The Translation Debate.

The Translation Debate.

I'd like to talk about what does not allegedly translate and what does when adapting source material to screen.

Hey gang,
Morty here with something I'd like people to think about and discuss.
The Translation debate.

Many times, over and over since the release of X-men (2000) I have heard this statement-
"That does not translate to screen"
I personally believe everything translates. Because if it does not, nothing rationally translates.

X-men and Batman fans are notorious for saying certain characters do not translate to screen,
Or are not plausible to a mass audience.
How can Batman’s cowl work, but not Wolverines?
Both are ridiculous if you over scrutinize. But I can buy that as heroes living outside the law they
Need to be symbols and protect their identities.
I have a harder time believing they can stroll around without masks on,
break laws, use super powers and not have their lives turned upsidedown from being identified.

Why does one work and the other does not?


The same goes for Night Owl. His suit worked, is it because he looks like Batman that he translated ?
How does he work and not Wolverine and Catwoman ?
Say what you will about Watchmen, you either love it or hate it.
It had an awesome feel to it though regardless, that these heroes existed in a world with heroes,
Dressed in costumes they made themselves and couldn't give rats behind if anyone thought they looked silly.

As should any translated comic book hero

How about, Superman?
In my opinion those undies on top of his costume don't fit in any form of media
- People don't wear Speedos on top of their clothing
Ever as far as I've seen.
But, when he made it to the big screen into 5 or 6 movies he wore them and it worked just fine.
No one tore apart the Superman movies for the Speedos.
No one cared. In fact many seem pretty Pissed off that they are gone.

Wolverine or Catwoman in a mask can work, Bane as a drug enhanced luchador costumed muscle man can work without
Scarring off the general public.


Now let’s take a look at some movies that are cult favorites and or made a boatload
of money but also had some pretty silly elements in them - that people also had little to know no
problem with, and would by the "that does not translate logic" would not fly with the public in said theory.

*Avatar - the highest grossing movie of all time.
Giant blue Aliens that can interlink and communicate with trees and mate via their hair.


*Transformers - Alien machines that can transform into vehicles.
Featuring a cube a thousand feet across that shrinks to the size of a GameCube.


*Star wars - a Sci-fi space battle flick. In which there is a magic "force" that allows its users to communicate across space,
Move objects with their minds, predict incoming blaster fire and reflect it and jump one hundred feet into the air and so on.


*Terminator & Back to the future - Time travel



*Indiana Jones - Gliding back to earth on a raft, then down the river safely. Swinging with monkeys.
- I could go crazy listing things with this series

*Inception- Entering people’s dreams and being able to live in and or manipulate them.


*The Prestige - An electrical field capable of cloning human being.

The fact is gang; the general public does not crave raw realism, or care what allegedly translates to a couple overhyped closed minded directors.
They care about being "entertained" and as I have brought up in the above with those classic and high grossing movies,is when it comes to entertaining people everything translates. Some pretty silly concepts often hit the jackpot in the box office or with groups of devoted fans.
I am aware some of these points I made were hated on greatly, but it did not affect the movies success at the box office or with the
general public as a whole.
The movies succeeded regardless.

All this talk started with Bryan Singer and XMen.
Most of us recognize him as being extremely overrated now.

Christopher Nolan speaks the same way of Batman.
He did a bang up job with Batman Begins, A decent job with The Dark Knight.
But he says Bane cannot translate to screen after making his cloning electricity and entering people’s dreams?


We need to take two steps back from what these guys say.
Question things, because they do contradict themselves.

So please, when you are about to say something does not translate think real hard about what people hype up and what sells,
What is popular and how that judgmental angle affects many past classics or financial hit films.

Everything Translates or Nothing Translates.

Everything seems to be winning,
But with some setbacks due to directors of vision.
Over thinking, over stylizing, changing beloved, sacred source material for the sake of trying to make a fantasy themed world realistic superficially.
- Fixing what is not broken.
Its why so many of our beloved comicbook movies are getting crap treatment.
Its why Marvel studios is doing well, they know there need to be a few tweeks here and there, but no overhauls.
I hope WB, Fox and Sony get a grip on that soon. Renvisioning or reinventing characters is not needed with popular properties.

Question everything!
The second you accept everything Directors or people in general force feed you, you may as well be a pigeon eating corn from an old man.


