Now that the origin story phase of comic book movies has run it’s course and two major studios (WB & Marvel Entertainment) are slowly regaining the rights to all the major DC and Marvel characters, it’s natural that we enter the next phase of comic book story-telling in the cinematic form. It’s time to start telling cross-overs (outside of The Avengers), one-offs and What If…? story-lines. Here’s 5 I think would translate great to the big screen.
SIDENOTE: I’m sticking to the big boys here. I may explore indy and smaller name titles in the future so stay tuned. Also, I have to credit wikipedia with the wording for the premises and some of the facts.
5. BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE.
PREMISE: The plot revolves around a largely psychological battle between Batman and his arch-nemesis, the Joker, who has escaped from Arkham Asylum. The Joker intends to drive Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon insane to prove that the most upstanding citizen can go mad after having “one bad day.”
FUN FACTS: The story was monumental leaving ripples in the ongoing Batman continuity as it features the shooting and paralysis of Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl) by the Joker, an event which laid the groundwork for her to develop the identity of Oracle, an expert computer hacker and a vital source of information for Batman and other superheroes. It also reinterpreted the Joker’s origin as the Red Hood.
WHY IT WOULD BE GREAT: The writer of this book, Alan Moore, may be the best in the business and, while he hates Hollywood touching his work, it wouldn’t be the first time his work has been adapted to film (From Hell, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). However, why it would make a great movie is that it is considered the closest thing that exists to an origin story of the Joker, flashing back to his days as a failed stand-up comedian. Now, I’m not sure anyone would want to attempt it after Heath Ledger, even though I said the same thing after Nicholson, but it would be great to see Batman’s greatest foe explored more fully.
PREMISE: Set from 1939 to 1974; the series examines the Marvel Universe, the collective setting of most of Marvel’s superhero series, from the perspective of an Everyman character: news photographer Phil Sheldon. The street-level series portrayed ordinary life in a world full of costumed supermen, with each issue featuring events well known to readers of Marvel comics as well as a variety of minute details and retelling the most infamous events in the Marvel Universe.
FUN FACTS: This book was illustrated by my favorite comic book artist, Alex Ross, who actually paints all of his books.
WHY IT WOULD BE GREAT: From all the origin stories that have been told, we are all now familiar with most of the iconic moments in the rise of our favorite superheroes. Now imagine a movie, shot very much like Unbreakable… only instead of being from the P.O.V. of the hero, we see it through the eyes of the community that surrounds him. Imagine looking up and seeing a human spider slinging webs through the buildings above you or a man engulfed in flames racing through the night sky. The amazing nature of a superhero could truly be exploited with a film like this.
3. PUNISHER KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE.
PREMISE: Officer Frank Castle (The Punisher) is dispatched to Central Park where The Avengers and X-men are fighting members of the Brood. Rather than falling victim to a gangland slaying, Castle’s wife and children are instead killed when caught in the middle of the battle. Incensed, he opens fire and kills Cyclops, Hawkeye and Jubilee. For the crime he is tried and found guilty of triple murder and sent to prison. However, he is freed from jail and brought to the mansion of a disfigured man named Kesselring where he and his wealthy associates (people who have been hurt, maimed or lost love ones to superhero battles…imagine the people who had been hurt by say Hulk throwing a car or Green Goblin pumpkin bombing a building) employ Castle to kill off every superhero in the world… both good and bad.
FUN FACTS: This one is very much in the vane of Marvel’s What If…? story-lines. Those are Marvel stories that were told outside the mainstream continuity of the Marvel Universe and were often single issues or limited runs. In my opinion, it is one of the best comics out there that no one knows about.
WHY IT WOULD BE GREAT: First and foremost, it’s a dark book. Which is just fun. The deaths and fights leading up to them are gritty and violent in the true spirit of the Punisher. Now, imagine a movie featuring the ENTIRE Marvel universe with sequences ending in major showdowns with their biggest characters. Punisher vs. Spiderman, Punisher vs. Wolverine, etc. What’s not to like?
2. KINGDOM COME.
PREMISE: Set some twenty years into the future of the then-current DC Universe, it deals with a growing conflict between “traditional” superheroes, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League, and a growing population of largely amoral and dangerously irresponsible new vigilantes. Between these two groups is Batman and his assembled team, who attempt to contain the escalating disaster, foil the machinations of Lex Luthor, and prevent a world-ending superhuman war.
FUN FACTS: This book was also illustrated by Alex Ross (see Marvels above). An Alex Ross partial sketch can sell for several thousands as can his prints. His lower end, smaller paintings start at around 200 thousand dollars.
WHY IT WOULD BE GREAT: We’ve done the prologue to death so why not do an epilogue. Imagine a world so bad, that even Superman has given up hope and now lives in solitude. Generations of superheroes have spawned further generations and, without Supes to be the balance, the line between “hero” and “villain” has become blurred. Essentially, Superman gets the gang back together and leads an all out superhero attack to clean up a very dirty DC world. It also features complicated and engulfing story-lines for all the former Justice Leaguers.
1. THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.
PREMISE: The story of a middle-aged Batman who comes out of retirement to fight crime, only to face opposition from the Gotham City police force and the United States government… not to mention Superman. I can’t do all the layers of this story justice. You should just go read it or at least check out a detailed breakdown by CLICKING HERE!!!
FUN FACTS: The Dark Knight Returns was written by comic scribe Frank Miller. Forget 300 & Sin City… this is his finest work.
WHY IT WOULD BE GREAT: Did I mention a final showdown with Superman??? What else do you want? In all seriousness, I’m not actually convinced we won’t ever see this movie. I know Christopher Nolan is aware of the book and could see him returning, with Christian Bale, ten years from now and turning his trilogy into a quadrilogy. Let’s just say, I’m pretty sure there’s a reason his next film ends with “Rises” and not “Returns”. While that could be a long shot, I assure you, this is one of the quintessential Batman books out there in publication… if Nolan doesn’t step up, somebody will!
Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.