Richard Donner's 1978 movie Superman set the bar sky-high for Hollywood comic book adaptations. But which other sequential art classics have the makings of hit movies? Here are 9 of the most deserving.
It’s a travesty that Garth Ennis’ spaghetti western-inspired masterpiece hasn’t made it to the big screen yet. Following the adventures of Jesse Custer, a Texan preacher accidentally possessed by a supernatural creature called Genesis, the series defined comic books in the second half of the 1990s. The combination of Sergio Leone-style western and religious thriller works perfectly — and the fact that it’s underscored by some of the best dialogue this side of a Tarantino movie just makes it all the better.
Brian Azzarello's noir fiction series came closest to being made back in 2011, when Dark Knight co-writer David Goyer came within a hair of bringing it to screens as a Showtime series. Those plans stalled — but fans’ enthusiasm didn’t. With a great concept in which various wronged people are given the chance to enact their violent revenge, a 100 Bullets big screen adaptation has all the makings of a Pulp Fiction style classic.
I Kill Giants
Even if movie special effects are the best they’ve ever been, it’s definitely possible to take modern blockbusters to task for lacking the kind of affecting stories that made classic box office hits like E.T. so enduring. I Kill Giants is the story of a geeky young girl whose struggles with everyday life see her retreat into her fantasy world of magic, monsters and, of course, giants. Picture Sucker Punch and then imagine it was a billion times better. Indie sensibilities meet Hollywood SFX? You’ve got my money!
Photo: Image Comics
A twelve-issue comic series written and illustrated by Charles Burns, Black Hole tells the story of a sexually transmitted disease which causes grotesque mutations in teenagers during the 1970s. Part coming-of-age story, part body horror, the series would be perfect for the likes of David Cronenberg back in full Videodrome mode. Hollywood clearly sees the potential too — since everyone from French horror maestro Alexandre Aja to David Fincher have been attached at some point. Still no film as of yet, though. (Although this short gives a taste of what it could be.)
Chalk this one up to my love of Entourage! Season two of the show depicted a version of Aquaman directed by none other than Terminator 2 and Avatar movie legend James Cameron. By the time the season was finished I had no doubt at all that, in the hands of the right director, this could be awesome. Even if Adrian “Vincent Chase” Grenier’s hardly ideal casting.
Art Spiegelman’s Holocaust retelling Maus remains the first and only comic book to ever win a Pulitzer Prize. Spiegelman has received multiple offers to adapt it for screen over the years, and has turned all of them down, but in the hands of the right filmmaker this has the opportunity to be an absolute classic. And Spiegelman hasn’t totally ruled it out either — once saying that, ”I keep my Maus movie rights locked away with [a sign that says]: Break open in case of financial emergency.”
Neil Gaiman’s Vertigo series has as good a claim as anyone of making goth popular. But despite its enormous fanbase and various Gaiman works being adapted for screen, Morpheus and his dreamlike cohorts have remained trapped in development hell. Which is a real shame, as we reckon Alan Rickman would be perfect.
Grant Morrison’s ragtag group of magicians form the center of a comic series that touched on everything from action, sex and drugs, to UFOs, organised religion and out-and-out paranoia. With its winding plot, larger-than-life characters, and anarchist spirit, The Invisibles could definitely grab the same audience who loved mind bending movies like Fight Club and The Matrix.
With Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy in the bag, hits like X-Men: Days of Future Past ruling the box office, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy surfacing on the horizon, we’re living in a Golden Age for comic book movies.
But even with Hollywood seemingly buying up the rights to anything it can get its hands on, there are still some fantastic comic book series yet to make the transition to the silver screen.
Which comic book adaptations would we put down our hard-earned bucks to enjoy at the multiplex? Read on to find out…