For those who haven’t been reading comics for years, things used not to be so awesome whenever superheroes made the jump to the big screen. Sometimes, we got shit like this. People have been spoiled by blockbusters such as “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight” but more importantly, those films have shown Hollywood that with the right mix of comics references, crowd pleasing actors, humor and heart, lots of properties could easily become crowd pleasers.
That being said, I adore failure and have made a habit of seeing every comic movie released in the past decade. There’s some good, some really bad and some huge misses in there but here, I’ve got a quick list of characters and books that could have made the transition much better and how they could have done it. Here are my picks, in no particular order.
1. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
What’s wrong with it: The whole movie took all the subtlety and originality from Alan Moore’s series and turned it into a whiz-bang action movie. It doesn’t even look like a comic, its just bad. Putting Sean Connery’s piss-pore Quartermain impression front and center instead of having Mina Harker lead the team was also a poor decision.
How do you fix it: Its not a action movie, its a mystery. Focus on Volume One, with Harker assembling the team to stop Moriarty’s plans for London. Occasionally have Hyde hulk out and fuck stuff up and have some hints about the Invisible Man’s corruption. I know we’re not going to be have the iconic rape scene from Volume Two (or that book’s considerably more interesting story) but it’d be a nice nod for the fans.
What’s wrong with it: I would have never guessed that Superman would be the hero that so many writers would have trouble with. When he’s not getting fucked by the studios, being destroyed by an overly heavy heavy handed Christian allegory or getting saddled in one of the strangest buddy movies/rape sequences in cinematic history, The Man of Steel has never had a really solid movie (no, I don’t think the Richard Donner cut of “Superman 2” is that good. Its actually kind of silly).
How do you fix it: Modify the “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” arc. Louis Lane recounts the story of the last time she saw Superman to a new reporter. Through the actions of Bizarro, a series of supervillains all descend on the Man of Steel, seperated from his network of contacts and left to battle alone, Superman has to beat through dimensions to face one of his most powerful and most underestimated enemies. As the story ends, the reporter learns that Superman is an auto-repair man who is now living covertly in Metropolis. This gives room for additional films that may draw Clark Kent back into action and pays service to one of the most well loved and well remembered Superman arcs.
What’s wrong with it: Admittedly, I sort of really like the movie “Constantine,” based on Vertigo’s iconic “Hellblazer” books. It has tons of problems but the visual effects and style are great. That being said, London’s greatest exorcist deserved so much better. John Constantine, the maybe immortal sorcerer, deserved a better actor than Keanu Reeves, didn’t need the ridiculous Shia LaBeouf sidekick and a should have had a better plot than an apocalyptic arrival of Satan. The charm of “Hellblazer” was the way that Constantine, a man without a gun and way too much charm, smooth talked his way through the best heaven and hell had to offer. Instead, we got Reeves shoving a crucifix engraved shotgun into a guy’s mouth, shouting “I’m John Constantine, asshole.”
How do you fix it: It’d be so easy to make the unbelievably fucked up, super awesome Resurrection Crusade story. Constantine observes a rise in a militiant Christian cult in England, only to find out that they intend to impregnate a girl by an angel so that she can lead the fight against hell. Meanwhile, Constantine’s long time enemy Nergal is running his own demonic cult to fight the Christians. After trying to stop both groups, John ends up in the hospital and has to take a blood transfusion from his demonic worst enemy, which gives him one chance to ruin the plans of both Heaven and Hell. I don’t want to ruin the conclusion of one of Jamie Delano’s best stories but its a morally complex, exceedingly dark story that could reach a great conclusion even before the Swamp Thing side of the story starts.
4. Jonah Hex
What’s wrong with it: Pretty much everything.
How do you fix it: Hex is a killer and bounty hunter before anything else. Play it like “Batman the Animated Series” did. Combine the rough as sand dialogue of an aging Clint Eastwood, a touch of Indiana Jones style pulp and all bad guys doing bad things to badder guys. Make it as grizzly as “Sin City” but with all of the grit of a man who’s seen too much but can’t stop looking.