The problems with directly adapting comics

Feature Rob Leane 29 May 2014 - 06:21

From Days of Future Past to Iron Man 3’s Extremis arc, we examine the positives and pitfalls of plundering comics directly for film...

This article contains spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier but only discusses the basic story elements of X-Men: Days Of Future Past.

There was a period during the last few years, beginning with the original X-Men trilogy dwindling out in 2006 and arguably ending with Avengers Assemble in 2012, where Marvel heroes at the movies seemed to exclusively deal in reboots, recasting and origin stories. Despite a few exceptions, including the unloved Iron Man 2, discovering your power and embracing your destiny as a hero (or member of a team of heroes) seemed to be the order of the day for Marvel characters during this six year period.

Meanwhile, DC were doing something pretty interesting around this time period. Namely Christopher Nolan’s oft-praised The Dark Knight trilogy which took elements the auteur loved from the comics (the rooftop meetings and other inspirations from The Long Halloween, the breaking-the-Bat arc from Knightfall, elements of The Man Who Falls and Batman: Year One) and pulled them together to make a coherent, thoroughly entertaining trilogy.

With the Avengers assembled, Spider-Man rebooted and the X-Men revitalised through First Class, 2012 marked the beginning of a new era for Marvel at the movies, albeit with the properties still separated between different studios. Since then, filmmakers have been given the chance to delve a little deeper than simply relaying a well-known origin story and have been lifting popular comic book arcs from the decades of source material and adapting them directly for screen. 

Since then, with the only real exception being Thor: The Dark World which lifted characters but not the main plot, we have seen the history of comic books directly plundered for screen potential far more than ever before; Iron Man 3 borrowed heavily from Warren Ellis’ Extremis arc; Captain America: The Winter Solider was a fairly faithful adaptation of Ed Brubaker’s comic of the same name; The Wolverine took a lot from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s Wolverine limited series; The Amazing Spider-Man 2 reproduced the infamous The Night Gwen Stacey Died story from 1973, and now X-Men: Days Of Future Past has arrived as a comparatively loose reworking of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s brief but much-loved 1981 arc of the same name.

Now that we live in age where most major superheroes are established on screen, we had a look at these recent adaptations to find out what works, and what doesn’t about directly adapting comics...

Knowing what’s going to happen

This is one of the biggest problems with directly adapting comic books to the screen, the foresight it gives fans. Simply due to the centralising of Gwen Stacey in the post-Raimi reboot, hardcore fans began speculating years ago as to how many movies it would take before she took an unfortunate tumble off a high building of some kind, leading to one of Peter’s toughest moments in life – when, in trying to save Gwen, he actually killed her. In the comics, this horrifying moment continues to haunt Peter for years and was genuinely shocking when first read back in the seventies. Did the film version have the same shock factor? 

To a certain degree, yes. Seeing as the film wasn’t billed as The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Plummet of Gwen, this one retained a certain ability to offer an emotional gut punch, greatly helped along by the stellar chemistry between the pair and Garfield’s on-screen reaction. Generally this Spidey sequel was advertised as a multi-villain bust-up with some family history revelations thrown in. Some of the advertising (namely the two-part Superbowl Trailer) actually deceptively featured snippets of Gwen falling within the clock tower, but only showed the initial skirmish, including the shot where Peter caught and saved her, not the second more fatal fall, which actually served to throw a few viewers off the scent. Smart move.

The same cannot be said for Captain America: The Winter Soldier though which, if you know the comics, would have one big twist nullified for you. The identity of the eponymous Winter Soldier is common knowledge to comic book fans as the Bucky’s-still-alive-but-has-become-a-soviet-assassin plot-point originally played out in panel format back in 2005. Was knowing this kind of information before the film even started a bit disappointing? Maybe, but did the film make up for it in other ways? Definitely. 