Even if you disagree with me I hope I've given you something to think about.



Thanks for reading my article !

- Morty
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Member Since 1/12/2012
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TheGambitFreak - 2/5/2012, 12:51 PM

novaprime - 2/5/2012, 12:53 PM
i never believed in that doesnt fit in to the screen shiitt. i realy dont agree with THOR NOT HAVING A HELMET..OR HAWKEYE NOT HAVING A MASK..i realy realy want to see wolverine with a mask in the x men movies and ill love to see cyclops with his cowl and gambit with his neck and head peace they look so bad ass like that..
novaprime - 2/5/2012, 12:54 PM
bane i dont reall care because he still has a mask ive would have been more mad if they would have took off his mask and left him naked.. but theyve could have done a better job
Supes17 - 2/5/2012, 1:54 PM
Yeah I wondered why Wasp and GiantMan were left out of the Avengers.

Or how Abomination didn't have his reptilian comic book appearance and looked more like Doomsday.

And how Arnim Zola appeared as a fuddy duddy scientist instead of his comic book incarnaion because he didn't translate.
That sucks...
Supes17 - 2/5/2012, 1:55 PM
And yes I know about the Zola Android blueprint easter egg in the film..
Supes17 - 2/5/2012, 1:55 PM
Doesn't satisfy me
TheGambitFreak - 2/5/2012, 2:27 PM
Gambit, Wolverine, etc could all work easily, go to google images and look up Alex Ross X-Men Wolverine prototype, the one for the movie, Singer hated it, and it did look a little funky, but I would take that over biker outfit anyday!

Oh and @novaprime Gambit would be the easiest of them all!


Hell! Even if this clip, with the right type of filming, editing and directing, shitty cheap ass costumes could look cool, there is no reason for there not to be faithful adaptations of costumes.

I mean, look at this! It looks good! (Talking about Spider-man, rest can go to hell!)

marvel72 - 2/5/2012, 2:29 PM
good read mate,i would love to see the likes of killer croc,man bat & bane on the big screen.

instead of seeing the same old villains joker,penguin,riddler,catwoman & two face all the time.

at least marvel studios are trying to give us the costumes we want.
Dartanian300 - 2/5/2012, 2:53 PM
Nice article.

But most of (if not all) the things you said worked that did not seem real were concepts; non-tangible things. While the list of things you said could work are physical items that most agree would look silly.
FutureCBMHero - 2/5/2012, 3:09 PM
I agree with your premise, but I don't like your examples. Comparing the "realism" aspect of Sci-Fi to how a costume works on film is comparing apples to broccoli.

I do think that any costume can work within a specific universe
Corallary: Not every costume works in every universe.

Basically, what Nolan has done to make the cowl acceptable, is establish necessity (Bruce wanting to instill fear in the wicked). Singer was not creative enough (or motivated) to create necessity for the X-Men uniforms.

Now, you can discuss whether Characters can translate. Once again, that comes down to the limitations of the universe. You can't just throw in a shape shifter into the middle of the current Nolanverse, it doesn't really make sense.

Just to be clear, I think it is possible to make ANYTHING translate, but you have to build the proper structure and universe.

I think we will see the Wolverine Cowl in The Wolverine, that's just me though
Paulley - 2/5/2012, 4:34 PM
Meh cant say i agree with you for most of this... Wolverine doesnt have an identity to protect cus he doesnt know it... And more importantly he is a vigilante/hero in the movies.. He is a fredomfighter/terrroist depending on your perspective.

@supes ... Abomination didnt have reptil features cus he is created out of a mix of supersoldier serum and hulk blood... No lizards involved.

I have no problem with going through and using the parts that work right for the story being told.
Paulley - 2/5/2012, 4:36 PM
He ISNT a vigilante/hero*
Paulley - 2/5/2012, 4:38 PM
@futureCBMhero exactly 100% agree
Viltrumite - 2/5/2012, 5:21 PM
Very well written article, but I have mixed feelings. I think Superman looks fine with the underwear, but I think he looks better without. I don't think Hawkeye's mask would work, but I think Wolverine's full costume/mask could work if it's portrayed as a samurai armor. I'm hoping they do that for The Wolverine's Japanese setting.
Supes17 - 2/5/2012, 5:33 PM
I thought that the translation thing applied to all CBMs. I guess it only applies to him..
Zola wont appear as the machine. He turned his back on Red Skull, Cap crashed into the ice and remained there for 70 years, so there's no room for him in a Marvel film. Unless they bring him back from the dead or something.

