Limebirds Assemble! – Comic Adaptations

by limebirdlaura

If you haven’t watched The Avengers, I want you to put your mouse down and rectify that. Once you’ve finished watching, you can come back to reading this. It’s no big deal, I’ll wait.



I should have thought this through, it is over 2 hours long after all…


Sigh, are you back yet?

Oh good there you are.

Ahem, now we can get back to business. I’ve touched on the subject of adaptation before. In general I’m OK with the screenwriter changing bits and pieces of the author’s original work, since films and books are two different mediums and it takes different things to convey an idea properly. As long as the movie is good, I’m good.

Woo, my husband, is a bit of a walking comic book encyclopedia. I’m not going to pretend that I know much at all about comics. There are some that I have read through and know a bit about – Sin City and Watchmen come to mind. But when it comes to things like Batman, X-Men, Spider-Man, etc I pretty much only know the basics. So when comic movies come out I can expect him to give me the low down about what’s going on.

Woo and I were talking today (after the 12th time I mentioned I wanted to go back to the movies to watch The Avengers) about all the different plot lines taken from different continuities within the comics. Comics are worse than soap operas with their deaths and re-births and devil possessions. Wait, I’m getting a bit off track here…

It had never occurred to me that the story of The Avengers wasn’t just one story ripped from the pages of one comic book, but really a mish-mash of stuff from here and there with general ideas and plot lines written by Joss Whedon. The Avengers comics came out in 1963, so several different story lines and continuities were written together to make the movie.

So, I admit I don’t know much about The Avengers in comic history, but I loved the movie!  Woo, knowing all there is to know about the comics also loved the movie – even though they might have changed many things around and mixed things up a bit. I think this is a good example of an adaptation changing the original story (or stories in this case) to make a great movie.

All that talk about The Avengers as an adaptation of the comics, got me thinking about 2005’s Sin City movie. It’s an adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name. The movie, which was directed by Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez, is basically word for word, page by page ripped from the graphic novel. This I do have a bit of actual knowledge on as I’ve read the graphic novel.  The movie was beautifully done, I thought at least, and not much deviated from the source material. I found this website that has side-by-side examples of Sin City stills from the movie compared to the graphic novel. They are pretty much identical! That’s a good example of an adaptation that successfuly comes directly from the original work.

Sometimes things have to be mixed up here and there to make a good movie, and sometimes it works well as it always was from the beginning.

What do you think? Would you rather see a comic movie follow one plot line from one story, or does the mish-mash of several continuities work? What are some of your favorite and least favorite comics turned movie or TV show. (My dad used to chase me around the house pretending to be the Hulk when I was 5 years old… scared me to death! He thought it was a hoot of course. No wonder I’m crazy…)

29 Comments to “Limebirds Assemble! – Comic Adaptations”

  1. I find adaptations somewhat fascinating; I love taking a look at something and figuring out the WHYs on something that’s been changed, especially if the changes are done with love and faithfulness to the source material, as I definitely feel is the case in Whedon’s Avengers adaptation. One really good example of this is also HBO’s Game of Thrones series. I didn’t start doing so intentionally, but I’ve been reading the book along with the series, so that, a lot of times, I’ll read a scene and then it’s in that week’s episode, or vice versa…I’ll see the scene, then read it. It’s so fascinating that some things are changed, be it slightly or dramatically, while others are nearly word-for-word from the book. And I love it all. Adaptations on a book you enjoy is like getting a bonus, extra material, or an alternate take. Okay, sometimes, there are adaptations that aren’t so good (I’m thinking of the Japanese series Negima! in particular…incredible manga, but the first anime version was terrible, and the second was so much fun!).

    I’ve even decided to put off reading the next A Song of Ice and Fire books to go along with Season Three, because it’s just been so interesting reading and watching simultaneously. I’m pretty sure this adoration of dissecting adaptations makes me a pretty big nerd, but there’s nothing new there.

    • I haven’t read or watched Game of Thrones (no HBO in my house) but what you said reminded me of the Walking Dead. I did read a good chunk of the graphic novel before the show came out, and there was a character that died early on in the books, that lived through the second season of the show, WAYYYYYYY after they were supposed to be dead and gone. I really enjoyed seeing that character even though historically with the books, they shouldn’t have been there. I agree with you, it’s like getting some bonus material! Good way to put it 🙂

  2. I read comics almost religiously as a child (1960s) but in general, film adaptations don’t interest me. Adaptations run into the problem of original vision vs a second, and adaptation to a different format.

    • Interesting take on adaptation. What if you don’t know anything of the source material? Would you watch the movie then find it interesting to read the book or comic? Thanks for commenting 😀

  3. So long as it tells a good story I’m ok with the artistic license. I haven’t read Sin City, but I have seen the film and thought it was excellent. I might have to watch it again soon now you’ve sown the seed again.

  4. Great post Laura. I was very naughty though, I read the whole post without going off to watch the Avengers in between! I’m not much of one for comic adaptations, or comics at all for that matter, so I don’t really have anything intelligent to add to the discussion. My son would probably be the one to drag me off to watch them, and then I’d end up enjoying them despite myself! (This has happened before, can you tell?).

    • Oh ok, I’ll let you get away with it…. this time! My husband actually pokes fun at me for this… particularly with Harry Potter. He kept saying I’d love it I’d love it and I said no no no noooooo no way am I watching that. Boy did I eat my words, and anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty obsessed with Harry Potter … so I guess I always say you never know!

  5. Laura, I think this post relates pretty well to Cat’s post on fan fiction, as they both deal – sort of – with adaptations. Rodriguez basically filmed a panel-by-panel homage to Miller’s Sin City books; Whedon did something similar with those Kirby/Lee stories.