As much as it’s easy to envy people who saw Bucky’s return with fresh eyes, there were plenty of other twists and turns in that narrative to assure that anyone looking for a conspiracy thriller with big revelations wouldn’t leave unhappy just because of their foreknowledge. Marvel Studios made a clever decision by tying in some plot elements more inspired by the Nick Fury Versus S.H.I.E.L.D. arc from 1988, namely the HYDRA infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which doesn’t feature in the Winter Soldier comic at all). Despite what we may have expected entering the cinema to see a film called Captain America: The Winter Soldier, what we actually got was more akin to The Dark Knight trilogy in terms of handling inspiration – it tied together elements that Marvel Studios and the Russo Brothers enjoyed from Cap’s canon and tied them together into something new.

Again, much like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the advertising of Captain America: The Winter Soldier actually threw us off the scent for the real major moments in the film. HYDRA’s take-over of S.H.I.E.L.D. was all anyone was talking about afterwards, despite being on nobody’s mind beforehand. Both these films have shown that lifting big plot points from the comic book world can work well and garner big reactions if handled correctly. By keeping schtum about the real revelations/losses in both films, despite the fact both movies had huge advertising pushes, meant that both could still have a big effect on people and offer plenty of surprises. 

Fox is now pulling a similar trick with X-Men: Days Of Future Past, which we won’t spoil here. It’s worth noting though, that the main similarity to the original comic is the central time travel conceit and the necessity to stop an assassination. The bulk of the film features astounding action, some emotionally-charged interplay between the core cast and, perhaps most importantly, a few surprises along the way. This seems to be the smartest away to adapt comics, with a unique new spin and some newly added elements.

Adding in too much

Of course we know that mixing up the formula and throwing in some additional elements doesn’t always work quite that well. The backlash from some fans after the Iron Man 3 reveal that uber-terrorist the Mandarin was actually out-of-work thespian and former toast of Croydon Trevor Slattery was some of the bitterest post-film feedback we’ve seen in recent years, despite Iron Man 3 receiving positive reviews and much love from other members of the public. 

Perhaps this vocal reaction from certain corners of the comic book fan-base was so negative because audiences had been told to expect a big screen adaptation of Warren Ellis’ highly-lauded Extremis series, which while still featuring Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce’s AIM evil genius) and Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall’s duplicitous scientist), had a notably distinct lack of any sort of Mandarin, let alone a comic relief version of the character.

Adverts in print comics around the time of the release urged you to pick up Ellis’ Extremis series, now a major motion picture, despite the big changes made before it got to screen. During the trailers and TV-spots the addition of the Mandarin seemed like an overwhelmingly good one – he was fierce, resourceful and enigmatic. But the realisation of his true identity disappointed some viewers and distracted away from what could have been a fan favourite franchise installment.

This is symptomatic of the aforementioned benefit to adding in new story elements – significant moments in the film can be masked in the advertising, allowing surprises and revelations on top of the comic book story which fans may know already. When this backfires though, as it did for some people with Iron Man 3, these extra revelations can affect the whole film and give it a bad reputation in certain circles.

This is a case of adding in too much then, or simply adding in stuff which wont please everyone. The Mandarin reveal was a risk for Marvel, which turned some people off, but equally entertained others. The MCU survived this one, but may not attempt anything too similar in the near future.

Failing to capture ‘the essence’

Arguably a worse fate than splitting opinions with new additions, is a film which doesn’t quite capture the essence of a beloved source material. Such was the case with The Wolverine which, despite being a fun entertaining action movie, somewhat lacked the brooding reflective tone of Claremont and Miller’s original Wolverine comic series.

Things started promisingly as Logan wandered the woods, did some soul searching and dished out a little vengeance, but things soon went off track when Hollywood-isation nullified any attempt at the nuance and character development that Claremont valued. The biggest problem is the unnecessary addition of the Silver Samurai, who only appeared in the epilogue to the original comic series, but is thrown into the film to force a generic superhero-movie-by-numbers big smash-up conclusion. A kendo duel between Logan and Shingen (Mariko’s father, who has most of his story given to the grandfather in the film), is also stripped – one of the Claremont’s biggest grievances with the film. 

“That kendo match is the seminal moment of the story,” the writer told Vulture. “Because it reveals Wolverine as vulnerable, even with his claws and his healing power.” Removing moments like that and preferring big silver CGI-enhanced fights is symptomatic of why direct adaptations don’t always work at the movies. 

