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The 10 Most Faithful Comic Book Movies of All Time

13 August 2017 | Features, Film Lists | by Tim Buckler

In the last twenty years or so movies based on comic books have increased in popularity to the point that they now dominate the summer the box office. There are many factors to consider for this boom period.

For one, computer generated effects have become more affordable so filmmakers can fully translate the imagery from the printed page to screen without it costing the earth, but another reason may be that the fanboys and fangirls who grew up with these stories are now getting to an age where they are the ones in control of productions. They now have the power to create the extended universes and authentic portrayals they dreamed about in their youth.

Whatever the reasoning comic book movies have become far more profitable in recent times, from tent pole superhero franchises to one-off graphic novel adaptations, and as a result movies studios are tending to treat the original stories with more respect. After all, it is the comics that have kept characters such as Superman and Batman in the public eye for almost eighty years.

Here are ten comic book movies that stuck closely to the source material, be it in terms of visuals, story, or feeling like it could fit as part of a pre-established world.

 

10. Tamara Drewe

Tamara Drewe

Starting life as a newspaper strip by Posy Simonds and later released in its entirety as a graphic novel, Tamara Drewe is a modern day reworking of Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Maddening Crowd.

It tells the story of the once ugly duckling Tamara returning to her quiet home village in the country. Now stunning and single Tamara starts to cause all sorts of chaos and mischief upon her arrival.

In 2010, screenwriter Moira Buffini and director Stephen Friars had great success bringing the tone and feel of the strip to life thanks in no small part to the brilliant casting. What with the choice of actors, such as Gemma Arterton as the title character, Luke Evans as handsome farmer Andy Cobb or young Jessica Barden and Charlotte Christie who play the bored teenage schoolgirls who like to stir the pot, they all nail their designated roles both terms of performance and look. One could be forgiven for thinking the comic is, in fact, an adaptation of the movie itself.

 

9. Batman Begins

Chronicling Bruce Wayne’s journey from orphaned millionaire to Dark Knight Detective, Batman Begins was the first Batman movie to give us a full look at the origins of the character despite it being the sixth live-action feature length film in the franchise.

Many Bat-fans still regard this as the truest motion picture telling of the cape crusader’s adventures. Directly lifting scenes and dialogue from beloved Batman stories such as Frank Millar’s Year One and Jeph Loeb’s The Long Halloween all aided director Christopher Nolan in creating a Gotham City that felt new to the cinema yet familiar to long time readers who had been aching to see their favourite superhero be represented correctly for years.

Batman Begins was the starting point for one of the biggest movie trilogies of all time, not only in terms of box office but also critical acclaim. A lot of that success can be put down to the cast and crew treating every aspect of the creative process with the reverence it deserves and not as another silly superhero movie.

 

8. V for Vendetta

Set in a dystopian world where nuclear war has plagued the Earth, Britain is now controlled as a police state. It’s up to Guy Fawkes masked protagonist and anarchist V, alongside his young protégé Evey Hammond, to try and take back the power.

Original writer Alan Moore once criticised the movie on being too faithful to his work, his reasoning being that the comic was created as a response to post-Thatcher Britain. His belief is that if the film was intended as a commentary on the George W Bush administration (which was in power at the time of the cinematic release) then perhaps the setting should have changed over to America and have been a more direct voice against the controversial President.

Either way, the movie resonated with audience and V’s smiling plastic face has since gone on to be a symbol for activists trying to make changes to situations they find unjust and corrupt. To quote V himself “Behind this mask is an idea, Mr Creedy, and ideas are bullet proof.”

 

7. Superman The Movie

superman-the-movie-christopher-reeve-flying

Many consider the Richard Donner directed Superman The Movie to be the first true blockbuster Superhero film. The special effects, although slightly ropey by today’s standards, were ground breaking for the time and Christopher Reeves portrayal as The Man Of Steel is still seen by many as the definitive big screen interpretation of the character.

A lot of the comic book mythos stays intact for the film. Concepts like Kryptonite and The Phantom Zone, settings such as The Fortress of Solitude and The Daily Planet, and characters including Lex Luthor, Perry White, Jimmy Olson and Lois Lane are all represented.

