Unnecessary Changes in Comic Book Movies: Why?
Now in the past 13 years, comic book adaptations have come a long way. We have progressed far from the days when duck tits and batnipples were unfortunately commonplace in cbms, which until the new millennium were few.
But since then, we have seen X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Avengers and many more adapted to screen, with more to come. These are characters that, at the time of their creation, we probably thought we’d never see on film. At least, not as they currently exist. Some of them are good. Some of them are great. Some of them are/were game changers for the genre. And some of them make us remember the days where Joel Schumacher was in charge of Batman (I.E. they suck). But regardless of the quality, a consistent trait of all of these films share that there are always changes. And truly one of the of the most important things to know about comic book adaptations, or any adaptation, is that things will change. Maybe the change will be big. Maybe the change will be small. But what you see on screen will almost never be the same as it was in the source material. Sometimes because the original idea is too silly, outlandish, or unbelievable to translate to screen (such as Bruce Banner becoming The Hulk after being caught in the equivalent of a nuclear explosion). Sometimes because the original idea is too dark translate, as-is, to screen (such as gruesome death of Colonel Star and Stripes, and his dog Eisenhower, as well as the gang rape of Katie Deauxma in “Kick-Ass 2”). There are a variety of things from a comics that can, should, and often will be changed, and there are a variety reasons why these changes are made. And in many cases with good reasons, such as those stated above. However, it is baffling, and sometimes downright infuriating, when something that could (and would) work on screen, as well as it does in the comics, is changed. Often, for sake of change or just to be different than what came before. And, good or bad, these unnecessary changes beg the question: why?
A notable example of an unnecessary change from recent history was the radical change The Mandarin underwent for Iron Man 3. Now this was a change that fans, almost unanimously, hated. And for good reason. Not only did it radically alter the character (with a lackluster twist thrown in for good measure), but it did so in such a bad way that it had nothing of value that could excuse it, and justify why the filmmakers felt that the change needed to be made. And this goes back to my point that why should character, design, etc be changed for its adaptation, when it worked fine before? comic book or not? Now this isn't say that all of them are this way. Some of them have been very good, despite being an unnecessary deviation from the comics. A notable example is The Joker in ‘The Dark Knight’. Sure, the Joker didn't have bleached skin nor did he have a cartoony permanent smile, but the dingy, runny face paint and the Glasgow smile they substituted it with created for some truly frightening visuals that worked better than the comic book accurate look possibly would have. At least, in the world Christopher Nolan created for his critically acclaimed Dark Knight Trilogy. And The Dark Knight Trilogy as a whole is a great example of how deviations from the source material can benefit an adaptation. However, its also is a great example of how these deviations can be detrimental, sometimes with quite disastrous results. The main examples of being A) Nolan’s Two-Face, which (despite being a great design) was remarkably less realistic than comic version (so much so that it was pretty much unbelievable that he could still be alive in Nolan’s “realistic” Batverse following his accident) and B) Nolan’s Bane, which was especially bad, primarily due to the. Not only was his origin and ties to the League of Shadows altered from the comics (poorly, in a way that was inferior to what the comics did), but because the decision to retain his super strength, when the character’s source of strength “Venom” was excluded, directly contradicted the (likely) reasoning behind the change: that the “Venom” drug was unrealistic. So with that in mind, what was the point of changing the character so radically, when the result was poor and contradicted the (again, likely) reason why the change made in the first place?
More so than the changes that work as well as (or better than) the original material, changes such as these that are poorly done and/or contradict the reason why the change was made in the first place are why I must ask: Why? Why must these changes be made? Why do things from the comics that could work in a film as well as it does in comic (even if with some updating) need to be changed when brought to life on screen? As a fanboy myself, I have watched other fans moan and complain about changes in cbms and voice these questions themselves, be it over minute change (like why Johnny wasn't blind in the Fantastic Four films) or significant (like titular character’s redesigned suit in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man). And while up until now I haven’t been among them and largely criticized them for their complaints, I feel like I now know their pain. More and more recently, I find myself wondering the same things. Thinking about all the changes we've seen over the years, I feel that it just shows a lack of creativity, a lack of imagination, and overall laziness on the part of the filmmakers when, story wise or design wise, they can’t figure how to make these things work and/or they don’t even bother to try. Even worse instances, I feel, are when these changes are made just for the sake of change/to be different from what came before? (*stares intensely at copy of The Amazing Spider-Man).
I guess what I’m trying to say is…… good intentions or not, good execution or not, and personal vision or not, why fix what isn't broken? In a way, changes from the source material has been big contributing factor for the growth of comic book films, but in an age where increasingly faithful films such as Marvel Cinematic Universe of film exist, do these unnecessary changes that we've continually dealt with over the years still need to be made? and if so, why? If I had to answer myself, I’d say: No. As I said before, in a day and age where increasingly faithful films, such as those in the MCU, are being made more often, changes such as these don’t need to be made and shouldn't be made. And in the cases like The Mandarin in ‘Iron Man 3’, these changes shouldn't be overlooked, nor should we grow content with them over time. To paraphrase what I said earlier, if it ain't broke, don’t fix it.
: This article was submitted by a volunteer contributor who has agreed to our code of conduct
. ComicBookMovie.com is protected from liability under "safe harbor" provisions and will disable users who knowingly commit plagiarism, piracy, trademark or copyright infringement. For expeditious removal, contact us HERE