3 Comic Books That Should Be Adapted Into Films

There’s no denying it at this point, comic book-based films are the top dog of the modern movie industry. As such, studios are looking to find ways to adapt any promising series or story arch that presents itself.

That said, there are a lot of properties and ideas that have yet to be considered that really should be (I dare argue that even the Green Lantern movie could have been improved with the presence of Dex-Starr, the Red Lantern cat).

So, to all those young film talents looking for ideas and fellow geeks looking to hound studios to work on stuff, here are some comics I’d like to see on the big screen (provided they don’t screw them up, of course).

Ms. Marvel

marvel

Dear Marvel; if you’re looking for an actress for the part, my friend Jamie can fill the role. Source: Jamie Poison on Facebook

With Wonder Woman set to have her own film in a little over 2 years, it seems appropriate Marvel should be there to meet DC with their own golden girl.

Ms. Marvel is probably the one character that could match Wonder Woman for the title of ‘most important female figure in comics’ and has a wealth of backstory to work from. I would talk at length about it, but A) that would be an article in its own right and B) MovieBob beat me to it years ago and did it far better than I could.

There have been some rumblings of Ms. Marvel appearing in Avengers 2, but the stories are slim on information at this at this point and could all be speculation with little confirmed. Still, it would be a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Update: Apparently Ms. Marvel is scheduled to make an appearance in 2018. Good for you, Marvel.

Blacksad

Dirty Harry ain’t got nothing.
Source: Wikipedia

You know what kind of story is sadly absent from movies? The film noir detective yarn. We saw attempts to use comics to revive the genre with some action tropes in the form of Sin City and The Spirit, but director/writer Frank Miller is to good story what Rob Liefeld is to attractive sequential art (that one was all the comic geeks out there).

Instead, I suggest trying again with Blacksad, an award-winning, Spanish produced, French detective comic set in 1950’s America that follows hard-boiled investigator John Blacksad as he investigates major crimes and deals with issues like political unrest and inter-racial violence.

The comic uses a technique that is not often seen today due to social stigmas; the use of anthropomorphic animal characters to help build personalities. For example, Blacksad’s character as a black cat is a clever twist on the ‘bad luck seems to follow me’ cliché.

We need some good, clever drama in film. And I think Blacksad could provide.

And speaking of great comics starring fur-clad heroes…

Usagi Yojimbo

And now you know what the killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail went on to do.
Source: Cover Browser

One of my favorite film genres and the one that’s least likely to be brought up in casual conversation among my associates is chanbara (literally, “sword fighting” in Japanese); a set of samurai action films that helped to inspire and shape American Westerns.

I mention this because Usagi Yojimbo (translation; “Rabbit Bodyguard”) is possibly the best chance to revive the genre.

Set in the Edo period of Japan, the story follows the adventures of the white rabbit ronin Miyamoto Usagi (a clever play-on-words of the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi) as he fights wars and slays mythical monsters while offering the sage wisdom of a man that seeks the best in himself after seeing the absolute worst that others can offer.

If the character sounds familiar to you, you were probably a huge fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a kid as the two made cameos in the other’s stories from time to time.

If you’re still unsure as to how high quality an Usagi Yojimbo film would be, I recommend checking out the short motion comic to sample the closest thing available at the moment.

Three Criminally Under-Rated Christmas Specials

Today, we’ll be rounding out the trifecta of Christmas cheer with one last look at an aspect of the holidays that we all share.

It’s kind of sad that we don’t see any more Christmas specials on television. Instead, we just get the same string of Harry Potter movies that we get on Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Back in my day, we got a flood of great shows and movies around this time of year. So, in an attempt to reintroduce variety, please accept this short collection of Christmas specials that time has seemed to forget.

A Wish for Wings That Work

Peanuts wasn’t the only comic strip to get a holiday special; many people tend to forget the often politicized Outland whose most recognizable character – Opus the Penguin – got a book that was adapted for T.V.

Opus laments the fact that he was born a penguin as this means he’s a bird that can’t fly. After making a wish for fight capable wings to Santa, he starts on a journey of self-acceptance and pride in who he is.

The special features amazing visuals and gives its cast tons of personality via the political and social commentary that Outland was known for. What’s more, it also features amazing voice talent and direction – including an appearance from the recently and dearly departed Robin Williams as the disgruntled kiwi George.

This special teaches the lesson that Mick Jagger taught before it: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes,… you’ll get what you need.”

