Strip Talk #06: A few things I need from comic book flicks

Lyn­d­sey Mosley, editor-in-chief

There are a few things I need from my comic book and cartoon-adapted movies. With­out them, the movie’s not going to work and it won’t be worth the film it’s recorded on. These are my pet peeves when it comes to retelling the story of an estab­lished prop­erty. Pro­duc­ers, please take heed. If I can’t watch it, chances are the other aver­age Jane Blows of the world can’t, either.

An under­cooked plot: I’d love it if my char­ac­ters have a pur­pose for what they’re doing. Give me a rea­son why the hero is doing what he’s doing and the villain’s main point early in the movie, hit plot points with decent pac­ing and wrap it up. Throw in spe­cial effects if you have to but make it sec­ondary to the cen­tral plot.

Changed plot points: Writ­ers need to read this bul­let point, espe­cially. The prop­er­ties that were entrusted to you have been so for a rea­son. They were made famous enough to make a movie based on them for a rea­son. Let it be and work with what you’ve got. Do not change the rea­son for a villain’s estab­lished motive for revenge. It will not work. Very few comics have been able to do this and get away with it. If you can’t come up with a good rea­son to change the character’s pur­pose, don’t make the change.

Char­ac­ter appro­pri­ate actors: Cast­ing is an impor­tant part of mak­ing a movie work. Do not choose an actor who has no resem­blance to the estab­lished char­ac­ter. For instance, Thomas Jane was a poor choice for the Pun­isher but Ray Steven­son was excel­lent. Why? Because Steven­son looked like some­one who would do the things Frank Cas­tle was pushed to do. Tobey Maguire worked as Peter Parker/Spider-Man because he had the earnest­ness of Parker and the quick wit of Spider-Man down to a sci­ence. The actor or actress need to be believ­able in a movie that works on a prop­erty that requires you to sus­pend dis­be­lief the entire time.

Tell the tale with enough vil­lains: I can’t stress enough that vil­lains need to be kept at a min­i­mum to pre­serve story integrity. If they aren’t, you start run­ning into the prob­lem of too many vil­lains, or what I like to refer to as “‘Bat­man Returns syn­drome.” Too many vil­lains screw up the pac­ing of the film. Inevitably, there will be too many big names scratch­ing for screen time and some­one, prob­a­bly the hero, will get the short end of the stick.

Spider-Man 3” had this prob­lem, and it’s one of the few times that I can’t say I enjoyed a film fea­tur­ing my favorite vil­lain: Venom. A flick that stands as a shin­ing exam­ple of how to do mul­ti­ple vil­lains cor­rectly is “Dark Knight.” The Joker and Har­vey Dent/Two Face work well, and I loved how the pac­ing was han­dled. That’s how you intro­duce vil­lains effec­tively and tell their stories.

If you’re going to make a suc­cess­ful film based off of estab­lished prop­er­ties, at least take the time to care about the pro­duced final prod­uct. It means the dif­fer­ence between a poor adap­ta­tion — “Elek­tra,” “Dare­devil,” “Pun­isher” we’re look­ing at you — and some­thing spec­tac­u­lar that stays at the fore­front of the genre. “Dark Knight,” we salute you.

Lyn­d­sey Mosley is edi­tor of Gam­ing Insur­rec­tion. She can be reached at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

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