Problems like this have haunted the X-Men franchise before of course, with Brett Ratner’s heartless retelling of Claremont’s beloved Dark Phoenix saga in X-Men: The Last Stand (which also failed to do justice to the cure-based storyline originating from a Joss Whedon-penned comic) being the direct adaptation sequel which plunged us into an age of reboots and recasting in the first place.

As discussed on this site before, X-Men: The Last Stand had plenty of epic action and attempts to carry a message, but fell down by turning Charles Xavier into an arsehole, killing off Cyclops at rapid pace and relegating Jean Grey, the presumed central character, to mainly standing around frowning at people.

To wrap up then, films like X-Men: The Last Stand, which fail to capture the essence of their inspiration by playing fast and loose with canon and characters, are those which come off worst when trying to adapt much-loved comic arcs to the screen. A similar fate, though not as bad a case of it, affected The Wolverine, which removed some interesting character development material and chucked in a clichéd closing smack-down instead. X-Men: Days of Future Past has shown a better way to adapt X-Men stories by staying true to the central premise but treating characters far better.

Superior to the pre-Future Past X-flicks are films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which lift whole stories from the comics fairly faithfully but find ways to surprise you with them, be it by misleading you from a big plot point in advertising (Gwen’s death) or throwing in a whole extra narrative strand which no-one saw coming (the HYDRA plot). Even this method is far from flawless though, as the mixed fan reception to Iron Man 3’s comic twist proved by offending some of Marvel's most vocal followers. 

Let’s hope that the various studios working on comic adaptations have taken note by now of what works and doesn’t and attempt to make smart decisions going forward, as we have no shortage of new superhero flicks coming soon. 

Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.

Disqus - noscript

I was hoping that a Marvel would create a short that would be based around an incident with Trevor Slattery in prison which caused him to turn into the Manderin, completing the circle.

My Wife loudly gasped 'oh my gosh' in the pictures after the Winter Soldier/Bucky reveal. A brilliant moment. The majority of the rest of the audience seemed quite surprised actually.

I loved the Mandarin twist - it was so unexpected. I know comic book fans who were thoroughly pissed at it, but as a more casual viewer, it was great fun.

with regards to the Ratner directed The Last Stand, for years I held it up as a good fun action movie that slightly skimped on the mythology. Recently I rewatched the X-Men animated series from the early 90s and it struck me just how much they missed the mark with Last Stand, on pretty much anything. That said I was impressed with how DOFP was handled from a mythology standpoint, while The Wolverine was one of my favourite comic book adaptations of the past few years. Fickle world eh???

I really liked the Mandarin twist actually, it was a real surprise that cleverly brought to screen and then subverted a character who could have been very difficult to play "straight" in a more racially sensitive era.

Additionally, it doesn't rule out a more comic-like version of the Mandarin turning up in a later film, which seems to nullify the complain that the Mandarin character has been "ruined" that I've seen.

go watch the marvel one shot called 'all hail the king.'

Will do. I assume it's on Thor 2 Blu as I'm yet to buy it

I was fine with the Mandarin twist. Sure it immasculated a classic comic book character, but it provided a plot twist (and some great humour) to the movie. Besides, the REAL Mandarin is still out there...

That said, Amazing Spider-Man 2 was awful, regardless of how it handled Gwen's fate.

Captain America: Winter Soldier is probably the film I have been recommending the most this year. Many of my friends skipped it in the cinema due to their "meh" response to the first film, but it really is a cracker. My only real criticism of it wasn't so much the film itself but the marketing, which I thought gave away the whole mystery of the Winter Soldier - I think every article I read (and I'm not talking about on spolier sites) revealed that Sebastian Stam was in this and what role he was playing. This is made all the more dissappointing when, on watching the film, you can clearly see that the audience was not supposed to know this until later. It reminds me of T2 where, just by the film, you don't know who's out to kill John Connor until the encounter in the mall corridor but, thanks to every bit of marketing at the time, we all knew that Arnie was a good guy for this one.
Onto the main subject of this article, I much prefer the interpretation route. You can't copy the comic exactly (although Watchmen does come close, to varied levels of success) and, in fact, I'd rather a new (or varied) story than one I've already read and have already "seen" in my budget free imagination. The main thing is to keep the essence the same. Winter Soldier did that brilliantly (both for the title story and Nick Fury vs SHIELD, replacing the villain with HYDRA), as did Batman Begins, whereas Last Stand did it appallingly. Amazing Spider-Man 2 is where I differ with the article, yes, Gwen dies and a Green Goblin is involved, but that film taken as a whole isn't really an adaptation of the original story at all beyond that.

