30th Sep2013

15 film adaptations of Comic Books & Graphic Novels

by Phil Wheat

As if you hadn’t already noticed, we are going through a boom of films made from comic books or graphic novels. On the whole, they’re quite a popular choice for cinema goers and to that we say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Next up is Rurouni Kenshin, which is based on the popular manga of the same name by Nobuhiro Watsuki; and tells the story of ex-assassin Kenshin Himura (Takeru Satô) who has made a vow never to kill again. Now a wandering samurai, Kenshin protects those in need in hope of reparation. Finding a home at a failing dojo, he becomes entangled in a string of murders related to a drug ring. His vow is put to the test when those he’s come to care about are threatened by his troubled and violent past…


With Rurouni Kenshin hitting the big screen on October 4th, we decided it was about time to take a look at film adaptations of comic books and graphic novels. Let’s begin.


Thor is based on the Marvel comic created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber. Thor was released in 2011 and starred Chris Hemsworth as our main man along with Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston. It was well received, and a sequel is due for release later this year.


Originating from the Dark Horse comics by Mike Mignola, Hellboy has two films in its franchise so far, both of which starring Ron Perlman as Hellboy. The first film released in 2004, and the second titled Hellboy II: The Golden Army released four years later in 2008. It is rumoured there is a third instalment on the cards with Guillermo del Torro returning as director.


Based on the DC Comics created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman has had a massive seven films in its franchise. Christopher Nolan took on the latest trilogy of Batman films which are the most popular of the franchise. With a staple cast of Christian Bale as Batman, starring alongside Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, and Gary Oldman. Batman Begins (2005) also starred Katie Holmes as Bruce Wayne’s love interest Rachel, and Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow. The Dark Knight (2005) continues with our staple actors and also includes Heath Ledger as The Joker, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent and Maggie Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmes. The final of the three films titled The Dark Knight Rises (2012) also starred Tom Hardy as Bane, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake.


Spider-Man is based on the Marvel comic series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko which has four films under his belt so far. The most recent reboot of the franchise titled The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) stars Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man and Emma Stone as Gwen. In this feature Rhys Ifans was our villain, The Lizard. The sequel will continue to be directed by the conveniently named Marc Webb, and will be hitting cinemas next year also starring Jamie Foxx and Paul Giamatti.


X-Men has six films with another one on the way. Based on the Marvel comics; X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), X-Men: First Class (2011) and most recently The Wolverine (2013) starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn and Shawn Ashmore. First Class saw a change in line up introducing James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult – a lot of name dropping there.


Ghost World stands alone and is based on the comic of the same name by Daniel Clowes, starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson with a side of Steve Buscemi. With many hidden links and references this 2001 film adaptation makes for an interesting watch.


Iron Man, another Marvel creation of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Larry Lieber and Don Heck has three films in the franchise; Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010) and Iron Man 3 exploded onto our screens earlier this year, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the lovable Tony Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is based on the comic created by Brian Lee O’Malley. The film came out in 2009 by director Edgar Wright and starred Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Scott’s love interest, Ramona Flowers. Scott Pilgrim also stars the lovable Anna Kendrick as Scott’s sister, Stacey. Not to mention Kieran Culkin as Scott’s gay flat mate, Wallace.


Watchmen is a standalone film which was released in 2009 and is based on the DC Comics graphic novel by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins. The Watchmen graphic novels ran for just over a year in 1986. The film seemed to have pleased a lot of its fans.


300 is based on a comic by Frank Miller and starred Gerard Butler as its lead role. Being the hot topic of conversation around its release back in 2006, the sequel is scheduled for later this year. However, Zack Snyder won’t be returning as director for the second instalment titled 300: Rise of an Empire.


Based on the comic book by Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr. Kick-Ass stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kick-Ass, Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl, and Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy. Kick-Ass burst onto our screens and left a bazooka sized hole when it left. The much anticipated Kick-Ass sequel was released earlier this year and also stars Jim Carrey and Donald Faison.


Sin City is based on another of Frank Miller’s creations, and stars a huge line up. Including Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, and Josh Hartnett just to name a few. Sin City was released in 2005 and after a long wait, we are expecting a sequel later this year, titled Sin City: A Dame to Kill For which will include Joseph Gordon-Levitt (to continue the name dropping).


The Avengers was released last year and is based on the Marvel comic created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1963. This blockbuster starred another huge line up including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and Tom Hiddleston – without forgetting Samuel L. Jackson. The Avengers is currently number 3 in the highest grossing film ever, so it’s no wonder there’s a sequel already in the works expected in 2015.


V for Vendetta first appeared as a black and white comic in 1982 as part of the Warrior comic series by Quality Comics. When Warrior was cancelled, DC Comics took it on to print it in glorious colour in 1988. The film adaptation stars Hugo Weaving with Natalie Portman was released in 2005.


American Splendor is based on a series of autobiographical comics written by Harvey Pekar from 1976. The film adaptation was released in 2003 and dramatises Pekar’s life and sits quite tightly with the original comics, starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar and Hope Davis as Joyce Brabner.

Rurouni Kenshin hits the big screen on October 4th 2013.


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