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. Sure, I believe that this is Storm and Cyclops! Better yet, Wolverine actually did have a shot with Jean Grey? Anyone got any Obama commemorative coins they wanna sell me?
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. Did y'all see the two of them having a fight in a goddamn playground out in public? Bullseye has a fuckin' bullseye carved into his forehead? Seriously? Fuck outta here. I'm not even gonna attempt to write anything about that so-called Elektra flick (You know why, Dallas!).
The Punisher did nothing more than punish the audience by having them all 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!).
When I heard that Marvel was giving it another go 'round and this time they decided to focus on action/gunplay with a high body count in order to capture the actual essence of the Punisher I was relieved...until I saw "Punisher: War Zone" that is. How the fuck did they manage to make it even worse? This film was as bad if not worse than "Max Payne" ("Max Payne" made baby Jesus cry)!
The Halle Berry DC Comics vehicle Catwoman sucked cock, balls and licked taint....thoroughly and completely. 'Nuff said.
The Fantastic Four films set the bar for standards so low you could limbo under it (was that really supposed to be Galactus? C'mon fellas! Really?). 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. Julian McMahon as Doctor Doom? Do I look like a damn 6 year old to you? Do you think I believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus? So why would I think that THIS is the Fantastic Four?
Next came even more terrible Hollywood adaptations of beloved properties like Transformers and Ghost Rider (as an aside, I really did feel like I was in Hell while watching it! I guess that's a step in the right direction).
As horrible and devoid of any soul or substance as these two films were, they've both been tapped for upcoming sequels. We saw a teaser trailer for "Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen' last night during the Super Bowl and "Ghost Rider 2" has gotten the greenlight as well. Here's to yet another Bad Idea Jeans ad!
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 godawful 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 (even though several aspects of the storyline won't make the film and the end will definitely change) but a fair amount of this dense and highly detailed graphic novel will be dicarded. Very little of the original storyline of the modern classic graphic novel "Wanted" (read it if you haven't already) made it to the big screen.
The screenwriter and director tried to keep the "essence" and "feel" of the original Mark Millar penned source material alive but they fell WAY short in my biased opinion. Read "Wanted" for yourself and then be pissed off that you were denied a Mister Rictus, Professor Solomon Seltzer, or a Council Of Five (forget about "The Fox", Doll-master, Shithead and Fuckwit!). Never would've even been made I know but a man can dream, can't he? (Loom Of Fate? Fuck outta here!)
"The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man" were both far beyond my wildest expectations filmwise as far as content, depth and quality is concerned. That's a great thing because I had become rather jaded and cynical since my inner fanboy has been burned so many times over the past 25 years. The recent "Incredible Hulk" film was also a tremendous improvement over the previous Ang Lee cinematic shitstorm. He actually had an enemy and the film didn't just drag on for no reason.
After seeing the new trailer and film posters for the upcoming "G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra"(sans Stalker, Roadblock or several other Joes that should ACTUALLY be in it) flick I fear for the future when I'm sitting in a theater (or my room...who am I kidding here?) with my niece and nephew watching Voltron while clenching my teeth and hating it while they love it. I can't wait!*
Properties That Soulless Hollywood Studios Are Going To Butcher In The Near Future:
G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra
Masters Of The Universe
Dragon Ball: Evolution
Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun Li
* denotes implied sarcasm