12 Comic Books Which Deserve Their Own Movie

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 at 5:27 pm
By Shane Rivers

The Watchmen movie finally hits theaters on March 6th. It’s an event that’s long overdue, and I felt compelled to do something to mark the occasion.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of 12 comic books which deserve their own movie. Some made the list through the downright coolness of their lead characters, while others were included simply because their basic premise seemed to scream “Hollywood blockbuster.”

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While most (if not all) of these titles will never see the big screen, that won’t stop a comic/movie geek like me from dreaming. After all, it took Watchmen over 20 years to wind up in the can, so that means anything is possible.

Whether you agree, disagree, or have your own list of possible comic book adaptations, be sure to shoot me an email and weigh in with your opinions. And don’t forget so see Watchmen, opening nationwide on March 6th. Hurm.

1. Miracleman

Miracleman Comic MovieJust like with Watchmen, Alan Moore’s work on Miracleman was nothing short of brilliant. The comic follows the exploits of Miracleman, a superhuman individual who appears whenever journalist Mike Moran utters the word “Kimota.”

The violence is epic and unflinching, featuring people being thrown down to Earth from orbit and over 40,000 residents of London being massacred during a rampage by the mad Kid Miracleman, a former sidekick of the titular hero. This is one comic that’s not for the kiddies.

Of course, I’m not holding my breath. Due to the graphic nature of the title, there’s little possibility that Miracleman ever makes it to the big screen. Still, it would be great to see a much darker superhero movie which pulls no punches.

2. The Demon

The Demon Comic MovieEtrigan the Demon was brought about by Merlin, as the wizard needed assistance in saving Camelot from the machinations of the evil Morgaine le Fey. When Jason Blood foolishly assisted the sorceress, he was cursed by Merlin to play host to the demonic Etrigan.

Centuries later, Blood still houses one of the most powerful demons of Hell and constantly battles it for control. Much like the Hulk, Etrigan has played the role of both hero and villain, and he’s also held the rank of “rhyming demon” (meaning everything he says must be spoken in the form of a rhyme).

If Hollywood is looking for another story about a man battling his inner demon (literally), then The Demon could be just the ticket. It’s got a supernatural twist, plus flashbacks could include such lavish settings as Camelot. How cool would that be?

3. Powers

Detective Christian Walker used to be a superhero. These days, he’s without powers and working as a homicide cop. Powers Comic MovieAs he begins the process of breaking in a new partner named Deena Pilgrim, he gets word that his next case is investigating the murder of Retro Girl, a former superhero teammate and lover.

Created by Brian Michael Bendis, Powers has big-screen hit written all over it. It’s a perfect melding of the superhero and cop genres, and there’s more than enough material for a number of sequels.

The debut story arc, entitled “Who Killed Retro Girl?”, would be perfect for the first film. Not only do we meet Walker, Pilgrim and the other regulars of their precinct house, but we slowly learn more about the superhero community and the dangers they face.

Attempts have been made for a Powers adaptation, although results have so-far been disappointing. A movie deal was reportedly signed with Sony, and Bendis has indicated that a Powers television series might eventually come to FX. As of this writing, neither of these has materialized.

4. Rising Stars

Rising Stars Comic MovieCreated by J. Michael Straczynski, Rising Stars was a 24-issue limited series about a group of 113 special people who develop superpowers. The government quickly intervenes to help raise these kids, and many go on to hold important positions in the world. But as the series starts, someone is beginning to pick off these “specials” one-by-one.

Not only does Rising Stars provide a setting with superheroes, it also offers a kick-ass murder mystery. And the fun doesn’t stop there; we’re also treated to political intrigue, massive battles and the conquest of Chicago by “specials.“ Good stuff.

While all the events that occur might best lend themselves to a trilogy of films, the title would also work well as a television series (maybe that‘s why Sam Raimi‘s production company was trying to develop it as such in 2006). Heck, shows like Heroes and 4400 have already shamelessly lifted from this title, so why not give it the opportunity it deserves?

5. Bone

Bone Comic MovieThis fantasy series, created by Jeff Smith, won 10 Eisner Awards and 11 Harvey Awards. With a combination of dark themes and off-the-wall humor, Bone is the rare title which can captivate both adults and children.

After the Bone cousins – white cartoon creatures named Phoney, Fone and Smiley – arrive in the medieval village of Barrelhaven, they waste no time in accidentally getting involved in a battle between the forces of good and evil. As they assist a lost princess named Thorn, the comical Bones must contend with the evil Lord of the Locusts and his rat creature minions.

After a failed effort in the 90s to bring Bone to theaters – in which Nickelodeon wanted to aim the film at kids and include songs from N’Sync – Warner Bros. purchased the film rights in 2008. The current plan is to adapt Bone into a movie series, and I’m hard-pressed to think of a title more deserving.

6. Preacher

Preacher Comic MovieCreated by Garth Ennis, Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a preacher who accidentally bonds with a powerful entity named Genesis. Following this life-altering event, Custer hits the road in search of God, who he learns has abandoned his throne in Heaven. Along the journey, he’s accompanied by his assassin ex-girlfriend, Tulip O’Hare, and a 100-year-old Irish vampire named Cassidy.

