It's interesting how many people think movies based on comics are a new phenomenon, but they're actually fairly common and in fact moreso as time has gone on. This week's 2 Guns, for example, is based off a Boom! Studios miniseries. So, for the sake of informing and enlightening, here's a trip through some of the last movies you'd expect to be based on an actual comic book.
Also, since we're nerds, we also read all these books and have some insight into just how faithful these movies are. And of course, if we missed any, let us know in the comments.
The Movie: John Hughes' most remembered science fiction movie, largely remember for the fact that it illustrates that he knows nothing about computers, women, or unfortunate implications as a bolt of lightning, a Barbie doll, and a government mainframe somehow combine to create Kelly LeBrock.
The Movie: Chow-Yun Fat and Stifler awkwardly beat up Nazis.
The Comic: A tribute to Asian pop culture by none other than Michael Avon Oeming, currently working on Powers: The Bureau and The Victories.
How Faithful Is It?: Put it to you this way: Kar, Seann William Scott's character, is Asian in the original comic. Let's just say that after the Nazi punching opening, the movie and the book... diverge substantially. Despite John Woo's effusive praise, the comic is a lot more Wong Kar Wai than Woo, and the movie struggles as a result.
The Movie: Viggo Mortensen has anger-sex with Maria Bello and uses his bare hands to pretty much destroy anybody who pisses him off and then some.
The Comic: A Parallax Press original graphic novel from John Wagner of Judge Dredd fame and Vince Locke on art.
How Faithful Is It?: Aside from the basic premise, not even remotely, but in the end, that's not a drawback. Wagner's comic is very much about regret about one's moral failures and the damage caused by their fallout, while the movie, from David Cronenberg, asks whether or not people can truly change their essential nature, and if so, whether those changes run deep enough.
Also, as amazing as this may sound to fans of the movie, Wagner's book has the bigger gross-out. Seriously.
The Movie: A black-ops team is out for revenge against its handler, who turns out to be a massively unethical crook.
The Comic: An intricate spy thriller from Andy Diggle and Jock that reboots a DC concept about a squad of soldiers with terrible luck, although it's really an "in-name-only" concept.
How Faithful Is It?: The movie itself is overly slick compared to the grittiness of the comic, but they tried to fit everything from Diggle and Jock's book into one movie... which is kind of the entire problem, as the book unfolded over 32 issues. The comic is probably one of the best thrillers on the comics page, but the movie... well, let's say this would be a good candidate for a Cliff's notes, if you needed one for the flick.
The Movie: Every older actor you have ever loved, with guns and explosions. Also it's really funny.
The Comic: An action thriller from Warren Ellis with art by Cully Hamner.
How Faithful Is It?: Not a bit. The movie is pretty good; a light-hearted action-comedy about senior citizens killing a bunch of snotty young punks and reminiscing about the Cold War. Warren Ellis' original story, on the other hand, is a serious consideration of what happens when you drag a man who has done nothing but kill on command for years out of retirement and expect him to just start doing his job again: In other words, nothing good.
The Movie: Kate Beckinsale tries to solve a murder mystery in Antarctica that amazingly is not the fault of an alien lifeform.
The Comic: The first major hit from one Greg Rucka, with art from the equally great Steve Lieber.
How Faithful Is It?: To the broad strokes of the plot, very much so. To the tone and spirit of Rucka's work? That's another matter. The comic is a cleverly thought-out noir supported by Lieber's gorgeous use of blank space; the movie turns it into a cop show.
The Movie: Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg try to outcharm each other while figuring whose $50 million they were set up to steal.
The Comic: Essentially exactly the same thing, as plotted by Steven Grant and drawn by Mateus Santolouco and released in 2011.
How Faithful Is It?: We haven't seen this one yet, but, aside from adding more explosions, this seems fairly faithful to the actual plot of the book, as well as the buddy-cop tone. If you haven't read 2 Guns, we do recommend it: It's a lighthearted and goofy heist story that layers on the complications. But read it after you see the movie, obviously.