There have been many great adaptations of comic books for television and film over the years. By way of example, I give you: The Avengers (Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Cap all included here), Donner’s Superman (Christopher Reeve), Nolan’s Batman series, Batman the animated series, The Spectacular Spider-man cartoon, Young Justice, and even the first two X-men movies had their moments. However, there have been some stinkers as well. Again by way of example: Daredevil, X-men 3, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Wolverine, Fantastic Four, Steel, Catwoman, Batman and Robin, and Superman IV. What do ALL of the bad superhero movies have in common? They all take massive and arbitrary liberties with the source material.
First off, if Joss Whedon has taught us anything, it is that if you are not already a fan of the property, don’t make a movie about it. Take Ang Lee, for example. He made one of my favorite movies of all time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Then he made Hulk. It is clear that Ang Lee was not a Hulk fan before the movie, because he got nearly everything wrong that a fan might hope for in a Hulk movie. In one sentence: I want the Hulk to beat the ever-loving crap out of almost everything at the climax of the movie, but what I got was the Hulk hugging a giant amoebae that was his dad or something… Fail. But I digress. Here are the bullet points for what arbitrary nonsense ruins movies:
Daredevil: Bullseye, one of the coolest villains of ALL TIME, is made Irish with a literal bulls-eye tattooed on his head. Dumb. Arbitrary.
X-men 3: Cyclops dies!!! At the beginning of the Phoenix saga!!??? Did you miss the part about the Phoenix Saga being about the love between Jean and Scott??? Prof X dies? Have you ever even read X-men? Dumb. Arbitrary.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Two words – Tom. Sawyer. Dumb. Arbitrary.
Wolverine: Taking Deadpool goes from a snarky, hilarious merc with a disfigured face to an abomination with swords for arms and his mouth sown shut. That should be enough, but Will. I. Am.? What about adding Gambit in there in a way that made him currently like 60 years old? Dumb. Arbitrary.
Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom. Not scarred. Lame Costume. Was in the same ship as the FF? Dumb. Arbitrary.
Steel: Not related to Superman? Dumb. Arbitrary.
Catwoman: Wow. Too much to count. Not Selina Kyle? Not White? Not really clothed? Not related to Batman at all? Dumb. Arbitrary.
Batman and Robin: Nipples on batsuit? Technicolor settings in Gotham? Smiling Batman? Dumb. Arbitrary.
Superman IV: Lex Luthor with Hair? Dumb. Arbitrary.
My ire has been raised here because of the new CW show coming soon called Arrow. This show follows Oliver Queen (AKA Green Arrow) as a young person, ala Smallville. However, the supporting cast has been modified heavily. For one, it appears that Moira Queen is going to the the Lex Luthor to Ollie’s Clark. While she has never appeared in the comics, and when mentioned, she comes off looking like a saint with a killer chili recipe until she is killed protecting Ollie, now she seems like she is going to be all controlling and bring the drama. Dumb. Arbitrary.
Second, we find out Ollie has a sister, never before mentioned in the comics. Dumb. Arbitrary.
Third, we are introduced to Ollie’s long time girlfriend, Laurel Lance. AJAGHJAGAJGAHGJJAFAHF!!!!!!!! This one really gets me. In the comics, Ollie is often paired with his soul mate, the Black Canary, AKA DINAH laurel Lance. Why the change? Dumb. Arbitrary. Also, in the funny books, she and Ollie don’t meet until much after both of them have been heroes. Why change it? Dumb. Arbitrary.
Fourth, DINAH’s dad is Larry Lance in the comics, here changed to Quentin Lance (or something). Why the change? “Larry” not sound cool enough? Dumb. Arbitrary.
Last, and most irritating by far, is that everyone knows that Green Arrow’s city is STAR city. It is Gotham to Batman, Metropolis to Superman, Coast City to Green Lantern. But in the new Arrow show, they have changed the name of Ollie’s stomping ground to Starling City. Starling? Are you freaking serious? That is the dumbest sounding name ever. But why the need to change it in the first place? Did Star City just not sound lame enough for you? Dumb. Arbitrary.
So it seems that I could have done ok with any one of these changes on its own, but the dumbness and arbitrariness of the changes en masse convinces me that the CW is not in any way treating the source material with the same respect that the Smallville folks did when they engaged the Superman mythos. I’ll watch it, but I will have my critical eye opened from the get-go.