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John Byrne
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 5:22am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

The overall effect, from where I sit, is like watching a group of kids playing with their superhero action figures, only to have some bullies come along, take the toys, and start breaking them.

It's nothing new -- "campy" Batman? blonde Wonder Woman? "Otisburg?" -- but recently, especially as the box office profits have surged, it has become seemingly pathological.

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Marc M. Woolman
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 5:44am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Agreed. My one disappointment with the
Marvel films, despite how entertaining and
well constructed I find them to be, is
that I'm hard-pressed to name one that was
more than 60 or 70 per cent faithful to
the comics.
I think the first Iron Man comes closest
except they eschewed the iconic Red and
gold Armour that'd been Iron Man's look
for over 20 years.

Edited by Marc M. Woolman on 29 April 2018 at 5:46am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 6:00am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Much as I enjoyed IRON MAN, there was one small glitch that kind of defines the whole problem: in context, why do they call him "Iron Man"?
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 6:18am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

"It's nothing new" -- absolutely. SUPERMAN in 1978 is without competition my favorite superhero movie but not through a nostalgic haze: even 40 years ago I had significant gripes about it, and they've never lessened. I was extremely young for the "Batman" TV show, so I didn't get the campy nature, immediately: but as I began to be a regular reader of the 70s Batman, the show eventually grated more and more on my nerves. I have never understood why Hollywood refused to film great comicbooks stories as closely as possible -- they're essentially ready-made storyboards, nu?!


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John Byrne
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 6:22am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Saw an article the other day whose headline declared the new Avengers movie "transcends its comic book roots".

Want a towel to wipe that spittle off your face?

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John Byrne
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 6:26am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

...ready made storyboads...

•••

I'm not sure I'd want to watch a movie that used a comic book for its storyboards. As often as camera angles change in comics, it might make BLAIR WITCH look like it was shot on steadicam!

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 6:31am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

How about, more generally, based as closely on the original comicbooks as possible mutatis mutandis...?
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 8:47am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Great topic, Mr. Byrne. There is a degree of faithfulness that one would wish could be adhered to - but everybody wants to make their movie with a little of their own "genius", so that they can claim creator credits if it goes viral (as it were.)

I think the most faithful comic to movie treatment was "V for Vendetta" - but I don't know if we can call that a hero movie. From a purely objective point of view, V is a terrorist, an anti-hero. That doesn't mean he was wrong... but he's no Captain America.

Maybe "The Hulk" was really close. That seemed pretty close to the original comics to me, although I don't know how close the Abomination was to the original.

"Superman the Movie" got awfully close, but it introduced too many bad elements (Luthor hires imbecilic henchmen? Luthor hires any henchmen? Luthor's motivation is just greed? Lois Lane is bitchy?)

I didn't read any Deadpool comics, even though I knew of the character, so I don't know how close it got to the original.

Marvel movies have no excuse. DC movies have a bad one... if a movie was made after 1985, there are just too damned many versions of the heroes to pick the "right" one.

But oh, what I'd give for a movie that's a match for the comics. Is there a movie where a hero ISN'T treated similar to Spider-Man? "Threat or menace"... CAPTAIN AMERICA? THOR? Come on, now!
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 10:00am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I think the most faithful comic to movie treatment was "V for Vendetta" - but I don't know if we can call that a hero movie. 

——

Most faithful? The movie completely missed the point of the book. In the book, V was an anti-fascist anarchist who could be as unsympathetic as the fascists he was taking down. You were supposed to be uncomfortable with both extremes. The Wachowskis somehow transformed this into a GWBush-era allegory with V as a heroic, martyred freedom fighter in a democratic resistance against neoconservativism.
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Matthew Wilkie
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 10:13am | IP Logged | 10 post reply


I think the most faithful comic to movie treatment was "V for Vendetta" - but I don't know if we can call that a hero movie. 

***

I'm afraid I can't agree with that either. It turned the book into a 1980s UK cop show.  

MInd you, that's my opinion: save for the end, I happen to think Watchmen is pretty faithful and I suspect I'm definitely in the minority there.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 10:38am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I found it supremely (ahem) ironic that Moore disowned the WATCHMEN movie.
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Joe S. Walker
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 11:47am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I think comics just don't translate to screen all that well. So much free imagination on the page becomes ponderous on screen.
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 4:14pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Michael R. - You seem to have hit my rationale for saying that maybe V isn't a hero movie. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

But by all means - what do you think is a close hit for comic book to movie?

Matthew - I haven't seen enough British police dramas, so I've nothing to compare to. I do know that one of the main characters in the comics was a policeman, so I can see the similarities.

You have a great point about "Watchmen" - it did have a lot of similarities, so it was a good and faithful treatment as well. Still, as Mr. Byrne noted, Alan Moore did disavow the movie... there must have been something he really hated.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 5:00pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Moore's reasons for not wishing any association with the film were twofold, based on interviews. 1.) All of the film adaptations of his work to date had been gross bastardizations and poorly done ones at that, and 2.) Watchmen was specifically designed and crafted to work as a comic book series. The pacing, interplay of stories and moments, and use of language were designed to work on the page and not the screen. Watchmen's plot might be roughly translated, and the characters could appear in some form, but definitely not in the form he intended. 