Indeed it is and it really is worth watching. Marvel does seem to be at the top of its game at the moment, and the one shots (which have now expanded beyond being little more than Easter eggs to being continuations of the films themselves) are part of that. Cheeky of them not to be included on the DVD, though.

Could not disagree more. But different strokes for different folks I guess. I prefer fidelity to the material, and very much dislike hollywood writers changing things because they think they can get a cheap laugh out of it..

Someone needs to get a Kickstarter going to convince Sony to retitle the bluray "The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Plummet of Gwen".

I would strongly disagree with the conclusion of this article. Rather than stick to 'what works' and eject what doesn't, I hope Marvel continue to try new things. Sure, not everything will work, but not every film is bound to be perfect. At least if they continue to try new ideas, the MCU won't go stale.

I think the analysis becomes easier if one abandons the idea, rightly in my view, that there is any correlation between the "fidelity" or literalness of an adaptation and its quality. A good film adaptation is no more likely to be "faithful" or "unfaithful", in whole or in parts, than a bad one, as far as I can see.

“…Perhaps the majority reaction was so negative…” Eh? What majority is this then? Rotten Tomatoes has a 79% “Audience Like”, and 78% “Fresh” score for “Iron Man 3”, which is overwhelmingly positive, and Box Office Mojo has it as the 6th highest grossing movie, and just outside the top 100 in their “all-time gross adjusted for inflation” movies. Even if you discount financial achievement as a metric for success, the audience reaction on Rotten Tomatoes alone appears to blow the “majority negativity” notion out of the water - unless you have research which shows otherwise?

So just watched it and now I love the twist even more. That is brilliant.

I don't mind movie writers taking little ideas here and there from the comics (eg the Bat alarm thingy from Batman Begins/Batman: Year One) - in fact I think they'd be daft not to. As for taking entire stories/plots from comics, I'm only on board with this is if we're talking about stone-cold classics like Days of Future Past.

May I ask how you felt about Man of Steel? Because I know a lot of people who hated Iron Man 3's Mandarin but loved ol' neck snapping Superman. I think the neck snap is a worse change to a comic book character. Yes the Mandarin is an old character. But Iron Man has a terrible rogue's gallery compared to other heroes so the Mandarin is his main baddie by default almost. Plus the Mandarin has only had good stories involving him in the last 10 years or so. So it's not that big a deal I think.

I would guess it's the "majority negativity" of a vocal minority of comic book purists who make it a point to spew out their hatred for the film online at every opportunity they can.

Reviewers and fellow casual movie-goers all seemed to love 'Iron Man 3'. Speaking for myself, I have fond memories of watching the 'Iron Man' animated series with its comic book-faithful Mandarin, and I absolutely loved the film's twist.

Sure in the one shot it does allude to the real mandarin being out there

The interesting thing for me was that after 2 major movie villains (TDK's Joker and Skyfall's Silva), the trailer sold the Mandarin in the same vein. So when the twist came, it was a nice surprise - they weren't just subverting character, they were subverting type, which was a nice touch. In the One-shot "All Hail The King", we learn that there is a real Mandarin out there and that he's none-too-happy about Slattery's version of him.
I like the fact that the ten rings organisation from the first film links so nicely in as well (the Mandarin of course wearing ten rings and their logo appearing before his transmissions).
I get the feeling that Marvel are trying to do something different. Although not all movies have been to the same standard (Incredible Hulk, Iron-Man 2, possibly Thor 2), the fact that they link together in some way is rewarding for returning fans, without alienating newcomers.