Soaked with blood and whiskey, Preacher would make for about the most irreverent and blasphemous film ever made. In 2008, HBO executives even decided to abandon the project due to the potential controversy. Luckily, Columbia Pictures purchased the rights, and Sam Mendes (American Beauty) is currently scheduled to direct. As of January 2009, a new script was being written.

Even if Preacher become a movie, there’s no way it will be like the comic book series; that would simply be too controversial. After all, we’re talking about a title which featured bestiality, inbreeding, murder, torture, a kid named “Arseface,“ and every other kind of imaginable mayhem. Then again, maybe that’s exactly why it was so popular in the first place.

7. Runaways

Runaways Comic MovieIf Hollywood is searching for something to draw in the tween crowd, they should look no further than a comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona entitled Runaways. When six kids realize their parents are supervillains, they decide to band together to fight them. This results in a group of rebellious youths armed with magic, technology and even a telepathic dinosaur.

Well-suited for a franchise, Runaways is a comic book which has a little something for everyone. Fans of the title should keep their fingers crossed, as a Runaways film has been tentatively scheduled for 2011. While that’s likely to get pushed back for years, it’s still encouraging that someone in Hollywood recognizes the potential of this comic book.

8. The Authority

The first and still best of the “widescreen” comics, The Authority was like a Hollywood action film on steroids (and a budget of about a billion dollars). Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, the comic followed the adventures of a group of superheroes as they attempted to make a positive impact on the world, eventually going so far as to take control of it.

The Authority Comic MovieThe inaugural story arc of the series would be perfectly suited for a film, as The Authority must band together for the first time to combat the superpowered armies of a madman. Along the way, Moscow is completely leveled and part of London is wiped out. Millions die, and the members of The Authority (Jenny Sparks, Apollo, Midnighter, The Doctor, The Engineer, Swift and Jack Hawksmoor) are pushed to their limits.

While it would be the ultimate chest-thumping movie, there are a couple of reasons why The Authority movie will probably never happen. First, it’s just too damned violent, and the MPAA would no doubt louse things up. Secondly, I doubt a studio is going to commit a massive budget to a film about superheroes who aren’t household names (unless, of course, Will Smith ended up playing one of the characters).

9. Power Man and Iron Fist

Power Man and Iron Fist Comic MovieTake a super-strong black guy who can’t be hurt by bullets and utters phrases like “Sweet Christmas” and combine him with a martial arts master who has supernatural fighting abilities. Mix it all together and you get Power Man and Iron Fist, the original “Heroes for Hire.”

Blue-collar heroes through-and-through, the duo had an office and would often charge fees to take on missions (although they would also work for free is particularly deserving cases). This is a dynamic we haven’t seen before in superhero movies, and the white guy/black guy pairing would be reminiscent of Riggs and Murtaugh (or Samuel L. Jackson and Emelio Estevez).

And since neither of these guys can fly or shoot laser beams, the audience would be guaranteed to get plenty of good hand-to-hand action. That’s something that’s really missing in most movies from the past 15 years.

10. The Dark Knight Returns

The Watchmen comic has finally been brought to the big screen, so why not The Dark Knight Returns? They are, after all, the most famous graphic novels in the history of comic books.

The Dark Knight Returns Comic MovieThe series follows the exploits of a much older Batman. After being retired for a decade, he’s drawn back to crimefighting by the deteriorating condition of Gotham City. With a new Robin by his side, Batman battles The Joker, a violent street gang named “The Mutants” and even The Man of Steel himself.

While there are currently no plans for a Dark Knight Returns film, the success of the Batman franchise means there’s always a chance. If it ever does happen, my money is on Mickey Rourke to play a burned-out Batman/Bruce Wayne.

11. Fables

Bill Willingham started writing Fables in 2002, taking a number of storybook characters available in the public domain and giving them a unique twist. As the series begins, these characters have been driven from their storybook homelands and forced to set up a secret community (“Fabletown”) in the heart of New York City.

Fables Comic MovieOld King Cole serves as the mayor of Fabletown, although most of the day-to-day work is handled by his deputy mayor, Snow White. The Big Bad Wolf – now reformed and calling himself “Bigby T. Wolf – acts as the sheriff of the community. When Snow’s no-account sister Rose Red winds up dead, Bigby and Snow White must work together to solve the mystery (this comprises the first story arc known as Legends in Exile).

Even though the title is populated with characters from children’s stories, the tone is decidedly adult. People drop dead left and right, and everybody seems to have slept with everyone else (including Prince Charming and his 1,400 + sexual conquests). Still, it would be nice to have a comic book adaptation that was just for the grown-ups.

In 2005, NBC tried to develop a Fables series for television, but it never got past the scripting stage. ABC picked up the rights in 2008, and development continues.

12. Green Arrow

Green Arrow Comic MovieOriginally created to be an archery-themed version of Batman, the Green Arrow would be ideal for a big-screen adaptation. He started life as Oliver Queen, a playboy millionaire, but things changed when he was pushed overboard from his yacht and became stranded on a desert island.

After building a makeshift bow and arrows for hunting, Queen slowly became an expert with the weapon. When drug smugglers landed on the island, Queen captured them and developed a taste for fighting crime. Returning home, he used his fortune to continue his training and develop more sophisticated arrows.

With his Robin Hood-like costume, his gritty sense of justice and his on-again, off-again romance with the sexy Black Canary, Green Arrow could be the next big franchise. After all, who wouldn’t want to see a boxing-glove arrow fired on the big screen at least once?