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

There have been a lot Christmas stories that attempted to revise the origins of Santa, but this one is my personal favorite.

This retelling paints the joyful holiday figure as the adopted child of immortal forces and follows his literal fight for the right to spread happiness.

As to be expected from the man who created the world of Oz, this story is grand and fantastical in scope. Combine this with the nostalgic twinge of that classic Rankin/Bass animation, and the special is a real treat.

There is a traditionally animated revision of this movie for those who hate on stop-motion animation, but I actually recommend the original for its more epic scale – especially the climax that plays out like a battle ripped straight out of one of The Lord of the Rings movies.

The Stingiest Man in Town

Another thing we aren’t lacking in the Christmas department are versions of A Christmas Carol. But, if I had to choose one, this would be it.

In the past, I’ve voiced a displeasure with musicals, but this one isn’t bad and is actually quite well written and performed. Part of that may be due to the fact that it was adapted from an original Broadway musical.

This special, although it skips over or rushes past a few iconic moments from other renditions, does so in order to expand on and focus on others. This helps us to better see and appreciate Scrooge’s transformation into the good man we know he’ll become in the end.

I could never actually choose one version of this classic, but this one is absolutely worth seeing.

Three Great Animated Movies for Halloween

October has to be my favorite month of the year. It starts with the changing leaves of Autumn, my birthday falls right in the middle of it, and it’s cap-stoned by Halloween – my absolute favorite holiday of all time.

Sadly, most so-called ‘Halloween movies’ are just standard horror films which leave me cold. I want to watch a Halloween movie ABOUT Halloween (no, the movie Halloween doesn’t count).

Thankfully, I found a small list of films that I feel capture the true spirit of the day (or night as you see fit) with out the need for overused horror tropes. And by odd coincidence, they all happen to be animated features.

The Halloween Tree

This was the Halloween movie I grew up with – not The Nightmare Before Christmas, Not It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; THIS.

The plot involves a quartet of kids getting ready for trick or treating with their mutual pal Pip when they see him getting rushed to the hospital for acute appendicitis. Upon finding what appears to be Pip’s Ghost (suggesting he died before he could receive his appendectomy) they follow him to the estate of Mr. Moundshroud (played wonderfully by Leonard Nimoy) which starts a chase for Pip to save his life.

This plot serves only as a driving force. The real point of the movie is to have the kids, and the audience by extension, learn the cultural significance of Halloween as well as the symbolic meanings behind their choice of costumes.

This movie serves as a nice history lesson on All Hallows Eve as well as a touching story about self-discovery and confronting the fear of death.

Witch’s Night Out

This would be the ‘odd duck’ choice on this list.

The story focuses primarily on an aging witch (again played wonderfully, this time by Gilda Radner) upset that so few people cherish Halloween. This is further illustrated by how the adults of the nearby town scoff at modern Halloween traditions in favor of a more “meaningful” Halloween. Our witch finds a few children who still have the spirit of the night in them however and, with their help, teaches the true purpose of Halloween.

According to this movie, and my own personal beliefs, Halloween is the one night that we can allow ourselves to become the things that we won’t allow ourselves to be the rest of the year. That’s why we dress up as all manner of monsters and fictional characters. It’s a night of grand fantasy and high adventure and we should all embrace it.

Sure the animation is rough and the voice acting is a bit hit or miss, but this movie and it’s Christmas themed predecessor, The Gift of Winter,  are heart-warming tales worth watching.

Halloween Is Grinch Night

Dr. Seuss was great at weaving subtle messages and life lessons into his work. For example, Green Eggs and Ham is about trying new things, while The Butter Battle Book serves as a cautionary tale of the nuclear arms race.

In this film however, we see the return of The Grinch played by Hans Conried (who you may know better as either Snideley Whiplash from The Bullwinkle Show or Captain Hook from Disney’s Peter Pan) who serves as the embodiment of fear. The story’s main focus is on a small Who named Euchariah who confronts The Grinch and all of the various fears he has to offer to stop him from reaching the other Whos.

The theme of confronting fear lends itself well to a Halloween story. The one moment that illustrates this best is the infamous ‘Paraphernalia Wagon’ scene. Look carefully and you’ll see allusions to several common childhood fears and general phobias that assault Euchariah without any signs of slowing.

By recognizing fear, you recognize potential danger. By facing it knowing the danger it may carry in the name of the greater good, you demonstrate courage. This is a lesson that could only be appreciated the way Dr. Seuss delivers it here.

