I’ve been sick of the Watchmen movie for about a year and a half now, and the damn thing hasn’t even opened yet. We’re now just a few days from release, and stories about it are reaching critical mass. I can’t hardly wait for this weekend, not because I’m particularly eager to see the film, but rather because it means everyone will finally stop talking about it.
Here’s one kinda sorta Watchmen-related story that I didn’t mind reading at all though. It’s from The Onion’s A.V. Club: “In the wake of Watchmen: 24 more graphic novels we’d like to see made into movies.”
Have you read it yet? If not, go ahead and read it. I’ll wait. I don’t have much else going on at the minute. Seriously, go; I’ll be fine.
Oh, are you back already? Okay, well as you now know, the list is premised on the fact that Watchmen would have been completely impossible to make right even a few years ago, but things seem to have worked out well enough that it now at least has a fighting chance of not being terrible, and here are 24 other graphic novels that the A.V. Clubbers would like to see made by well-intentioned individuals.
Now that we’ve all already their list, why don’t we parse it? Because what else would we blog about tonight? Another children’s book?
1.) Frank Miller’s Ronin
They rightly mention Miller’s critical and commercial failure with The Spirit as something that might taint the chances of much more from Miller in Hollywood, and in an industry where you’re only as good as your last project, I think the movies are going to regard any more Miller with a great deal of suspicion in the future.
For that reason alone, I’d much rather see a The Dark Knight Returns or All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder film, because Miller may only get so many strikes before he’s out. Half the time I spent watching Sin City, particularly the Hard Good-bye portion, all I could think about was how awesome a Robert Rodriguez-adapted Dark Knight featuring Mickey Rourke with a prosthetic face playing Batman would be.
2. Jeff Smith’s Bone
I know Smith has had some interest and a lot of frustration when it comes to making a Bone movie in the past, and it’s clearly something the cartoonist is interested in, but it’s something I have very little faith in. The core pleasure of the comics is that it’s the sort of story that could only be a comic—it stars anthropomorphic bones for God’s sake!—that I can’t imagine a film doing it justice. Sure, you could do a Space Jam live action/animation mash-up to get the same cartoons-in-a-non-cartoon-world effect, and straight 2-D, stop-motion and maaayyyybbee computer animation could do it something approaching justice, but I’d be damn skeptical.
3.) Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid On Earth
4.) JLA: Year One
5.) JLA: New World Order
That’s the 12-part Mark Waid/Barry Kitson maxi-series set in the no-longer-relevant post-Crisis, pre-Infinite Crisis continuity and the first arc of the Grant Morrison/Howard Porter/John Dell JLA, respectively. I liked both of these quite a bit; Morrison’s JLA run is one of my all-time favorite comics.
But I can’t see either of these at all working in a film version.
Year One has the benefit of keeping Superman and Batman to a minimum and ignoring Wonder Woman, which is a good way to do a Justice League movie, as you won’t step on the Batman or Superman franchises, and you don’t have to agonize over how to do a movie Wonder Woman in a movie other than a Wonder Woman movie when doing Wonder Woman in a Wonder Woman movie seems to be such a challenge. And if it’s hard to imagine making a hit movie centered on Black Canary or Martian Manhunter or Aquaman, well putting ‘em all together like this sure would seem to increase the odds.
The story would need substantial re-writing though, as Waid intentionally weaved it as a series of ongoing conflicts that occur between the original Gardner Fox-written Justice League stories, so there’s a whole lot of insane stuff going on around the edges, and a lot of difficult to deal with continuity issues. Do you keep Batman, Superman, The Doom Patrol and The JSA in there? What about all those cameos? And if you remove them, what do you have left? Oh, and Hollywood will wanna ditch the Apellexians because no one’s going to believe crystal giants and tree men and a giant fucking yellow space bird.
And once you lose that too, what’s left, exactly?
As for JLA: New World Order, it’s a very smart, very clever superhero story, which, like the rest of Morrison’s run, was basically a radical new take on an old standard. In this case, an alien invasion. But the story hinges on the world turning on the heroes we know and love (whom moviegoing audiences would be meeting for the first time, in the case of Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern and maybe even Flash, Aquaman and Wonder Woman, depending on how well-versed the audience is in old TV shows and cartoons). And the neat twist—holy shit, the aliens are evil versions of Martian Manhunter!—probably won’t be as effective if you weren’t someone interested in reading about Martian Manhunter on a monthly basis anyway.
That said, I think there’s definitely the potential for a cycle of movies based on Morrison’s JLA, which was essentially on long story about the superheroes place in the world as a check on an inevitable apocalypse, culminating in the evolution of humanity into super-humanity (yes, Final Crisis was just JLA re-told with more dreary, mannered artwork). But so much of it is steeped in DC minutia I have a hard time imagining how things like Fifth Dimensional beings and the Jack Kirby space god myth cycle and angels-as-aliens would scan to the uninitiated.
I suppose a producer could always just hire Morrison to re-write his JLA for the screen, but man, what are the chances of a JLA movie based on an existing comic story actually working out?
6). Art Spiegelman’s Maus
Before Persepolis, I would have said fuck no, don’t even think about it. But a straight 2-D animation version of this could probably work out okay. And it’d totally win crazy Oscars.
7.) The Luna Brothers’ The Sword
I’ve never read an issue of this. What’s the verdict? Is it good?
