As a 70's baby, cartoon, comic book and film enthusiast as well as a writer let me just say that I am completely fed up with Hollywood studios buying up properties to shows and comic books I loved as a kid just to make horrible popcorn movies out of them. Don't think that I'm just talking about this recent rash of comic book/cartoon films, either. My issues with Hollywood and their shitty adaptations goes way back to the 80's.
The first two well written and well executed Superman films made the studio greedy which led to two horrible sequels as well as a crappy spinoff film (1984's Supergirl).
1982's Conan The Barbarian was an epic success both in quality and at the box office. It was also faithfully adapted from the novels and comic book but the producers decided to take a more campy and less realistic approach with it's sequels to gain a wider fanbase. This ultimately resulted in the craptacular films Conan The Destroyer (1984) and the Brigette Nielsen vehicle Red Sonja (1985).
It was a down time for cartoon and comic book properties because they were an unknown quantity and few studios believed that a film that uses a comic book as source material would do well at the box office. That didn't stop horrible film adaptations of Howard The Duck (1986), Masters Of The Universe (1987), The Punisher (1989) and Captain America (1990) from being made. Although the tide was stemmed for a while by a hugely successful Batman movie (1989).
The blockbuster Batman film lead to several comic book properties being greenlit by studios and in 1990 studios unleashed Dick Tracy, Darkman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the blockbuster hungry audience.
Although Dick Tracy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were huge hits for their studios and raked in huge amounts of dough at the box office (TMNT brought in 10x it's original budget at the box office alone), Darkman was a major disappointment both in film quality and financial performance.
The subsequent Batman , TMNT and Darkman sequels became increasingly worse with each film as studios tried to make films that would make the most money as opposed to focusing on the overall quality of the movie itself. Sylvester Stallone, hella special effects and a bunch of explosions couldn't even save the shit sandwich known as Judge Dredd in 1995.
It wasn't until Wesley Snipes burst on the scene with his version of Marvel's Blade in 1998 that studios once again warmed to the idea of movies that used comic books as their source material after it made almost three times it's $45 million dollar budget before it was even made available for sale or rental.
This led to the creation and release of the crappy X Men trilogy which surprisingly enough got exponentially worse with each film and the main characters seemed less and less like the X Men that comic book fans grew up reading.
Ang Lee's long and tediously boring take on The Hulk was a warm mug of cat piss. Was I glad that he decided to humanize Banner and make it a real film? Yes. The whole convoluted storyline with his absentee father and the mutant dogs and no Abomination, Modok or Leader was manure.
Daredevil and it's subsequent spinoff Elektra were both piles of flaming horseshit. Having a fight in a playground? Bullseye has a fuckin' bullseye carved into his forehead? Seriously? Fuck outta here. I'm not even gonna write anything about the Elektra flick (You know why, Dallas!).
The Punisher did nothing more than punish the audience by having them sit through watching the character of Frank Castle get butchered yet again just like his ENTIRE FAMILY did in the film instead of just his wife and son (damn you Dolph Lundgren!).
The Halle Berry vehicle Catwoman sucked cock, balls and licked taint.
The Fantastic Four films set the bar for standards so low you could limbo under it (was that really supposed to be Galactus?). I guess Stan Lee doesn't care about the quality of these films anymore as long as he gets to do a cameo in 'em.
Next came even more terrible Hollywood adaptations of beloved properties like Transformers and Ghost Rider (I really did feel like I was in Hell while watching it!).
Sure, the studios managed to get it right with the Spider Man trilogy (although the last one was definitely pushing it), Ghost World, Hellboy, Constantine (Hellblazer), Sin City, 300, Road To Perdition, A History Of Violence, V Is For Vendetta, 30 Days Of Night, Persepolis and Iron Man but those kind of well executed adaptations are too far and few between (although Hellblazer die hards would disagree with me).
Is it really that hard of a job to find someone who can make an adaptation of a cartoon, comic book or graphic novel and actually make it marketable while keeping the initial spirit and integrity of the source material alive? After seeing the latest Cinemascope-on-crack seizure inducing suckfest that is Speed Racer I'm guessing the answer is a resounding "yes".
Sure, Watchmen is in good hands but we'll still waiting to see exactly how much they ended up watering down the brilliant graphic novel Wanted (not a childhood memory but a damn good graphic novel, read it if you haven't already). It's safe to say that a good 50-60% of the elements from that graphic novel would NEVER make it onto the silver screen so I'm curious to see if they fucked it up or not.
I have high hopes for the upcoming film The Dark Knight based on the quality of the previous film but I'll wait and see with the new Hulk picture since my inner fanboy has been burned so many times over the past 25 years.
After seeing the new publicity stills from the upcoming G.I. Joe (the Heavy Duty one is missing) flick I fear for the future when I'm sitting in a theater with my niece and nephew watching Voltron and hating it while they love it. I can't wait!*
Properties That Soulless Hollywood Studios Are Going To Butcher In The Near Future:
Masters Of The Universe
Dragon Ball Z
Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li
* denotes implied sarcasm