On the heels of our X-Force discussion came a valuable and intelligent idea: Just erasing the concept of certain comic book movies from existence. This is an idea we can get behind, not least because, let’s face it, there are some painful, painful comic book movies out there. And they kinda need to go.
So, as a humble method of discussion, we present these five, with reasons why. We’ll include YouTube clips for those who might have forgotten, and we’ll limit it to movies that saw wide theatrical release. And we’ll suggest some replacements.
The Comic Book: While not terribly progressive by modern standards, Steel was at least a sincere effort to make a mainstream Black superhero who fought crime and wasn’t a stereotype.
Why We Need To Forget It: That clip? Up above? That’s the best part of the movie. Steel was originally intended to be a spin-off of the Death of Superman movie where Superman would be forced out of Lois Lane’s crotch. They actually went ahead with the spin-off when surprisingly that movie went into development hell.
Replace It With: A big budget Steel movie from a Black filmmaker. Let’s see what somebody memorable can do with $100 million and a lead who can act. Oh, and set it in Washington D.C. this time.
The Comic Book: A profoundly influential superhero comic strip from Will Eisner, The Spirit is essentially reading for comics fans and still holds up as rich, dynamic work today.
Why We Need To Forget It: One of those influenced was Frank Miller, who apparently decided what Eisner’s work needed to be better understood by modern audiences was a terrible script and kitten murder. Seriously, there’s a scene where a kitten is murdered, solely to establish that a character is a bad guy. It’s that kind of movie.
Replace It With: A light-hearted, traditionally animated film by Darwyn Cooke, who did a superb run with the character recently.
The Comic Book: Lone Wolf And Cub, written by Kazuo Koike and drawn by Goseki Kojima, is a carefully researched depiction of feudal Japan following Ogami Itto, a ronin looking to redeem the family name, and his young son Daigoro. The book itself is one of the most beloved manga and inspired both writers and artists in both East and West, and the subject of a highly respectful and well-done translation from Dark Horse.
Why We Need To Forget The Movie: The Lone Wolf And Cub movies, in the original Japanese, are not bad for what they are, although they’re compromised somewhat by low budgets and the problems plaguing, well, the entire Japanese film industry at the time.
Shogun Assassin, on the other hand, is a badly dubbed English version that pretty much runs the plot of the movies through a shredder. It has its fans mostly because it introduced the originals and the manga to many people, but even they’ll admit it’s… variable.
Replace It With: A HBO-supported series, Game Of Thrones-style, with subtitles and a real budget.
The Comic Book: A fairly straightforward superhero book from Dark Horse, Barb Wire, created by John Arcudi, was part of Comics’ Greatest World, and was a fun, solid miniseries.
Why We Need To Forget The Movie: If there’s ever a book about comic book adaptations butchering the source material, John Arcudi will have a chapter all to himself, probably in the Dark Horse section. He wrote a lot of the material that became the basis for the film adaptation of The Mask, for example. But Barb Wire is a case where a solid book was turned into a star vehicle for… Pamela Anderson.
By the way, did we mention that the movie is essentially remake of Casablanca? Really. All the leather stuff apparently happened off-screen in the original.
Replace It With: Realistically, just a good superhero movie based on something from Dark Horse.
The Comic Book: To be fair, the comic was, and remains, pretty much unadaptable to film: It’s more or less a direct satire of the absurdity of comics in general by having them commented on by a cigar-smoking talking duck. The books themselves, however, are a hoot; check them out.
Why We Need To Forget It: I’m not going to lie; I grew up watching this movie and there’s a warm space in my heart for it. That said, it’s a movie about a guy in a duck suit repeatedly molesting Lea Thompson. Is there anything about that sentence you really want to remember?
Replace It With: You know what, Marvel, we’re kind of good with this one staying on the page.