You could say this about adaptations in general. LA Confidential or Bladerunner for that matter are some of my favourite books and films despite differing wildly from the original source material at times.
In regards to the article I really enjoyed ASM2 despite hating the first ASM. I know the classic GS story and it is a solid read but when I was in the cinema and I saw her in the green jacket I got a little choked up because I knew her time was up. Similarly in X-Men at various points.
As to IM3 I didn't hate the twist, I hated the ending.

I'm hoping GOTG proves to be a bit of curve ball and becomes a sleeper hit because it looks wild.

As someone who doesn't really read Iron Man comics I loved the Mandarin twist. I can see why fans were annoyed though. As a massive Batman fan I would be pissed if they did something similar with The Joker.

I also think that one issue with adapting some stories from comic books is that you're taking something episodic in nature and cramming it into a one and a half to two hour movie. The process guts the small, inconsequential to the plot, moments that build character and it makes the narrative a little poorer for it.
Contrast the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie with The Shawshank Redemption. One had to cut out a lot of little asides that added flavour and personality to it's universe and the other had time to make you care about the people you are watching.

Another interesting case study is Raimi's Spiderman trilogy. It spent two movies slowly and carefully building the blocks around Harry Osborn to get him to a place where he'd be prepared to kill his best friend. You got to know him and like him so his fall has weight, feels understandable and is tragic. It's just a shame that it all got screwed up with the addition of Venom. I've always felt that Raimi's Spiderman Trilogy should have been the Goblin Saga, the story of Harry Osborn as much as the story of Peter Parker. When you try to condense all that into one film? Well, we all kind of know what happens.

Some stories need a slow burn from background to foreground and I don't think Hollywood has quite grasped that yet.

the same can be said for all the x-men films

I felt the problems less so with any of the other films, maybe because they didn't tackle as beloved storylines as The Cure or Dark Phoenix, I highly rate X2 and First Class, despite obvious flaws, the first can be called silly but not bad!!!

I thought the Mandarin twist was brilliant; the Mandarin was a stupid villain in the comics, but he became a sly comment on who real-life supervillains like OBL most likely really are. It was pretty refreshing after the "I've successfully privatised World Peace" bent of the previous installment.

Loved Trevor, hated Snyderman.

The majority reaction to the Mandarin twist in IM3 wasn't negative. How could it be? Only a tiny proportion of the audience would've known there was a "real" mandarin. There was a loud and vocal group of people who were upset, but they were definitely the minority. This is the thing about adaptations in general. There's always some portion of the audience who'll see anything other than a direct translation as personal slight.

Superman has killed in the comics for years in the comics, including General Zod in one storyline.

They only used the base elements of the 'Extremis' story line and shoehorned the Mandarin into the plot of the movie. What could have been an excellent arch-nemesis for Iron Man turned into a cheap SNL sketch; diminishing a great comic book villain and removing the sense of resolution that started in the first Iron Man film. Not only that but the whole Mandarin trick kinda diminishes the first Iron Man movie when you think about it. The Mandarin is partly responsible for Tony Stark's transformation into Iron Man. His shadow has hung over Tony for this entire time so it would of given a great sense of pathos for Tony to confront the man who so radically changed his life. But instead of that we got Guy Pearce with flame powers and a lame motivation for hating Tony Stark. All that build-up from the first film suddenly fell flat and now when I watch 'Iron Man' again that reality will always be in the back of my mind. They didn't have enough faith in their own villain to adapt him into the film universe. They didn't have faith in their audience and played it safe just to be politically correct. Only now that Marvel has realized their mistake with the Mandarin that they are trying to rectify it in a future Iron Man movie.