8). Craig Thompson’s Blankets
Well, you’d have to edit that peeing scene…
I think the story of this book would translate well to the screen, but the storytelling would be lost, at which point I’m not sure what the point of adapting it would be.
I’d love to see an animated Good-bye, Chunky Rice though…
As the A.V. Club mentions, this one’s actually already in the works. It’s kind of an odd project in that it assumes the existence of a world full of superheroes and supervillains, which is somewhat problematic, although I suppose a film could easily go The Incredibles route and just deal in generic or analogue versions of Marvel heroes. A Runaways movie that has nothing to do with Marvel continuity would be a fairly different animal, but it wouldn’t be impossible to make, and would have a fair chance of being a decent enough movie.
I wonder if they’d cast a Gertrude who looked as thin as the one cover artist Joe Chen painted, or as zaftig as the one interior artist and co-creator Adrian Alphona drew…?
10.) Kyle Baker’s Why I Hate Saturn
I don’t disagree with a damn thing in this write-up, although I think that doing a film version of a Kyle Baker comic that isn’t animated would be a bit a waste.
11.) Criminal: The Dead And The Dying
I’ve been meaning to read Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal in trade, but I’ve yet to get started. I assume they’re pretty good though, right…?
12). The Sandman: Season Of Mists
I thought the suggestion of the trade collecting an arc later in the series was an interesting idea, and this might actually be the most accessible story arc, but I honestly hope they never, ever make a Sandman movie, as I think the series is pretty much un-filmable, and even if an excellent director familiar with the material made a film, a great deal would be lost in shunting the story from one medium to another.
Now Sandman Mystery Theatre on the other hand…
13.) Dan Clowes’ Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron
I think I should probably reread this, as now I can’t remember a damn thing about it. I liked the Ghost World movie, which was based on a particular graphic novel, but I did not like Art School Confidential, which was based on a few shorter strips here and there, for whatever that’s worth.
14.) Hellblazer: Freezes Over
I don’t think there’s much danger of any Hellblazer movies after Constantine.
I didn’t read this particular arc; I haven’t read Hellblazer regularly in a good long time now. If they ever do make another film based on the comics though, I wonder if they’ll be more likely to use the Hellblazer name, so as to distance the new film from the original. Also, they should cast a blonde British guy and give him a brown coat to wear, instead of a black haired American in a black trench coat.
15.) James Sturm’ The Golem’s Mighty Swing
“It’s a Jewish A League of Their Own!” This would actually translate to film pretty effortlessly, fitting neatly into both the sports movie and the issues movie slots that Hollywood is very comfortable working within.
16.) 16. Dave Sim’s Cerebus: High Society
Okay, so I end up reading comic books and/or Internet articles and blog posts about comic books right before bed pretty frequently, right? So I tend to have comics-related dreams quite often. The other week I had one where I was in visiting the set of a Cerebus TV show, and the director was explaining how it was inspired by Alf. To create the Cerebus character, they used a Muppet and filmed him from the waist up when he was talking, and when they were showing his whole body in a medium or long shot, they put a little person in a Cerebus-suit, just like they did with Alf on Alf.
I’d watch that.
The A.V. Club actually builds an interesting case for it, but a Cerebus film is one I simply can’t imagine. Not while awake, anyway.
17.) Ty Templeton’s Stig’s Inferno
Huh. You know, somehow I’ve managed to never read this either, and I love Templeton’s work. I should probably get on this.
18). Michel Rabagliati’s Paul Goes Fishing
This didn’t exactly scream “this should be a movie!” to me while I was reading it, and now that someone brought up the fact that it should be a movie, I still don’t see it. I’ll agree with this part though: “If nothing else, Rabagliati deserves the kind of career boost that a big-screen adaptation could bring.”
19.) Paul Chadwick’s Concrete: Strange Armor
I realize I’m inviting you all to lose all respect for me as a comics critic by saying this in public, but I’ve never read Concrete either.
Ha ha ha ha ha! Look, I’d love to see James Robinson’s version of The Shade on the screen as much as anyone, but come on, how would this even be possible? If you take all the non-Starman, DCU stuff out, you’re not left with very much to work with, and you’d be losing a lot of the best parts of the series. The family feuds between the Starmen and the Mists and some of the unique qualities of Opal City might drive a decent enough movie, but you’d be losing so many of the details that made the comic such a rich experience, it doesn’t even seem worth attempting.
Okay, I could see this.
22). Charles Burns’ Black Hole
Another one that’s apparently in the works already. I never finished this. I can’t quite wrap my head around a Neil Gaiman/Roger Avary script, and I suppose the fact that it’s been junked, according to the A.V. Club, is a good thing.
23.) Richard and Wendy Pini’s Elfquest: Fire And Flight
I’m actually surprised that this hadn’t come out by, oh, 2003 or so.
24). The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
A-fucking-men. Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil’s first two LOEG series were so tightly plotted and constructed that they read like the storyboards for extremely well-made Hollywood action movies—O’Neil even handled the costume design and art direction already!—that it’s still confounding that the resultant movie ended up being LXG instead of, well, a film that just used the comics as the storyboards.
Considering how successful the individual components of the teams have been throughout film history (How many times has Mina Harker been in movies? 600?), and that 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds, The Island of Dr. Moreau are in a more-or-less constant state of development for film, that adaptation should have been a slam fucking dunk. If they actually adapted the comic, that is.
Oh well, maybe one of these days someone will adapt an Alan Moore comic well.
Maybe this weekend…?