We all love when our favorite comic books get picked up for TV and movies. We as fans have already started imagining what actors will play who and what they will look like. But, sometimes we end up disappointed with the animated and live-action adaptations and it makes us want to just read the comics instead. Of course, not everyone will all agree with adaptations I either am lukewarm about or just flat-out hate, but I think we can all agree that some of these reworks tend to combine stories that give the viewer an unfair point of view on characters that may or may not be fleshed out too well on screen.
Here are a few that come to my mind…
If you were to ask the average comic book fan who Captain Marvel is, they might say Carol Danvers. While she currently holds the title, she was not the first. In fact, no character in Marvel Comics or its preceding title Timely Comics was. The first Captain Marvel was Billy Batson of Fawcett Comics (but later came to DC Comics). While currently, the character goes by the name Shazam, many a fan remembers his timeless adventures as Captain Marvel with the Captain Marvel Family. While the film adaptation of Shazam was a success and managed to capture the fun and spirit of the characters, the erasure of the Captain Marvel name is one that still bothers many fans to this day.
The Death of Superman is one of the most polarizing comic storylines of all time. This storyline has been adapted many times, but the one fans dislike the most was by far Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Between using only part of this storyline as inspiration along with a very Frank Miller-esque Batman (more on that in the next article), the weight of Superman’s death in this film was undercut by the film and its predecessor improperly developing Superman. Even Lois Lane’s impact of the death, iconic in the comic but lessened here, could not be saved by Amy Adams’ excellent acting chops. There just wasn’t enough time spent with either character individually or as a couple for the iconic storyline to really hit home.
The Long Halloween is so iconic of a storyline, a true murder mystery featuring some of the very best of Batman’s rogue’s gallery in a holiday-themed extravaganza taking place over the course of a year. This storyline was adapted, somewhat loosely, in Christopher Nolan’s epic film The Dark Knight. While it’s excellent and one of the best films ever, even it doesn’t capture the sheer scope of the original. Various villains beyond Joker andTwo-Face ranging from Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Calendar Man show up here. This storyline is also perhaps the first Pre-52/Post-Crisis On Infinite Earths time we see Bruce Wayne actually date Selina Kyle. This is a surefire joy for any BatCat shippers.
At the time of the posting of this article, we have yet to see the long-awaited animated adaptation of part 1 of the Batman: The Long Halloween film. It will star Jensen Ackles as Bruce Wayne/Batman and the late, excellent Naya Rivera as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in her final film role. It will be very exciting to see how this storyline is adapted in full, especially in two parts.
This epic comic miniseries is sheer brilliance. The adaptation that falls just short is the film adaptation, not the brilliant follow-up series on HBO. While the film is beautifully shot and is a mostly solid adaptation, it doesn’t quite hold up to the original. An underacting Laurie (seriously, Carla Gugino should have just been Laurie instead of her mother), the cutting of the interplay with the newsstand, and the sole Black character reading that eerie pirate comic, also casting the less heavy Patrick Wilson instead of someone a slightly heavier like Dan Dreigberg aka the second Nite Owl was in the comic. Fans of the original comic agree that the changing of the climactic twist in the film was unnecessary at best.
It all began here, June 1996 with Barbara Gordon, paralyzed at the time and operating as Oracle, recruiting the Black Canary, Dinah Laurel Lance, as her first successful operative for an unnamed operation. This run acts very much like a fun spy thriller. The film adaptation focused primarily on Harley Quinn (never associated with the team before the film), with the Birds simply supporting. The film completely erased Barbara Gordon from her own team/operation, which is just like erasing Professor X from the X-Men. It didn’t tell us whether Black Canary was Dinah Laurel or Dinah Drake or show her mother whatsoever. This is despite the casting call specifically calling for a biracial actress. Huntress only appeared sparingly until the final third. While Rosie Perez is great, Renee Montoya wasn’t needed. Most glaringly, a de-aged Cassandra Cain had far more in common with Sin, an adoptive daughter of Dinah in the comics, than Cain.
Fan reception to the film was mixed at best. Seriously, check both major comics out, the Dixon run as well as the Gail Simone run. The 2003 Of Like Minds storyline that saw Simone take over and revolutionize the team (adding Huntress to the team and making them more superhero-esque, and featuring loads and loads of team-ups and iconic DC characters) can be collected on Comixology in single issues. It also carefully crafted the unique relationships between the team and its individual members (even Barbara and Helena, who weren’t always the best of friends). Also, check out the Hero Hunters storyline (available in trade paperback) which features an untold story of Dinah’s mother Dinah Drake Lance, and the reason for the younger Dinah’s middle name of Laurel. It is a meaningful story of mother-daughter legacy and establishes both Canaries’ backstories.