They only used the base elements of the 'Extremis' story line and shoehorned the Mandarin into the plot of the movie. What could have been an excellent arch-nemesis for Iron Man turned into a cheap SNL sketch; diminishing a great comic book villain and removing the sense of resolution that started in the first Iron Man film. Not only that but the whole Mandarin trick kinda diminishes the first Iron Man movie when you think about it. The Mandarin is partly responsible for Tony Stark's transformation into Iron Man. His shadow has hung over Tony for this entire time so it would of given a great sense of pathos for Tony to confront the man who so radically changed his life. But instead of that we got Guy Pearce with flame powers and a lame motivation for hating Tony Stark. All that build-up from the first film suddenly fell flat and now when I watch 'Iron Man' again that reality will always be in the back of my mind. They didn't have enough faith in their own villain to adapt him into the film universe. They didn't have faith in their audience and played it safe just to be politically correct. Only now that Marvel has realized their mistake with the Mandarin that they are trying to rectify it in a future Iron Man movie..

Yes there is a comic where he kills Zod with Kryptonite. It wasn't a popular story at the time and that writer's run on Superman comics is not generally loved (I wonder why?). Superman and Doomsday killed each other. But that's not the point I was making. I've never said Superman has never killed in the comics. There are 75 years worth of Superman comics. You can count the number of times he's 'killed' on one hand probably. For most of that 75 years the general theme has been that he doesn't. Because Superman is the ideal. The hero other superheroes look up to. So I just find it an odd choice that when they reboot the franchise they write a scene where Supes 'has' to kill in his first appearance in the costume. Now that decision alone isn't great but I could maybe live with it. What bothers me more is by the end of that pretty long film Earth would literally be much better off if Superman had never arrived. All he's done is save a few people on an oil rig compared to lead Zod to Earth, smash up Smallville, smash up Metropolis and watch his dad die in a tornado (another terrible story choice).

Yeah! I'm angry because I didn't know exactly what the Mandarin would be like from the trailer. I wanted evil foreign man with facial hair and magic rings. And then it wasn't like that in the film. And I was angry. And then Marvel did that one-shot that hinted the Mandarin I want might be real. But that made me angry too. Because I don't want it anymore.
In all seriousness I liked the twist and I don't care about the Mandarin as IMO he is not a 'classic' villain. He was a dated stereotype baddie from the 60's that has only been made remotely interesting by modern writers in the last 10-15 years (maybe less). How? By changing quite a lot of the 'classic/stereotype' Mandarin traits.

The stereotype nerd turned suave villain in Ironman3 spoiled it 4 me. I wouldve preferred fu manchu with alien rings. This was a post-Avengers movie afterall. They should have toned down the whole Pepper pots nag-fest, didnt we go through this in the twice already. Its been beaten into the audience that they are a thing, move on.

"I wanted evil foreign man with facial hair and magic rings."

And there lies the problem, especially if you're making a film including a villain called 'the Mandarin' with Chinese collaboration.

The Mandarin is, for better or worse, the legacy of Fu Manchu and Yellow Peril characters. What the film did was, at least, smart. It used this facet of the character's creation within the MCU, making the Mandarin a purposely racist construct (Arab terrorists basically are the new 'foreign menace' in the Western world) which is used by an American profiteer to divert attention away from his own actions.

It's also a great commentary on how modern audiences have become gullible to the media. The Mandarin shoots an unnamed lawyer working for an unspecified American company, and no one asks to verify if what they're seeing is all true before bringing out their guns.

(I'd send you a link to a blog post I wrote on the whole issue and the relation to 'All Hail the King', but DoG wouldn't let that be posted in the comment.)

They actually did something similar in Neil Gaiman's brilliant 'Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?'. It was a very meta-textual story about the different interpretations of Batman and how the character perseveres not matter what changes he goes through.

The interesting thing about 'Spider-Man 3' and Venom is that Raimi doesn't shy away from saying that it was the higher-up's decision to include him. Harry Osborn had a character arc across the three films that built up to his turn as the Green Goblin and what followed.

Unfortunately, the same executive interference which brought in Venom with Raimi seems to have messed up 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2'. Harry is introduced - and brilliantly played by Dehaan - made to turn against Peter, become Green Goblin, do what he does with Gwen Stacey, and set up the Sinister SIx all in one film. One can't but compare that to Harry in the Raimi films and the comic book encounters between Spidey and the Goblin before that eventful night atop the bridge. The newest film comes out seeming like an executive-driven stepping board for the third film and 'The Sinister Six' film and the rest of the Spider-Man cinematic universe rather than a good story in its own right.