What The Heck Was That In ‘Thor: The Dark World’?

“I’m-a just stand here all sexy for the ladies in the audience and beat the crap out of giants, ‘kay?”
Source: Paste Magazine

So, over the weekend, me and a dear friend saw Thor: The Dark World and it’s every bit as good as the previous installment (meaning as good as the original Thor; there’s no way it could compare to The Avengers).

However, there were several nods to various things that my friend needed explained. Then I realized that others may need a primer as well. As such, here is my SPOILER FILLED explanation of some of the events in Thor: The Dark World.

Why Aren’t The Dark Elves Dark Skinned?

“We were going to be the Immortals in ‘300’, but Frank Miller was being a dork.”
Source: Marvel Movies Wiki

This is a sad result of us – the audience – suffering from cultural colonization and misinterpretation of lore.

When most of those of a geeky persuasion hear the term ‘dark elf,’ we tend to think of the drow; a race of dark-skinned, subterranean elves made popular by Dungeons & Dragons. However, these dark elves have no connection to Norse mythology or even elves in general.

The drow we know, originally called trow, are actually hideous and mischievous fairy folk from Celtic folklore that have no connection to Norse mythology other than that they bear a strong resemblance to the trolls of Scandinavian legend.

Nordic dark elves, more accurately known as Dökkálfar, are the diametric opposites of the light elves or Ljósálfar. Because Celtic and Old Nordic cultures drew from one another, it’s likely the two stories were combined over generations.

Granted many Norse legends describe the Dökkálfar as “blacker than pitch,” but here, I feel they went with a more traditional elf appearance to draw greater attention to the primordial darkness that was their world before the universe as we know it manifested rather than a physically dark appearance.

Also, our big bad of the film Malekith does begin to look more like a traditional Dökkálfar later in the film as he draws closer to his evil goal (I won’t say how; have to keep the spoilers to a minimum) and making them pale white sets up our next topic.

What’s The Significance Of Thor Scorching Melekith’s Face?

“I’m gonna Harvey Dent the hell out of this film!”
Source: NerdyButFlirty.com

In a display of the utter badassery that he’s known for, one scene has Thor blasting a fleeing Melekith in the face with the lightning of Mjölnir permanently burning half of his face. Why is this a big deal?

Well, it draws a parallel with Hel, the Goddess of Death. In the original myth, Hel was the child of Loki who presided over Niflheim, the World of Darkness. Did you see what they did there?

There are many depictions of Hel’s appearance including half-human/half-blank or half-alive/half-dead, but most art depicts her as half-pale white/half-pitch black. So going with the most recognizable depiction makes the most sense from a storytelling standpoint.

Who Was That Weirdo In The Ending Stinger and What Is An ‘Infinity Stone’?

Surprisingly, this is NOT the illegitimate child of David Bowie.
Source: 10 Minutes from Hell

I’ll be honest; the man who inspired me to do this blog, MovieBob, did a whole episode of The Big Picture all about this particular weirdness and I encourage you all to watch it on the grounds that he explains it better than I ever could hope to. That said, I can help to try and fill in a few of the smaller gaps.

So, as he was introduced, the very eccentric acting fellow in the obligatory Marvel end credit stinger is Taneleer Tivan, The Collector. He is a member of a pantheon of characters known as the Elders of the Universe who comprise the oldest sentient beings in the universe and are essentially the Marvel Universe equivalent of gods. In Collector’s case, his life goal is to preserve the universe by collecting specimens of it.

So, what about these Infinity Stones that they mentioned? It’s almost certain that they meant the Infinity Gems, six powerful stones that grant different powers on their own, but when combined into the settings of the Infinity Gauntlet can make their wielder nigh unstoppable.

Only one villain in the Marvel Universe has completed the Infinity Gauntlet: Thanos, The Mad Titan. Who is he? Well, you met him in the stinger from The Avengers. He’s the big, purple guy with the evil smile. He wants to destroy most of the known universe as a tribute to the love of his life, the physical embodiment of Death. This makes that whole, “To challenge them is to court Death” line both amusing and terrifying.

So, judging from the events of the films and comics, it seems the Tesseract will serve as the blue Mind Gem granting access to the minds of others and enhancing mental powers and our new maguffin, the Aether, will stand in for the red Power Gem accessing all energy that has, does, and will ever exist. What’s more, The Collector seems to be helping Thanos gather the stones on the grounds that, with most of the universe gone, his specimens will become that much more valuable.

So, What About The Movie?