All in all, he believed he'd created something that not only could not be transposed to film, but should not. The specifics of the script played no part in his decision. I believe he said he never read it.

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Rick Whiting
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 5:10pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

The worst part of the success of the Marvel and DC movies (especially the Marvel movies) is that the comic book versions as well as the animated versions will be made to reflect and resemble the movie versions instead of more closely resembling and reflecting the original comic book versions.

Edited by Rick Whiting on 29 April 2018 at 5:11pm
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 5:14pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I actually seen the movie before I read the comic but SIN CITY the movie was pretty damn close to a perfect comic translation.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 8:44pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Of course, the 60s BATMAN show was full-on camp. As I noted in my review of THOR: RAGNAROK, last night, the shift now seems to be toward the characters making jokes, rather than the filmmakers making fun of the characters.

If the characters basically run around and hang a lampshade on all of the innate absurdities of their universe, then that’s Kewl. Again, as noted in my review, it’s like a Joss Whedon fever dream of snark and quips. Indeed, Whedon is largely responsible for this sort of thing. BUFFY was a sort of post-modern take on traditional horror tropes, and the characters’ constant quipping was fresh, fun, and worked well for that show.

There’s definitely a certain homogenization which has occurred in the Marvel movies, and that may in part be a result of the fact that different tones are perhaps less incongruous on the printed page than they are in live-action. After all, most viewers would likely expect different movies set in a live-action universe to have a certain stylistic consistency. So, everyone’s a jokester, and everyone tries to outsnark each other. 

I get the nagging feeling that the underlying embarrassment for the source material is still lurking under the surface, or perhaps that the filmmakers have realized that all they have to do is slap the familiar names onto actors who make lots of jokes, and fans will eat it up. Funny= entertaining, after all.

Of course, not every movie necessarily should be just one thing, tonally—be it totally serious or totally ridiculous—but I do think that certain standards are important to keep in mind. A Thor movie should not necessarily be funnier than a Spider-Man movie, and a Hulk movie should probably be more action-packed than an Ant-Man movie. That sort of thing. 

The process of the tail wagging the dog is especially irritating to watch. As fun as Robert Downey, Jr. is in the role, Tony Stark was never “Tony Snark” prior to that first IRON MAN movie, but that iteration has now completely overwritten the comic character and how he’s perceived. 


Edited by Greg Kirkman on 29 April 2018 at 8:45pm
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David Miller
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 9:27pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Part of the challenge is evoking the wit of Stan Lee's classic captions on film without narration. While there are possibilities to contribute that tone through music and editing, the jokes gotta come from somewhere, and the characters are usually the only ones talking.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 29 April 2018 at 10:54pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Not to say that I dislike humor in superhero movies, of course. Rather that A) It feels out of character, in many cases; B) Many of the jokes are of the low-hanging variety, and/or rather crass.

I mean, Spider-Man is a jokester, and Bruce Banner is not, y’know? Yet, in these movies, it’s like everyone went to The Joss Whedon School of Snarky Asides and Quips.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 30 April 2018 at 5:27am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Most of Stan's captions were serious. An occasional quip here and there does not a "tone" make.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 30 April 2018 at 6:07am | IP Logged | 21 post reply


 QUOTE:
Snarky Asides and Quips

Robert Downey Jr in his opening scene in IRON MAN does a great Robert Downey Jr. Is it a great Tony Stark? In any event, Downey is so charming/funny that it's not hard to see why Hollywood took the easy way out (shocking, eh?) and decided to more or less Downey-fy all its superheroes since then. Even before that, Hollywood had one-liner syndrome tiresomely characterizing action heroes. 

Humor, like anything else naturally human, belongs in superhero stories. Think of how JB treated the Fantastic Four, each of whom have very different personalities, and so clearly exhibit their own sense of humor. 

[click on "own" for link to a JB page]


Edited by Michael Penn on 30 April 2018 at 6:08am
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Don Zomberg
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Posted: 30 April 2018 at 6:25am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Lois Lane is bitchy?

Feisty, yes. Bitchy, no.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 30 April 2018 at 6:54am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

Can take neither credit nor blame for that page, Michael! It's pure Fred Hembeck, from his FF "roast" comic, celebrating the Fantastic Four's 20th anniversary. Even the art is over Fred's layouts.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 30 April 2018 at 6:59am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

JB...!


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Steve De Young
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Posted: 30 April 2018 at 9:54am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

I'll confess, I have enjoyed most of these movies, at least on the Marvel side, on the level of entertainment.  I think, frankly, I have had low expectations for fidelity conditioned into me from my childhood.  I grew up on Superfriends, Batman '66, Wonder Woman, and then the sharply declining Batman series ala Burton and Schumacher.  I mean, I understand the issues with Thor Ragnarok vis a vis the comics, obviously, but compared to when Marvel was hyping the big event of The Incredible Hulk Returns?  Or Daredevil on Netflix v. Daredevil in Trial of the Incredible Hulk?

So, I cop to enjoying thing.  But I also cop to having vastly diminished standards based on past experience.
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