Alternate Cover: Comics ideas Hollywood can’t handle

Wolverine with bony claws? The Hulk playing chess? Hollywood may not be ready for this...

Young Wolverine.

A recent TV spot for the new Wolverine movie has confirmed the appearance of something that I, and many comics fans, would scarcely have believed possible. The film will feature a flashback to Wolverine’s childhood, showing with certainty that Wolverine once had bone claws.

The bone claws idea was always an easy one to ignore. Up until Wolverine #75, when Logan’s claws emerged in dramatic fashion after Magneto ripped the adamantium off his bones, everyone – characters, writers, and readers – had assumed the claws were added by Weapon X. Even though Wolverine later got his adamantium back, the bone claws later formed a major part of Origin, the series that finally told where Wolverine came from – in the comics, at least, they were here to stay.

But even so, it’s not something that’s an easy sell to a wider, movie audience. The more complicated you make an idea, the less well it translates to other mediums, and you only have to look at the various ways the character of Venom – a character with a comics origin that ties into Marvel’s 1980s mega-crossover Secret Wars – has been adapted to see that. Arriving on earth as a meteorite, as a genetically-engineered anti-cancer suit, or hidden in a rock on the moon, no-one can find a way to make the “alien symbiote” idea work within the context of a Spider-Man who isn’t inherently part of a wider Marvel Universe. For further evidence, see the way Phoenix was treated in X-Men 3, and the way Galactus was treated in Fantastic Four 2 – even the way Robin was treated in the 90s Batman movies.

Hollywood loves to mess with any concept that might prove even slightly difficult for audiences to accept. Before recently, I’d have put money on the fact that no movie would ever give Wolverine bone claws, but now I’m eating those words. With that in mind, here are the top 3 comic concepts I don’t think we’ll ever see in movies, in the hope that I’ll be proven wrong.

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3. Iron Man: Doomquest. One of the most fondly remembered Iron Man arcs involves the character travelling through time with Dr. Doom, back to the Age of King Arthur where the two ally with opposite forces in an attempt to return home. The match-up works because the two characters represent opposite ends of the “Armoured Knight” spectrum – Iron Man the golden, shining Hero, and Doom the black-suited aggressor. Throw in both men’s competitive intellect, Iron Man’s hatred of magic and Doom’s ability as a master sorcerer and there’s a multitude of themes to play off. Unfortunately, even if you could get the Marvel films to cross over, there’s no way that the movie Doom and Iron Man would ever have the same kind of interplay that the comics versions do, and the idea of magic in the same universe as Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark is… a poor fit.

2. Days of Future Past. It’s a classic X-Men story where the future is revealed as an anti-mutant dystopia ruled by mutant-hunting Sentinel robots. X-Men fans have been dying to see the Sentinels in the movies ever since the first X-Men movie was announced almost a decade ago, but so far, the best we got was the barest hint of a “giant robot” in X-Men 3. Audiences can accept the idea of mutants, but factor in giant robots and time travel and it won’t be long before the critics start claiming that the pudding has been over-egged. See also: The “Age of Apocalypse” storyline, where Xavier’s time-travelling son kills him before he can form the X-Men leading to a vastly different future, and Cable, the son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor (a clone of Jean Grey) raised 4000 years in the future to overthrow Apocalypse.

1. A “merged” Hulk. I seem to mention this every couple of weeks, but that simply reflects my desire to see the character treated seriously. My most wanted – and the one I think most unlikely – comics-to-screen translation is the “merged” Hulk: a being with the mind of Bruce Banner and the body of the Hulk. Never mind the fact that two big budget Hulk films have received a lukewarm reception – the idea of the Hulk being a man who turns into a monster is too culturally ingrained, rivalling Spider-Man as Marvel’s most recognisable property. Would anyone want to blow $100 million on a radical re-think of that? I wish they would, but even if I see it, I’ll have a hard time believing it. Other Hulk concepts I want to see on the big screen – but don’t expect to – include “the Maestro”, the evil “smart” Hulk from the future, and She-Hulk, a character that could absolutely carry her own movie, but would be an incredibly hard sell.

James writes Alternate Cover every Monday at Den Of Geek. His previous column can be found here.