Nolan doesn't apply hyperrealism to every CBM franchise. He didn't do it with Superman, which he co-wrote with Goyer. He wanted to portray Batman in a hyperrealistic world to exploit his human side and vulnerability. When he gets hit with a car, you don't know if he will get up, unlike the animated version that can take punches from SupermanO_o.
But I get what you mean, not everyone agrees with this approach. But it's been successful so far.
They shouln't reboot it for a while, but when, not if, they do..I'd like to see an Arkham City style franchise.
Supes17 - 2/5/2012, 7:52 PM
But as a friendly gesture and peace offering, I leave you with my favorite superbowl spot from tonight :P
novaprime - 2/5/2012, 10:35 PM
thedude2936 - 2/6/2012, 12:56 AM
good article and you make good points, id love to see wolverine in his suit, while i like the biker jacket and wifebeater look as his civilian identity, the mask wouldve been better for hiding his identity. Brian Singer screwed the pooch on the xmen. i loved it at the time but after growing up a bit i realize the xmen movies werent as faithful as they shouldve been.
RorMachine - 2/6/2012, 2:53 AM
"Everything Translates or Nothing Translates" Nope, sorry just not true. There just isn't any precedent for this. Of course some things would work being more faithful to the comics, and some wouldn't. Realism has very little to do with it, it simply comes down to what looks ridiculous on film and what doesn't. You don't think directors and costume designers try things out first before deciding on a more toned down approach? I mean lets take Wolverine as an example. Some variation of his costume, cowl included could definitely work on film. But if you think they could use that classic yellow and blue getup without having people laugh their asses off you've got another thing coming! Even if YOU personally, or the majority of comic fans accepted it knowing that it was faithful, most non comic fans would not. And they make these movies for everyone remember. Bane too, you really think that muscleman/Luchador gimmick would fly? Didn't you see Batman and Rob9in? Obviously they could do a better job that that, but at the end of the day there are only so many ways you can faithfully depict a roided up giant wearing a silly wrestling mask. You say there is no Nolanverse only a DC and Marvel Universe? Again, that's just not true is it? I mean whether you like it or not, these movies are only adaptations of the comics they are based on and that is all they CAN ever be. If a director/writer etc thinks that a costume can serve his story better by being altered or tone down then that's his prerogative. It might not work, it might..either way it's his mistake to make. Fans need to realize that they do not own these characters, they just read about them. Now I'm not saying we shouldn't get pissed off when a bad movie is made from something we love and respect, but if something is changed and a good movie still comes of it I really don't think we have too much to gripe about. That's just my take.
Paulley - 2/6/2012, 3:07 AM
Lol @monty ummyea what exactly is he going to put on his driving licence

First name: Logan
Surname: Dont know
DOB: Dont Know

Lol he lived as a drifter in a RV a way from people to sofa surfing at a school.

The whole point of Wolverine was he is a man who has lost his identity/past.

Paulley - 2/6/2012, 3:12 AM
And for your other scifi examples the silly elements work within there established universe..

If something is set up and given a reason to work within its own fiction then it is fine. But you cannot just throw in something in just cus the comic did an expect it to make sense
Shaman - 2/6/2012, 5:26 AM
Costumes depend entirely on the setting. It has nothing to do with them looking ridiculous or not. When a costume looks ridiculous, it's only on account of it standing out of the setting it's featured in. Batman's outfit would look ridiculous in a LOTR setting but in Nolan's Narrows, it fits like a glove. Wolverine's bright yellow and blue suit would have looked ridiculous in the covert-op setting Singer established. His X-Force suit would've rocked though. Ironman's entire movie was about Tony Stark's ingenuity and technological brilliance. That alone made him creating and using his armor belivable and fitting. And since Marvel are expanding their filmverse into the cosmic realm, our heroes' brightly colored spandex suits will fit in quite nicely next to aliens with various skin complexions. It's all just a simple question of setting.
alekesam - 2/6/2012, 8:24 AM
The first half of the article is on point but the second half almost tanked the argument as those are bad examples to prove it right.

