Changes in Comic Book Movies: Not Always a Bad Thing
Fans are always quick to crucify a comic book movie when they hear of the slightest change to the source material. But sometimes the changes aren't always a bad thing and can work to the benefit of the movie.
We comic book fans are a strange bunch. We browse the web for hours seeking any news we can on movie adaptations of our favorite characters, talk about how excited we are for the movies, then viciously turn on them once the smallest change is made from the source material. I can understand why we're so protective of these characters, we all have an idea of how they should be portrayed on screen and what we want to see, and feel slighted whenever Hollywood comes in and changes things around.
Hell, I've complained many times about comic book movie changes. I will never forgive Fox for what they did to Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, hated the tweaked origin for Doctor Doom in The Fantastic Four, and as for Catwoman, well, I don't even want to get into that. But I've said this before in previous articles, but movies and comics are two different forms of entertainment. Many times filmmakers have to change something in order to make it fit into a two hour movie or change it to fit their vision of the story. Many times fans attack changes to the source material but before thinking about it.
One of my favorite examples is the television show, The Walking Dead. I had read the first few volumes of the comic book, but had forgotten a lot about it before the show came around. I personally loved the show but many fans attacked it for deviating from the comic, especially towards the end of the season. Recently, I picked up The Walking Dead Compendium, collecting the first 48 issues of the comic, and I too found myself shocked by the changes the show made.
I think the changes made it better.
While The Walking Dead is a good comic, there are several major flaws. The dialogue is painfully on-the-nose (writer's term for cheesy and obvious) and many of the characters are cardboard cut-outs or not developed at all. Many times over the course of the comic someone would die in what was meant to be an emotional death scene, and I found myself wondering who this character was. The show took the good ideas of the comic and refined them. Many characters were left out, many were added, but in the show they all felt unique and real, I cared for them. Many times in the comic I felt that the plight of the survivors seemed too easy or too rushed, and the show took it's time, showing the problems they overcome and how sometimes the problems aren't easy to solve. So yes, many changes were made to the story, but I think they were for the best.
But there are many other times when changes helped the movies, or were better than in the comics. One of my favorite examples is the ongoing "organic web-shooters vs. mechanical web-shooters" from Spider-man. While Spidey has always had his trusty mechanical web-shooters in the comics (which always conveniently ran out of web fluid at the wrong times), in the movies his web-slinging abilities came to him with the spider bite. My big complaint with web-shooters is this: If a kid in high school is smart enough to create a weapon like that then he would go to an ivy league college and be making weapons for the government for the rest of his life. Peter Parker would not have his financial problems that he does because he would most likely be working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Plus, if he gained all of the spider's other abilities, wouldn't it make sense for him to gain the web-spinning ability too? This would have been a pretty big plot hole that general audiences would have caught, and the movie took care of it. Plus it would have felt awkward for the movie to stop in it's tracks to explain web-shooters to everyone.
Another great example of changes to source material is Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. Nolan's Batman exists in a very realistic world, and obviously many elements of the comics wouldn't fit in. Instead of being an immortal cult leader, Ras Al Ghul is the leader of a secret society that uses theatricality to intimidate their foes. Instead of a crook mutated by chemical, Joker is an insane anarchist that covers himself in makeup. The new series of Bat-films is a great example of how to change something to fit in with the tone of a movie, in this case the realistic tone.
But changes can be bad, as we've all scene. The changes listed above were still respectful to the source comics and enhanced the movies. But sometimes changes are made for no reason or just fall flat. In X-men Origins: Wolverine there was no reason to change Deadpool like they did, especially since Fox was so open about giving him a spin-off. Another example is the new Wonder Woman show, while the costume does look cheesy as hell it doesn't worry me as much as the plot does. While I think the show runners want to use Wonder Woman as a symbol of the 21st century working woman, it just seems forced and unnecessary, especially when Wonder Woman in the comics already carries a great message of female empowerment.
Many times, filmmakers don't seem to understand or respect the source material and they think they can do whatever they want without repercussions. Fans have a right to be protective of their fellow characters and cry foul when something is messed with, but sometimes we have to calm down and think about how it serves the movie that's being made and whether or not it will still tell a good story.
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