Too right, clearly my memory seems to favour negative commenters over other opinions and actual reviews. Updated the piece.

Indeed, I was referring to the noisy negative minority not the quieter, happier majority. Amended the article.

Even as a casual viewer and someone who does not know much about Iron Man, I did not like it.

I liked how evil he seemed at first. But as soon as he turned into a silly English actor I lost interest in the film.

I actually dislike Man of Steel far more than anything in Iron Man 3 (which has it's moments..) I hate how filmakers will take one out of character moment or run in the comics and say, "..see that happened. So we're really being true to the comics..." (When all they're doing is justifying it by using a previous bad bit of storytelling..)
Yes they've been comics where Superman has killed. But they are FAR outnumbered by the amount of regular stories where he is the last superhero who would go down that route.
It's like as if Marvel had decided to make the film characterisation of Captain America completely beholden to the Ultimate bigoted version..

Well said! And TY for not spoiling X-Men which I plan to see next weekend. :)

Its funny how they dumb down and bastardize all those comic book story lines just to squeeze out as much money as possible of the given material, which they clearly had no respect in the first place for.

It was awesome being sat in the cinema and hearing the gasps as the audience got the twist. Even though I knew it was coming it made that cinema experience one of the best I've had.

"brilliantly played by Dehaan"
And that's what really bugs me about Amazing Spiderman 2; when I heard he was cast, I was excited about it. As soon as I heard he'd become Goblin in the same film, I was happy to never watch it because I knew it was a stupid decision.

I do agree that the decision to kill of Pa Kent in that tornado scene didn't make any sense and I would have preferred that the character be kept alive. However, Clark did save the Earth from an unprovoked alien attack which could have killed billions if he did nothing. As for Metropolis getting smashed up, I've seen that done dozens of times in the comics and cartoons so I don't buy this fake outrage over that incident. The thing that bugs me about Superman is that he is placed on this pedestal where he has to be this perfect being with no flaws or serious struggles. He has the perfect life: great family, good looks; has a straight job; beautiful girlfriend and all the great superpowers, hardly any sacrifices. To me, that gets boring really fast and hard to identify with. They almost have to kill Pa Kent in order to add some drama into the narrative.

The other question is "Why should I look up to Superman?" What has he done to earn that kind of respect? It has to come from somewhere. In the movie 'Man of Steel' Superman at that point in his origins has no allegorical weight to inspire anyone because he is new to the game and his place in it. In other words, he hasn't earned the right to be inspirational because he hasn't sacrificed anything or proven himself before the world. That is why he killed Zod, to show that he cares for humanity more than even his own race. That is a sacrifice. If Superman were replaced by a police officer or a soldier in that situation and they did the same thing they would be called heroes.

The Mandarin has been grandfathered in as Iron Man's arch-nemesis over the years. Sure he started out as a stereotype in the beginning but has evolved over the decades. Today the Mandarin is the Marvel equivalent of Ra's al Ghul in DC. The Mandarin is the only villain in Iron Man's rogues gallery who can stand on equal footing with the hero. He is wealthy, a capable fighter, leads a large organization, and has powerful weapons at his disposal. Plus his ten rings are alien technology used by a race of alien dragons called the Makluans, where the villain Fin Fang Foom originates. The Mandarin could have been used to expand the MCU to include the Makluans in the expanding pantheon of alien races that are appearing. There is so much more interesting stories that could have been told featuring the Mandarin. That is why I believe Marvel really missed an opportunity here by not going the extra mile and just played it safe.

