5 Of The Most Common Complaints Made By Comic Book Fans, 3rd Complaint!
Comic book fans are passionate people with extremely strong opinions. They give these opinions, whether studios and production houses like it or not. Read on for the 3rd of five articles exploring the most common complaints fans make about comic book movies.
This is the next article in the 5 part series, “5 Of The Most Common Complaints Made By Comic Book Fans” you can find, The 1st Complaint, and The 2nd Complaint by clicking on their links respectively.
“The Movie Is Exactly The Same As The Comic!”
The Usual Statements
“It was too confusing and didn’t translate well on film.”
“I already know this story, give me something original!”
“Why is this movie being made instead of ____________”
“I think it looks strange translated exactly as it is in the comic, it looks cheesy on screen.”
“I liked the comic but the film could have been changed to improve the story”
“Zack Snyder is too hyper-stylistic, and I didn’t want to see the graphic novel this way. I want it to be more realistic.”
What? Why? Who The F*** Cares!?
Yes, indeed there are fans, so puerile, that even the most faithful of interpretations were not good enough. There are fans among these ranks that had valid points and arguments on this topic; most of them get drowned out by the noise made collectively between the ones making pointless debates, and those flaming them for making the pointless debates. Eventually many of the same people making some of the constructive arguments end up adopting an affinity for the films in this category. However, let’s delve into the aspects of this particular complaint.
The main argument posed by fans (and some critics), included among the hardcore elite, were generally the notion that these films weren’t really creative works; that they were blatant direct adaptations of comics to film. Pretty much using the comic like a direct storyboard and shot list, with little, if any, creative license taken to improve the project and bring it closer to a mainstream market; maintaining it completely for the fans that know and have read the comics or graphic novels.
In an attempt to remain objective, I still have to admit, I myself, was completely baffled that we were getting (nearly) picture perfect adaptations of some amazing comic books. Because it just normally doesn’t happen, the financial risk is exceptionally high. To actually gain a faithful representation of a beloved story, only to listen to a large group of fans complain, and ultimately not support the film, I felt was an (enormous) insult. Especially, witnessing for many years, fans debating about the lack of faithfulness to a source of material for any given movie. It all just seemed like a slap in the face to me.
My inner geek wanted to smack these people, and tell them how many ways they can go screw random objects. However, I (mostly) remained calm and began to understand their points of view; without over-arguing my own point (on various forums) that “…Fans are just never happy…it’s either not close enough to the comic, or it’s too close to the comic; make up your minds? Is it any wonder why studios don’t give a crap about our opinions?”
Many arguments sprang up on this trend specifically surrounding Zack Snyder’s work, which is exceptionally high profile in the comic book world. We can analyze some of what may be occurring in the DC universe with Man of Steel in contrast to what he experienced when making and promoting Watchmen. One, a completely faithful adaptation in conjunction with David Hayter; who actually received high praise by Alan Moore, himself, for writing Watchmen. Against, a variety of creative adjustments penned by David S. Goyer and Chris Nolan; however, it would be highly speculative, even with some evidence to support our suppositions.
A Few Films that were too close to the comics that were complained about
How it all turned out. Well, not all of it.
A few of the examples above had exceptionally strict adaptations to specific comics, graphic novels, and novels of certain works. Fans at first argued over creative license issues, versus keeping the properties untouched. When all of them hit theaters, the critics usually had great things to say, and the audience reactions (in the mainstream) were positive in majority. A couple of the films that took scrutiny for being so closely adapted to the source material were based on Frank Miller graphic novels, 300 & Sin City. To a degree most of the arguments were dismissed as crassly idiosyncratic drivel; yet, some of the arguments were based more on Snyder’s ability to direct 300.
Snyder's film, Watchmen, did fail in the theaters, only moderately recovering from the home market, however is still considered one of the most faithful adaptations a comic has ever had to film. The same naysayers that held their ground on the concept of “too faithful” championed the notion that Watchmen failed because of its near direct frame-by-frame adaptation. Truth told it wasn’t a completely frame-by-frame adaptation, with Snyder changing the ending. However, all things considered, this CBM was “virtually” a perfect visual film, expressing some extremely potent political messages, on a comic event that was not really a mainstream story. Rather, it was trying to be a mainstream comic. But because it was not at all adapted for a broad audience, it ended up failing on the big screen. In essence, the hardcore fans got a film just for themselves.
I remember a comment made to me by an event organizer at comic-con regarding this particular film when we were both running a panel. It was bold and presumptuous, but he said, “Watchmen is the most important comic book of our time, about the most important events parodied in our history.” I didn’t dismiss this comment, even though it was a very strong statement. But I always remember it when I think about how Watchmen performed in the theaters.
How about other films in this category complaint, like Sin City? Tank Girl? The Crow? Better yet, Punisher. We’ve received three Punisher films over the years, and we have yet another reboot incoming; I should really say, in development for 2014. Fans have stated the 80’s Dolph Lundgren Punisher was too insane; a man that pretty much sat naked in filth, and killed mercilessly, everyone in his way. Thomas Jane had too much emotion and not enough rage. Even if the 2004 film had more creative license vs. adaptation, that based itself on a more modern version of Frank Castle. The Ray Stevenson, attempt-to-be comic accurate, killing machine version, (aptly titled) Punisher: Warzone; ended up, one of the biggest bombs of all time in comic book film history; honestly it was the 80’s version of the Punisher film without all of the pooh.
With regard to that last comment, it’s interesting to note, a good portion of the films argued to be too faithful, even in minute debates, have generally failed in the theaters. With the exceptions being the Frank Miller GN’s directed by Zack Snyder & Robert Rodriguez, 300 & Sin City, respectively.
Some of these films that failed ended up becoming cult classics like Tank Girl, which bombed worse than Punisher Warzone. While we might find it audacious that a fan could make the argument “This is too much like the Comic.” Those fans might be right that perhaps a comic without some preparation for the real world will simply not survive on the big screen. But I discredit most of that notion wholesale and assert that the films that failed had a variety of other factors causing that failure. Watchmen was made to be a faithful representation and failed financially because it was not a mainstream story, it was too faithful to a graphic novel that was somewhat obscure, and heavy handed in its messages, as most of Alan Moore’s messages are themselves heavy handed.
Were you among those that thought Watchmen needed to have original material in the film? Were you a fan that didn’t agree with a film being directly adapted from a comic? Every day this week a new common complaint fans make will be posted.
Comment, tweet, share, bitch, moan, praise, adore, flame, complain about a typo, or add to the conversation however you please. You’re comic book fans, it’s your right! @emanuelfcamacho
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