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Comic book movies have taken over the film industry over the past decade. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is now the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time. Early successes in the medium were Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man,’ Bryan Singer’s ‘X-Men,’ and Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher’s ‘Batman’ films. And Classics like the 60s ‘Batman’ television series with Adam West and the original ‘Superman’ movies with Christopher Reeve are the roots of the genre in television and film. The latter showed the potential of comic book adaptations critically and commercially. It was DC’s ‘The Dark Knight’ that revolutionized the genre, though. This Christopher Nolan film paved the way for studios making comic book movies their tent poles going forward.
Related article: Was The Blockbuster Movie ‘300’ Political Satire in Disguise?
Marvel and DC are the movies that usually get highlighted when looking back at the history and success of the genre, however, there are other realms of comic strips that are iconic in their own rights. They deserve to be highlighted for what they’ve brought to the table. These other comic strips come in the forms of graphic novels, manga, and comics (outside of Marvel and DC) that were adapted to film and television with enormous success.
Below We Highlight Some of the Best Movies and Television Series Adapted from Manga, Graphic Novels and Comics
Dark Horse Comics and Frank Miller are up for the first few entries on this list. If you don’t recognize the name, you’ll get an idea of what the company has provided after reading these listings. ‘Sin City’ tells the story of three different people, all caught up in violent corruption, in the dark and gritty Basin City. In a Tim Ferriss Show interview with Robert Rodriguez, the film’s co-director describes the process of adapting the film and getting it made. Rodriguez said that at first, the writer/penciler and inker Frank Miller wasn’t enthusiastic about ‘Sin City’ as a film. He didn’t think it could be done. Rodriguez played around with visual effects (VFX) and showed how he could keep the gritty comic strip style for the movie. Miller ultimately had faith in Rodriguez, and the two made the commercially and critically successful film adaptation.
Dark Horse Comics and Frank Miller are again highlighted for their being behind the story of the film ‘300.’ A New York Times article recounts how Frank Miller, at 6-years-old, was influenced by the film ‘The 300 Spartans’ for his work on the subject. He described how it was unlike the things he was used to seeing where the heroes won in the end. His story told the tale of the Spartan king, Leonidas, and a force of 300 men fighting against one million Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Warner Bros was the production company behind the film ‘300,’ and Zack Snyder directed and co-wrote the screenplay. Snyder has much influence in the DC Cinematic Universe, but he got his start in the comic strip genre with ‘300.’
The critically and commercially successful 2003 film ‘Oldboy’ is based on a Japanese manga series illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi and written by Garon Tsuchiya. The manga, ‘Old Boy,’ was initially serialized in Futabasha magazine in 1996 and later released in North America in 2006 by Dark Horse Comics. The story follows a man who was kidnapped and imprisoned for over a decade. He is released and finds out he must find his captor and the reason for his imprisonment. The manga was adapted in the 2003 Park Chan-wook film and later remade by Spike Lee in 2013 with Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, and Samuel L. Jackson in the leads. The original adaptation is high up on IMDb’s Top Rated Movies list and is renowned for one of the best single shot fight sequences in Cinema history.
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‘Dragon Ball’, ‘Dragon Ball Z’ and ‘Dragon Ball Super’
There are many anime series that deserve recognition for their quality, but ‘Dragon Ball’ is arguably the best and most influential of them all. Akira Toriyama is the brilliant mind behind the beloved series. He achieved mainstream recognition first for his manga series ‘Dr. Slump,’ but his creation of ‘Dragon Ball’ launched mangas and anime to an international level. His series following the adventures of Son Goku has roots in the 16th-century Chinese classic novel Journey to the West and is the second best-selling manga of all time. The television series and subsequent films based on Toriyama’s work have been adapted for multiple languages. Toriyama’s work is a huge influence in the world of anime.
Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Snowpiercer’ was adapted from the French graphic novel created by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette. The original work was published by Casterman and was later translated into English by the British publisher Titan Comics. Bong Joon-ho co-wrote the screenplay with Kelly Masterson and brought the story to screen in 2013. The setting is a future where the remaining survivors of an uninhabitable frozen Earth live on a train divided by class that continually travels the globe. The cast included acting heavyweights Chris Evans, Song Kang-Ho, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, John Hurt, and Octavia Spencer. Recently, a television series was released, rebooting the concept with Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly starring.
Marvel and DC are arguably the biggest prizefighters in the comic strip world. Many graphic novels and comics are their property through their parent company or subsidiaries. But, many comic strips not under either umbrella are out there to explore.
Mangas are hugely influential in the comic world and have a history and legacy of their own. And there are many graphic novels and comics books that don’t belong to Marvel and DC that are well worth checking out.
Hopefully, this article gives readers a look into a whole world of comic strips not wrapped up in Marvel or DC. This list above is the tip of the iceberg, but it represents the other opportunities out there to find more comics strips and their adaptations worth exploring.
What are some of your favorite movies or shows based on comics strips?
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Drew Alexander Ross writes for Hollywood Insider with the aim of bringing the reader an uplifting and insightful experience. He combines his degree in film and business to show a unique point of view on cinema and his beliefs coincide with Hollywood Insider‘s values of promoting positive and meaningful content. Drew enjoys reading at the pace of one to two books a week and loves movies of all genres. He has placed in several screenwriting competitions and has short stories featured in several different publications.