Changing A Film (Hopefully) For The Better

Sometimes, when novels and comics are adapted into movies, filmmakers take liberties with one aspect or another of the production, in an effort to create something that doesn’t alienate fans or casual viewers.  Sometimes these changes are necessary for numerous reasons, such as: a particular novel may be too long, and scenes may require cutting if it’s to fit the running time allocated; or characters as written don’t work in the film’s context.

When that happens they may be removed all together, or perhaps re-written as composites of various other characters that didn’t exist in the original source material.

This approach is also used with comic-based films, with varying degrees of success.  For example, anyone that has read the X-Men comics noticed immediately that the costumes vaguely, if at all, resembled those from the comics.  This was probably done because the filmmakers believed that the costumes worked for that particular milieu, but wouldn’t translate outside of it.

Judge for yourself.  Here are some images of the costumes of the X-Men from the comics, and from the films.


Costumes are extremely important because they aid in the suspension of reality.  And unlike what you may read about a film being primarily the work of one individual, generally the director, the reality is that there are often hundreds of people working behind the scenes to bring a film to life.

While other changes are not only unwelcome, but strange.  An example of this can be found in the Transformers films.  If you’ve ever seen the cartoons or toys that the films are based upon, you’ll notice that Optimus Prime doesn’t have a mouth, while in the films he does.

It’s a strange decision because a mouth on him not only looks out of place, but since he’s a robot, does he really need one?  I wonder was it done because the director thought that a robot with a mouth would be easier for people to relate to than one without.  It may sound like a small thing, but such a decision probably took hours, if not days, to work out.

Another tendency is for adaptations of comics not to take advantage of the resource that are the writers of a particular book.  This could arguably be why the adaptation of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” despite being a box-office success, was a very troubled production and a sequel was never created (This is despite Alan Moore, the writer of the comic the film was based upon, having nothing to do with the production).

As of late it appears that Hollywood is not only actively involving the writers/creator of the projects they are undertaking–but are listening to them.  For instance, in the upcoming “The Wolverine,” which is based upon a storyline by Chris Claremont–though the screenplay was written by Christopher McQuarrie (“The Usual Suspects,” “Valkyrie,” “Way of the Gun”)–was actually asked for his opinion on the screenplay (Which he liked).

Or when Steven Lisberger–along with Bonnie MacBird–created “Tron.”  Mr. Lisberger had been trying to get a Tron sequel off the ground for years, and while he didn’t write “Tron: Legacy”, he did produce it, which means that his sensibilities were to some extent represented.

Even if it came almost three decades later.

Though it is a good trend, in that the comic book fan base is remarkably loyal–when a project is done right, because it is not unconditional–though there are times when the writers of a particular comic property are involved with the film project, and it still flops (“Green Lantern” being a prime example).

Still, to ensure the loyalty of the fanbase, often ensures that a film has a good opening weekend, though it still needs to expand beyond its base if it’s to be successful.

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