The epic three act structure, which follows baby Kal-El from the doomed planet Krypton, to his upbringing on the Kent farm all the way to Metropolis and beyond not only gave a faithful nod to his comic book history, but also remains the go to blue print for most DC origin films including Batman Begins and Wonder Woman.

 

6. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

Scott Pilgrim Vs the World

Director Edger Wright did his utmost to bring all six of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim graphic novels to life in the runtime of a feature length film.

It follows the story of Scott (played by Michael Cera) trying to win the heart of his crush Romana Flowers, but in order to do so, he needs to battle her seven evil exes.

Despite the ending varying slightly (the sixth book wasn’t released at the time of the movie’s production, although O’Mally did give his production notes and suggest endings), Wright made sure to stay true to the series cartoony, bombastic style.

Computer enhanced visuals and over the top battle scenes felt like they were ripped straight from the pages of the books and a bright, hilarious and well-directed cast (including super hero alumni Chris Evans and Brandon Routh) enhance the comic-come-to-life feel.

O’Malley was involved in the script writing process, and due to the long production time of the film (Edger Wright and Michael Bacall started work the screenplay in 2005) lines from original draft were even recycled and used by O’Mally in later entries to the books series.

 

 

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  • bd

    Where on earth are you getting the bit about Moore calling the Vendetta film “too faithful” to his work? I implore you to re-read whatever source you took that from because there’s clearly a mistake here — Moore has routinely denounced Vendetta more than all other adaptations of his work because of how incredibly unfaithful the film is… The film has a handful of scenes that are spot-on visual recreations from the novel, and that’s it. The most superficial form of “faithfulness” does not a film to being anywhere near a “most faithful adaptations” list. You don’t even say anything about why it’s so faithful in the film’s entry at all, which just makes its inclusion that much more idiotic.

    Moore had his name removed from the production and rejected all royalties because he so strongly believed that the film represented a completely different idea and character motivations than his original work. There are entire major subplots missing ffs. How in the world is the Vendetta adaptation on this list? Ridiculous.

    • I second that motion. Couldn’t say it better myself.

    • Matches Malone

      Hello BD. I actually attended a panel a couple of years ago in with Alan Moore where someone asked about his distain for V for Vendetta and that was his response. I should have quoted my sources and for that I apologise.

  • Stelios Ioannou

    Batman begins?V for Vendetta?Batman from the 60’s??? What are you some kind of a retarded? That’s the dumbest article I’ve ever read…

  • Stephus

    Watchmen was one of the best adaptations I’ve seen cus even tho many things were taken away the movie is wonderful and respected the comic very much

  • Bullet-Tooth Tony

    Batman from the 60’s you fuckin kidding me? And not even mentioning Watchmen..blasphemy

    • Matches Malone

      I came close to putting Watchmen in there but the change of ending is such a debated subject among us fanboys I think it’s one of those damned of you do damned if you don’t situaions. Not condemning the ending, I think it works better for the film.

    • Matches Malone

      Awesome disqus name btw

      • Bullet-Tooth Tony

        Bullet Tooth Tony is my favourite character from Snatch.Cheers.

        • Matches Malone

          “You can call me Susan if it makes you happy.” Bloody love that film 🙂

          • Bullet-Tooth Tony

            So, you are obviously the big dick. The men on the side of ya are your balls. Now there are two types of balls. There are big brave balls, and there are little mincey faggot balls.

  • bd

    Please don’t comment and give this despicable writer anymore attention. Instead, read this and contact ToC and Medium to let them know why contributors with no respect for their audience or platform shouldn’t be welcomed, much less paid, for their self-serving, manipulative bullshit.

  • Zwei

    Both the comic and the movie of 300 are mediocre

  • DonkeYes

    Watchmen is the best comic book adaptation. It’s a shot for shot, line for line remake of the book, except they added a better ending.

  • Lena Cobangbang

    also, where’s From Hell ? maybe also include Persepolis if your qualifier is a movie adaptation that really looked like its source material.

  • Love it or hate it, Watchmen was extremely faithful to the original material

  • Kosta Jovanovic

    V is such a toned and dumbed down version of the graphic novel that it is sad…

  • Otto T. Goat

    Garfield: The Movie (2004).

  • Jules F. Melo Borges

    V for Vendetta is a political call, unlike the comic.
    Dredd doesn’t have a sense of humor.
    And 300 is an example of how sometimes is better Not to be faithful.