Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Superhero Movies

Joe asked:

1. If you were to make a movie on a superhero, how would you go about it? Do you feel you should 100% go by the comic or put your own little spin on things as long as it doesnt mess with the original story too much. I ask because for fun (and possibly out of boredom) I thought about making a script for a Static film and wasnt sure if i wanted to go the comic route, the cartoon route, or a mix of the too.

I think the biggest thing to keep in mind before starting to adapt a superhero comic, or any other property for that matter, is that the bulk of the movie viewing audience who will come to see this movie has not read the comic books it's based on. You need to take what's in the comics and distill that into something you can use that will present to this audience everything it needs to know in order to enjoy the movie, and not clutter it up with excess material that will only serve to confuse and possibly alienate them.

Since the comics themselves are no longer necessarily true to the source material, with the various reboots, writer and artist interpretations, multiverse personifications and so on, you need to decide what is to the core of the character you are writing, and how that will translate to a solid, entertaining story for the screen.

The Adam West Batman was just as true to the source material as was the Michael Keaton Batman or the Christian Bale Batman. The first just applied a camp comedy sensibility to it, the second a gothic operatic twist and the third a more real world application. Sadly, while it may have been the most artistically satisfying of the three, the recent trilogy which presented Batman as a more realistic character, made it the least able to play in a shared universe with other DC characters. This Batman didn't face any super powered villains, or fantastic weapons. Superman could not exist in this Batman's world, nor Green Lantern, Flash, or the others. By trying to make those other characters bend to fit in this Batman's world is not being true to those characters or their own micro worlds within the DC Universe. A Justice League set in this Batman's world does not lend itself to credibility, but a Justice League incorporating the previous incarnations of Batman would work just fine as there was enough of a fantasy element to make it credible.

Green Lantern, which I have not seen, by trying to incorporate the expanded Green Lantern mythology, rather than focus on one hero, was probably great for the fans of all of the Green Lantern comic book titles, but overwhelming for the moviegoer unfamiliar with the character.

Spider-Man, in the Sam Raimi movies strayed from some of the source material; organic webs, a superhero character who in the comics has probably been most successful at hiding his secret identity, removing his mask constantly, but was still, at heart very true to what Spider-Man was all about, as was the more recent incarnation, which made Peter Parker less dorky, but kept his webs artificial.

The Hellboy movies were very true to the spirit of the comic book series, but were increasingly incompatible with the work that Mike Mignola, the character's creator, was doing in the comic book series. While Guillermo del Toro took great liberties with the Hellboy movies, he still honored the source material.

I think it really is about deciding what it is at the core of the character that you want to translate to the screen and picking a story, and a villain, who will support that. Cosmetic changes can't and shouldn't affect that, whether it's straying from traditional costume designs, or changing a character's race, or gender. To be honest, this is exactly how I go about writing superhero comics, too.

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