in the way of new information, so whether it’s stuck in Development Hell or not is hard to tell at the minute. But with original creator Brian K Vaughan apparently still attached there must be some chance that the film will happen, and even better that it might well be worth the wait.
Already supposedly in production, although again news seems to have cooled on the project significantly recently, which isn’t all that surprising, considering how difficult it would be to translate Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba’s fucking bonkers comic to the screen (though with Alfonso Cuaron linked it would at least be an intriguing attempt). It would probably take an inordinate amount of CGI, and some very strong general VFX work to make the characters believable and their relationships with their environments seamless (which is always my chief concern with such approaches), but done properly, what a prospect!
This choice came out of one of those nerdgastic conversations I tend to have with other comic book and movie fans about the best way to bring a sprawling epic like Civil War or Crisis on Infinite Worlds to the big-screen. The result of that conversation was the epiphany that Marvel should go all out and commission a ten or twelve part mini-series, with the production value of Band of Brothers and The Pacific dealing with the many branches of the Civil War comic book event. Just imagine it- Marvel wouldn’t need to retain the same actors playing any of the superheroes involved in current “live” feature film projects due to audience familiarity with the properties and the mini-series format would allow sufficient character and subplot-line development. This excited me far too much, considering the likelihood of it happening isn’t exactly huge at this point. But what a fantasy.
Brilliantly atmospheric, and so clever, Fell is a claustrophobic noir about a homicide detective who transfers from his city beat into Snowtown, a decaying urban dystopia with a thousand eyes and as many secrets. It is a feral, almost lawless city which procks Fell’s procedural attention, and he sets about trying to change the city for the better. What becomes apparent very quickly is that not all city’s want the help.
The atmospherics and the simple episodic story-lines would translate well into a mini-series, though I fear an extended association with such a series would be enough to make even the glibbest of fellows melt into a wallowing pit of despair. But done correctly, this could be beautiful, the stories’ mysteries offering sufficient hook and Fell himself enough charisma to hold the attention on the big screen.
And for casting- I’d love to see Ben Foster as Fell, after he proved in 30 Days of Night that he can do slightly other-worldly characters with panache.
And the winner is… Okay, I know I said this was in no particular order, but the next addition is the stand-out choice. It is both cinematic in vision and incredibly good reading as a comic, and would work incredibly well on screen, which makes it incredibly exciting that definite moves are being made in the development of a TV series.
Another project I will soon get my wish with, since Powers is now firmly in the Yes pile for optioned, upcoming projects, with FX on board to bring the comic series to life. And I have to say, that just about makes me the happiest comic book dork in the whole world.
Powers is a luxurious amalgamation of a number of different ideas, combining Brian Michael Bendis’ passion for crime fiction and the police procedural with a “VH1: Behind the Music look at superheroes”, all told through an irresistible noirish filter. The post-superhero subject matter is a gold-mine, and the idea of unruly superheroes combined with a good old-fashioned procedural makes it something we haven’t seen before.
As for casting, only one man could possibly fill the over-sized boots of Christian Walker- Patrick Warburton (who you might remember I pushed forward as my ideal older Superman too), while his wirey sidekick Deena Pilgrim might get a good performance out of Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She certainly has the moves and the attitude, but I’d think it very unlikely she’d step down to a TV show.
So, what do you guys think? Which comics do you think deserve the film treatment? Or, perhaps more appropriately, which would translate the best into big screen films or TV shows?
This article was first posted on January 14, 2011