There's some good points there. But no Superman, no alien invasion (they came looking for him). And Pa Kent dies of a heart attack in the comics. Brilliant. For all Superman's power he can't save him. In the film he could save him. And doesn't. And it feels weird. Especially since it's to protect a secret identity Lois works out very quickly (because he's no good at hiding it and already revealed it to his classmates). The level of destruction in MOS is much, much bigger than any other superhero film. Plus Superman does not care one bit. It's Superman who blows up the gas station in Smallville by ramming Zod into it. If there'd even been one tiny scene where Superman makes an effort to avoid smashing things up or lead the fight away it would be better.
I've said it before I enjoyed MOS. I thought it was a decent sci-fi film. I just don't think it was a good 'Superman' film. But hey, maybe it's not meant to be one and that's why the word Superman isn't really used.

I agree. In the comics the Mandarin has now been made interesting. But it's a 2-3 hour film where Stark is the main focus. It takes a LOT of time and effort to give depth to the Mandarin and move him away from slightly racist stereotype (and at the end of the day he's STILL an evil foreign man called the Mandarin-won't play great in China). So they did something else with him. Which I thought was a very clever twist. I believe with the All Hail the King one shot they've hinted the real thing is out there. I think that's enough.

You also bring up another thing about Superman that I find really strange and was glad it was addressed in 'Man of Steel'. That thing is the relationship between Superman and Lois. Traditionally, Superman always hid his identity from Lois while masquerading as Clark, yet still pursued a relationship with her. I always found that really creepy because if you love and trust this woman, why go out of your way to lie to her and hide things from her? That seems to be a very dishonest and asinine thing to do and goes against the "ideal" that Superman is supposed to represent. Plus, it makes Lois look like a complete ditz, since she is supposed to be an award winning journalist and all. I am glad 'MoS' put to rest that silly plot thread by the end of the film.

Ha. So true. Some journalist she is. Although I do like the comic where Batman says he believes Commissioner Gordon and Perry White are too clever not to know their identities but obviously choose to ignore it.

Yeah you gotta love comic book inconsistencies. Anyway, good talking with you. I'm getting tired so goodnight. Peace.

Good talking to you too.

Totally get that, but while there was still a big bad out there to get, it didn't lose anything for me.

Would've been a tad anticlimactic had Tony managed to take out this mega terrorist using a few things he'd cobbled together in a workshop.

I think the real problem here is studios underestimating their audience and/or source material. What audiences want, what they deserve, is a true to the source, live action, retelling of the original material done seriously and respectfully.

What we go to the theater to see, is what the Lord of the Rings trilogy brought to the table. The director didn't see fit to camp the story up, there was no need to rewrite everything because he didn't think his audience was too dumb, to smart, or just wouldn't believe that hobbits, dwarves, elves, and orcs could exist.
Hollywood has just recently began taking these movies seriously, and as a result, made some of the best, most enjoyable, and most profitable movies of all time. Before the last decade, we got superhero movies full of camp and cheese, with silly one liners, even sillier costumes, laughable plots and dialogue, generally made for children. What they are beginning to realize, I think, is that their main audience is a lot older then they expected. We are the people that grew up reading this material. We know a lot of it by heart. Changing something like...the Mandarin for instance, is the equivalent of what George Lucas did in Star Wars Ep. I when he made the Force into Medichlorians. Not only does it show a complete lack of faith in the audience and the source material, it ruins the movie, and runs the risk of ruining the entire franchise.
...and that, would be a shame. Since this franchise is just now truly coming into it's own, has a dedicated built in fan-base of millions, and has proven that it can and will make huge sums of money at the box office.
Just film the stories we know and love as they are. Don't change things that don't need changing.....Thanos doesn't need to secretly be just a scarred human in disguise, Lady Death doesn't need to be figurative, the Black Panther (which I heard they was working on) doesn't need to be changed into a fat Asian woman for political correctness reasons. Just put the stories onto film, nothing more, nothing less.

In reference to the Mandarin, Have none if you seen the Marvel one shot "All hail the king" yet?

If not watch it, it nullifies all comments on Ironman 3 moot and I believe as with all things marvel was planned from the beginning.

Agreed! For me, Mandarin strongly resembled Ra's al Ghul and the plot right until the reveal – the breaking of Batman we've seen in "The Dark Knight Rises". The twist showed that the writers were very aware of that and didn't want to tread the same water, so subverting this story and parodying it was a very nice move that I really appreciated.

Sponsored Links