Comic book adaptations are fast becoming the most popular genre in cinema with a plethora of blockbuster releases as well as franchise reboots being developed, such as Daredevil, Fantastic Four and Batman. While the studios are correcting previous mistakes there are a multitude of other fantastic comic book series that have been overlooked and deserve a similar big screen treatment. Here are five recommendations.
Last of the Independents
Created by Matt Fraction and Kieron Dwyer, as part of San Francisco based publishing company AiT/Planet Lar, Last of the Independents follows a down-on-their-luck trio who decide to rob a bank expecting a modest amount of loot to share. However, upon completing the job they discover they’ve actually stolen a large amount of illegal money, whose owners will go to any lengths to get back.
The brilliantly simple narrative is brimming with memorable one-liners and action sequences, giving it all the look and feel of an action classic. Think, The Wild Bunch meets Heat and though this western-themed, sepia-toned, heist tale wouldn’t bring anything original to the big screen, it would certainly be entertaining.
The Umbrella Academy – The Apocalypse Suite
My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way wrote the premise for his debut comic book series The Umbrella Academy – The Apocalypse Suite while on tour in 2007. The unique story begins with a remarkable global event where forty-seven children are simultaneously born by women who had shown no signs of pregnancy. Under the supervision of their new carer, millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves, seven of these extraordinary children create The Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers.
From Spaceboy, a superhuman whose head has been transplanted onto a Martian gorilla, to The Rumor, who has the ability to alter reality by lying, Way’s universe is centred on uniquely complex characters. He introduces stereotypes before turning them on their head within his sharp-witted narrative, resulting in a fantastically outrageous and surreal world where you’re never quite sure what will happen next.
5 Days to Die
5 Days to Die is a dark story of vengeance that focuses on Detective Ray Crisara as he tracks down the people who are responsible for a planned car crash which killed his wife and left his daughter on life support.
While on the surface Ray seems like just another stereotypical middle-aged, gravel-eating, metaphor-muttering, fight-seeking, tough guy, it’s his personal character arc that remains particularly interesting throughout this five-issue miniseries. Ray was affected emotionally by the traumatic events of the car crash, but also physically as he is left with several skull fragments slowly making their way into his brain, giving him the time limit of five days to enact his vengeance.
Unfortunately the water-loving superhero has always been plagued by ridicule and regarded as a weak, unremarkable hero with useless powers. However, since DC’s New 52 re-launch in late 2011 Aquaman, with a well written, self referential narrative, which is grittier than expected, now stands a revitalised hero on par with the other DC legends.
With plans for a Justice League movie, including a reboot of Batman, it can be assumed that it will be treated in the same way as The Avengers, with each member of the illustrious league getting their own feature length genesis film. Hit television series Entourage predicted its fate as a box-office behemoth directed by James Cameron, and if this is the way Hollywood will treat this hero let’s hope they use the New 52 as source, where he will be dishing out all kinds of aquatic ass-kickings.
This critically acclaimed graphic novel series created by British author Neil Gaiman and published by DC follows the central character The Lord of Dreams, the physical embodiment of the concept of dreams, who must rebuild his kingdom after his seventy year absence where he was imprisoned and held captive by an occult ritual. The series was originally a dark horror, but over the years more surreal aspects have been introduced and it has evolved into fantasy. Gaiman’s narrative really puts the graphic into graphic novel, as he frequently presents grotesque images and nudity. While the latter is rather subdued the gore isn’t meaning a film adaptation would be aimed at an adult audience.
Plans for a Sandman adaptation have been floating around since the nineties, where Warner Bros. were originally developing, but unfortunately it has remained in development hell. The Sandman would have to be a huge franchise piece, due to the size of its fan base, but also due to the amount of novels created. As shown previously it is a tough ask to translate Gaiman’s work from the page to screen, and only someone who is passionate about the source material will find results to Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Watchmen.