But I do agree, anything can work with the right tone/presentation.

Sometimes I think when the director says something wouldn't translate to film, it's just their catch-all excuse for ducking what they themselves don't want to see in the movie. Bane could translate to screen well, but then you'd have to admit that you're doing a movie about a comic book character and that can't be good fo rthe ego.

I didn't think SPider-man's costume would look right in a movie and Raimi proved me wrong. But then, Raimi didn't come into the franchise with an ego about the whole thing. Nolan (and to a lesser extent Singer) both are "arteurs" so in their own mind they're elevating the material whereas Raimi has no qualms whatsoever about keeping the stories as close as possible to the original source, costumes and all.
RorMachine - 2/6/2012, 8:47 AM
Shaman, very true but wouldn't we be taking the right setting as a given since the characters are only going to be appearing in the world/situation that's created for them?

Morty, that's another thing..your telling me you would rather Ferrigno, who (no offense big guy) can't actually speak coherently let alone act over someone like Tom Hardy just because he's bigger? This is just the difference between movie fans and comic fans that want to see the characters in a movie. ..oh and it was NOT just the writing and tone, that massive, rubber suited mess would have looked out of place anywhere a film camera was pointed.
RorMachine - 2/6/2012, 9:17 AM
..Shaman, sorry I kinda misread your comment. I get what your saying, but still think there are some costumes that just wouldn't work no matter how the setting was adapted around them. Or at least wouldn't work on me! I guess everyone would have to decide that for themselves, I still don't see a film maker or studio taking the gamble anytime soon.
RorMachine - 2/6/2012, 11:09 AM
Nah man, I'm thinking just fine believe me! You keep your "just entertaining", I won't accept that..I want the BEST a movie can be. People settling is why we have shit like The Zookeeper and The Devil Inside etc frequently scoring the no 1 spot at the box office. You just want to see the characters from the comic up there on the screen as they look in your comics, and everything else is secondary. Fine, but the only think I'm "prescribing" too is wanting to see quality film making.
Paulley - 2/6/2012, 11:50 AM
Sorry Monty i just cant agree with you...

There is no reason in the X-Men movies for Wolverine to wear a mask....

But i ask you this if your entire case is that Wolverine will be seen on camera and the police would find his DMV record and come arrest him at the school.. then why dont you care that Storm doesnt wear a mask?!!

Anyway things work within the boundaries of the universe in which they exist... In regards to you saying that there is only the Marvel Universe and DC Universe that is narrow minded even Marvel, despite there willingness to explore the interactions with their properties, know that there Marvel Cinematic Universe is a different entity to there main line and that how things work in the MCU is set by the boundaries established in there Pre-Avengers films...

i.e. Magic is Science that is incomprehensible to modern man, genetic manipulation, wormhole-portals through space etc... now these rules have been established
RIKSHAWRenegade - 2/6/2012, 1:27 PM
Brilliant words Morty, couldn't have said it better myself. In fact thats what I've been saying for years. I think there all a bunch of cowards, too scared to make a change in the old "hollywood formula" and make real film history!!! All that potential just wasted on tasteless, unimaginative halfwits, to which I could write better scripts buy wiping my arse with parchment and then pee on it. Far more creative then what these dipshots think up.
I better stop myself there cause I could go on for hours. Thats my 2 cents and I'm all outta change!!! Lets hope hollywood and the rest of the world is full of it!
RIKSHAWRenegade - 2/6/2012, 1:30 PM
All things can translate. Just open your freakin minds. It's not that hard.
RIKSHAWRenegade - 2/6/2012, 1:31 PM
And also above all else, SUSPEND DISBELIEF!!!
Supes17 - 2/6/2012, 1:53 PM
@RIKSHAWRenegade:That's a bad-ass avatar
Paulley - 2/6/2012, 3:58 PM
@Morty, i think we are going to have to agree to disagree regarding the Wolverine thing.. i have no wish to argue further.

Also wormholes are theoretical but within the confines of this established Marvel Cinematic Universe they are now fact... in future Iron Man movies you could now throw in a wormhole and no one will blink as it has been established as possible in the universe... with each successive film the plausibility of doing things that would otherwise be silly become possible.... if say there was and MCU film about someone doing time travel then that element becomes usable throughout the universe related films.


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