    Actually, the Big Two comics (Marvel and DCs, that is) these days are really just fan fiction continuations of the original ideas. Whedon has a real love for the source material (despite not including Ant-Man and Wasp, founding members, no less! …but I understand they’re currently tied up in development under Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish), and I’m glad that that shows through.

    One person’s interpretation might be different from mine (Ant-Man! Wasp! Founding members, Joss!), and I’m fine with that (despite my outbursts). It’s often fun to see what gets changed (like in “Game of Thrones” the series), and what possibilities arise because of that. It’s also great to see my favorite scenes translated by a director’s hand (oh, Jaqen…!). Sometimes, I even prefer the adaptations to the original.

    I’ve got a question for the Limebirds, though: As authors, how would you feel about adaptations of your work? Would you want them to stay true to the source material, or would you be okay with changes being made?

    • LOL, depends on what they want to pay me.

    • I’m glad you said that actually! Yesterday when I was talking to Woo he was telling me that a lot of the story from the Avengers movie was made up by Joss Whedon… and so my reply to him was “so it’s kind of like fan-fiction isn’t it?”

      Going back to the Game of Thrones comment I left to L.S. , I haven’t seen it but it reminded me of the Walking Dead, and how a character died early on in the graphic novel that lived through the second season of the show well after their death. It didn’t bug me one bit, I was glad to see more of that character and what they had to offer. I think that’s the big point for me — Yes I love the book or comic or whatever is being adapted, but if the movie or TV show offers it in a different but equally awesome way, I’m OK with the changes.

      I don’t know much about Ant-Man or Wasp admittedly, but I think they had a good ensemble for The Avengers. It might have been too much throw them in the mix too. Hawkeye and Black Widow didn’t get their own movies like Thor, Hulk and Iron Man to sort of establish them as characters, but they did pop up as an introduction in Thor and Iron Man 2 so we sort of knew of them as people before The Avengers took off. I didn’t know they were in development with other people, so that’s a good deciding factor for not including them.

      As for anyone interpreting my work, I think at this point I’d be all for it. Have at it, get my name out there, give me some money and we are good to go. It might completely piss me off (Stephen King and the Kuberick version of The Shinning for example) but after I have a few million under the belt I can go back and insist on my own version, like Stephen King did with the TV mini series of The Shinning. Unless I’d be lucky enough like JK Rowling to actually be able to work with the screenwriters during the adaptation phase. I think I’d be OK with changes as long as the main point of the story was still there. I could write another whole post on the adaptation of Forrest Gump from book to movie though….. I’m not sure how the author felt about the movie version but he should have been glad that someone changed his story into something good LOL!!!

  6. Well, I’m not a comic fan myself, but as for adaptations in general it really depends on how they handle it. Pelican Brief comes to mind, a great book by Grisham. The movie promised to be great as well, with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington – except that they changed the characters around. The movie was great, but they changed one of the main characters of the book with someone else and it made watching the movie just a little – off. I’m not so good with change…

    • I know I’ve read the book and watched the movie but it’s been so many years I can’t hardly remember either! But I know what you mean, if there is a change that just doesn’t make sense, even to someone who has never read the book, then its’ not good. I think the number 1 rule for the person doing the adaptation is to make sure they are writing what will be a good movie, if they can’t do that even with their changes, they need to find something else to change, or keep it the same, whatever it takes to make it translate to film properly.

      • I agree! In this case, I guess they wanted Denzel to star in it, so changed the lead character so that he would fit the bill. He was awesome, he IS awesome, but it just isn’t the way the book went.

  7. I, too, loved The Avengers. I saw it in theaters twice! I liked the mash-up of story lines; there was a lot going on. And The Avengers was just a great movie. My sister is the one in my family who’s read a lot of the comic books (not as many as Woo but she’s still read enough to fill me in sometimes), and she loved it. I think she saw it in theaters four times. =) I think, like books, it can be done either. I know that in books, I prefer it to stick pretty close (if they change the story line too much, I feel like they’re stealing the title for something else). But comic books? It’s action, it’s awesomeness…I personally like when they fill in more action and less drama (but still enough for us to know what’s going on and why). =)

    • When you mentioned that it’s like stealing a title, that made me think of the Lawnmower Man movie… well I haven’t seen it since I was a little kid but as far as I remember the movie had pretty much the title only in common with the book.

  8. Hey there! The Dark Globe follower appreciation post sent me here. I really like this blog. 🙂 And I’m good with adaptations. Sometimes I get a little distracted when I’ve become attached to a book, and then they change things around in a movie version – but usually I just enjoy seeing everything on the big screen. And I *loved* The Avengers. Never read any of the comics, but I’d like to. And as far as mixing up the timelines and details, I don’t think I mind that too much. It can be distracting at first, but I guess, in order to make things fit in a movie and keep a good pace, it makes sense.

    • Thank you!

      I like seeing things on the big screen too, it’s like visiting a good friend again or something.

  9. Hey, Laura — Bang! What a good post. Thanks!

  10. I LOVED Avengers… that is all..

  11. I haven’t yet seen the Avengers! And I really don’t know a lot about comic adaptations. Aaand I don’t think I know who Joss Whedon is.

    So, I can’t really add anything intelligent to the discussion like I usually do. Sorry. 😉

    However, judging from how this discussion has been rolling, seems like it’s a hot topic. So, great post L!

  12. I can’t wait to see The Avengers! I feel a bit like a twelve year old boy when I enjoy comic book adaptations 🙂 But as I never read the originals they’re all fresh to me!

    • ohh it’s so great! I loved it. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t had anything else going on that day I would have turned right around and gone back to watch it again.

  13. I was on the wall about seeing this movie, but your review has swayed me. I plan to see it this weekend. TY for sharing.

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