If the recent, indomitable rise of the superhero movie is proof of anything it’s that comic books are fertile grounds for movie adaptation. Not to mention pretty profitable too if the whopping $2 billion Infinity War took at the box office this year is anything to go by.
But while there’s no doubting the origins of films like Infinity War and Black Panther, other movies aren’t so upfront about their comic book inspirations. In fact, for years filmmakers have been mining the world of comic books for plot ideas without being very forthcoming about the fact they essentially pilfered their premises from a pre-existing source.
From a cynical point of view, it makes perfect sense. As film is one of the more popular mediums of entertainment, we’re far more likely to see a movie than we are to read a comic book – especially one of the lesser known titles. That means there’s a tonne of untapped content out there that filmmakers can ‘borrow’ from and insert into their movies without many of us even noticing that their film might not be a wholly original product.
Not that that’s really surprising in the film industry – they say that in Hollywood, originality died some time back in the 1990s. Still, it’s kind of sneaky of filmmakers not to give credit where credit is due especially when it’s indebted to such a relatively underappreciated medium as comic books.
So, let’s expose the movies and their makers who totally ripped off their plots from comic books. Shame on you, guys, shame on you.
7. Avatar Is Suspiciously Like Timespirits
Since its 2009 release, James Cameron’s epic sci-fi Avatar has been accused of ripping off everything from animated films like Pocahontas and Fern Gully to Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves and the works of artist Roger Dean.
One comparison you don’t hear so much about (thanks to its relative obscurity, no doubt) is that of Timespirits, a short-lived 1980s comic series published under Marvel’s creator-owned imprint Epic Comics.
Penned by Stephen Perry with artwork by Tom Yeates, the series focused on a time-travelling Native American shaman and his apprentice who over the course of their adventures came up against a gigantic octopus-like creature, visited Stonehenge and resurrected Jimi Hendrix from the dead.
While that broad description makes Avatar and Timepsirits sound about as alike as chalk and cheese, one of the comic’s characters and her arc bear more than just a passing resemblance to Cameron’s film.
You see, Timespirits’ Thorneypaws – a humanoid alien with catlike features and blue skin who hails from a jungle planet and falls in love with a human – could pretty much pass as Neytiri’s doppelganger.
It gets a little more fishy when you consider that one of Thorneypaws’ plotlines even involves her visiting Guatemala during its civil war where she battles military troops who are slaughtering indigenous people which isn’t exactly a million miles away from Avatar’s imperialism-inspired themes either.
Of course, that could all just be pure coincidence but Cameron himself has recognised the influence of other works on Avatar. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before he acknowledges Timespirits might’ve helped shape his film too.