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What Are the 10 Most Disastrous Comic Book Adaptations?

Do some characters and concepts just work better on the printed page? Are some characters more difficult to adapt then others? Are some characters just too weak to make it on screen?

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PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!

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May 28, 2014 - 4:00 pm

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, cross-posted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. 

Also check out Monday’s question: “Which Science Fiction Novels Should Be Made into Films and TV Miniseries?,” Tuesday’s question:Lord of the Rings Vs. Harry Potter: Which Film Series Better Captured their Books’ Spirit? the previous weeks’ writing prompts and email in your thoughts on any questions that strike your fancy: 5 Questions So We Can Figure Out the Cream of the Crop In Popular Music Genres5 Geek Questions To Provoke Debates About the Future of Sci-Fi and Fantasy5 Controversial Questions To Inspire Spirited Debates About Music.

This week we’ll begin a discussion about the best — and worst — ways to adapt stories from one medium to another. Your ideas and suggestions are always appreciated.

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This week we’ll  begin a discussion about the best — and worst — ways to adapt stories from one medium to another. Your ideas and suggestions are always appreciated.

PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates Features a new prompt each weekday to weigh the good, the bad, the overrated, the unbelievable, and the amazing throughout the worlds of books, film, and TV. We can't figure out how to build a greater pop culture until we dissect the mess we already have. Want to contribute your perspective to the debate? Email PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle with your take: DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail.com Image via shutterstock/ DarkGeometryStudios
All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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The original Batman series from the Sixties. I can't tell you how disappointed I was with that at the time of its first run. Worst TV show of all time. It makes watching a Richard Simmons exercise video seem like "Marvel's The Avengers".
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
For one that shouldn't make the lists, but deserves an "honorable" mention, how about the unreleased 1992 movie The Fantastic Four? The bootlegs you can get of it exist mainly to remind you that for all the garbage Hollywood has released, you should see some of the stuff that got weeded out! At least this one was rather fun to watch in an unintentionally hilarious way:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheFantasticFour
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Look, it's impossible to get much pleasure out of the comic without a pretty good background in pop culture - 19th century pop culture! Dark, complex, very long stories in which several major characters are killed off less than halfway through, and familiar tropes are used to undermine themselves, could work on television if approached seriously. But one thing that story is NOT is a fun superhero romp!
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
Catwoman definitely has to rank either at the very rock bottom, or very close. Cheesy old no-budget Marvel flicks at least have the excuse that they were cheaply made, that they were for a something-less-than-cerebral audience, and that they couldn't afford very good writers or special effects.

With Catwoman, though? Come on, DC had the big budget, the cleverly-written source material, and even a good launching point for a Catwoman movie from the end of Tim Burton's Batman Returns movie. Instead, we got a Catwoman who wasn't our tried-and-true beloved-of-the-fans Selina Kyle, had absolutely nothing to do with Batman Returns, and was basically completely unrelated to any Catwoman we'd ever seen in the comic books or movies or anywhere else.

Once they went ripping out every character who mattered and made Catwoman an adaptation-in-name-only, it didn't matter what actors they got or how well they performed; it was a guaranteed flop. It was as if Mel Gibson had decided to make his movie The Passion without Jesus or any of the twelve disciples, and to cut out that whole depressing crucifixion "subplot" as well in favor of a cheery musical about a bunch of Hebrew gladiators. As it is, everyone responsible for making Catwoman should have known from the get-go it was never going to work, and cancelled the whole project on day one.

Sure, I've seen misfires and failures from comic book adaptations, but it would be difficult to find one that fairly screams "They weren't even trying!" so aggressively and relentlessly as Catwoman does.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think the 1980 movie, Flash Gordon came very close to that. The comic was always a bit campy, but the movie was downright goofball.

Another, IMHO, was "Annie," based, of course, on Little Orphan Annie. In the comics, especially the late 30s through the 50s, that young lady got into a great deal of dangerous stuff, and even had a pair of assassins as her bodyguards.

The movie portrayed her as Pollyanna.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I never plug my blogs in the comments section of PJ Meida, but I wrote a piece that covers this subject last year. Here are my picks for worst comic book adaptations:
http://dvdcriticscorner.com/2013/04/29/movies-based-on-comic-books-i-want-to-punch-in-the-face/
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I guess you mean movies but that Hulk TV show with Ferrigno seemed as if it was made by Li'l Abner, or a TV producer who wanted to lose money on purpose like Springtime for Hitler in The Producers.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, from what I've seen (the pilot episode, and "Married" which is also known as "Bride of the Hulk") the Hulk TV show was actually pretty good; not exactly fare for the big screen, but a pretty decent TV adaptation.

You want something that was bad even for TV, try the live-action Spider-Man show, which will have you asking "Why doesn't Peter Parker just take a cab? It'd sure be faster than crawling up one side of a building and down the other."
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
It was filmed in California, and without NYC's closely packed skyscrapers, the whole idea of Spiderman just died.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't know. Some of the ones you list above might have been good fodder for movies if they had been given the right treatment - good script, right actors, right director, etc.

I mean, if they could pull off Hellboy and make it successful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob9J3kCELXE

Then what on earth made Ghostrider so difficult? Or Spawn? or Daredevil? Of those three, Daredevil is downright mundane and really only needs the right actor and someone with an appreciation for the source material writing the script and directing. Heck, I'm not even going to say that Affleck was necessarily the wrong choice for Daredevil - Michael Keaton anyone? And of the three I mentioned, Spawn is maybe the one that approaches being as off the wall as Hellboy.

I can't even say that the three I pointed out are too obscure. I didn't even know that Hellboy existed or was a comic book character until I saw the movie and my husband mentioned it. So what is Jonah Hex's problem? Clearly, we can see from the Hellboy example that obscurity is no bar to success.

Now, I'm not going to claim that Hellboy was a raging box office success, but for a character that was pretty obscure and subject matter that was pretty off the wall, it did a good enough job at hitting all the right notes to be enough of a success to earn itself a sequal.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree: that second Hellboy movie was masterful, and it wasn't anything intrinsic to the character; it was just a damn fine flight of imagination. The first Hellboy wasn't nearly as fine. So it's all about the filmmaking - if you can make Hellboy work you can make anything work.
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
It took DelToro to make Hellboy work. With any luck at all, he will also get to make Lovecraft work (the fabled / rumored At the Mountains of Madness). Cheers -
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
The 1979 Captain America television movies that aired on CBS. Captain America and Captain America II - Death Too Soon.

The suckage is so awesome they deserve to have their own category of awfulness.

8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Agony Booth does a hilarious review ala MST3K. Much more enjoyable than the movie.

http://www.agonybooth.com/video287_Captain_America_1979_TV_Movie.aspx
8 weeks ago
8 weeks ago Link To Comment
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