It’s great. I won’t say it was better than the first Thor like most critics, but it was certainly on par and made me care to see what else Marvel has in store for its cinematic universe. And don’t worry; even with the spoilers I mentioned, there are plenty of twists to shock you. Go see it now.

Theoretically Fascinating: A Look At Interesting Fan Theories

Shown here is a simulation of my brain after finishing research on this article.
Source: LastNameFirst.tv

Fan theories are, at least from my end, a welcome addition to storytelling narratives. It lets the audience speculate and imagine, letting them feel as if they are contributing something to the story. Basically, it more deeply engages the viewer or reader while forcing them to think about something they care about in a new light.

Since one of the goals of this page is to facilitate thought (even if it is on such a geeky topic), I thought it would be good to talk about some of the theories I’ve heard that have sparked my interest and helped to change the way we look at our favorite stories.

DISCLAIMER: None of the following have been confirmed as canonical; it is merely speculation by fans. If something offends you DO NOT complain to the writers. Instead, respectfully debate the possibility of these theories being true and/or share your own theories in the comments.

Disney’s Aladdin Is A Phony Sales Pitch… Or Is It?

“If I tell you a fantastical story, will you please buy my crap?”
Source: Disney Wiki

The tale of Aladdin is a well-loved Middle Eastern tale (well, a Chinese tale actually) that has enchanted many a person over the years. But fans of the Disney interpretation have raised an interesting thought: what if the whole story was an elaborate lie from an Agrabah snake oil salesman?

In the opening moments of the film, we are introduced to a shady peddler  wandering the dark nighttime alleys of Agrabah. After addressing the audience directly and after a few failed attempts to sell a broken hookah pipe/coffee maker and a box he markets as ‘Dead Sea Tupperware’, he presents us with the magic lamp that will drive the plot.

However, certain facts don’t mesh well. If this lamp is such an amazing historical artifact, how did a common merchant come across it? Why push worthless junk first if you have something that is of true value to sell first? Why, if it’s so valuable, is it not a treasure of the royal family or in a museum? It’s more likely that this man is just making up a magnificent story in order to sell you a worthless trinket.

An alternate theory suggests, however, that the peddler is telling the truth and that he knows Aladdin’s story because he is in fact the Genie of the Lamp himself in magical disguise.

This makes some sense; The peddler’s clothes match the color scheme of the genie – a running theme in his human forms, they share similar facial features, they have identical bombastic personalities, they are the only characters with four fingers on each hand, and both are voiced by Robin Williams.

Also, watch the final scene of the movie when Aladdin wishes for the Genie’s freedom more closely. The lamp disappears from Aladdin’s hands when Genie shakes them. Could he have palmed the lamp without anyone noticing?

Sadly, we’ll never know which, if either, of these stories is true until we hear it from the creators themselves.

Majora’s Mask Is A Eulogy To Navi (And Possibly Link)

Rest in peace, mute elf boy and loudmouth lightning bug.
Source: Man vs. Game

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is easily one of the darkest entries in the series (yes, even more so than Twilight Princess). But just how dark did it get without us knowing?

Many believe that the locales that make up the land of Termina – Clock Town, Woodfall, Snowhead, Great Bay, and Ikana Canyon – and the order you are forced to visit them in are symbolic of the Kübler-Ross Stages of Grief – grief that Link feels after losing his fairy companion Navi in the previous game, Ocarina of Time.

The areas visited, and thusly the stages of grief, go as such. In Clock Town, the citizens are in denial of the moon clearly falling on their city. In Woodfall, the king takes his undue anger for his missing daughter out on a helpless monkey. In Snowhead, the ghost of the goron hero Darmani bargains with Link to use his magic to either resurrect him or give his soul peace. At Great Bay, the zora lady Lulu is in a deep depression over the loss of her eggs. It is only after confronting denial, anger, bargaining, and depression that Link scales the tower at Ikana Canyon and claims the Light Arrow – a light symbolic of the mental enlightenment that comes with the acceptance of the nature of his struggle.

Some fans have taken this theory further and suggest that Link’s grief is towards his own mortality. This makes sense according to the official timeline. In the next game, Twilight Princess, Link confronts a skeletal specter called the Hero’s Spirit who is the undead incarnation of the previous Link from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask and bares a strong resemblance to villains known as stalfos.

Majora’s Mask opens and closes with Link searching for Navi in the Lost Woods that, according to legends spoken of in Ocarina of Time, will turn any lost soul unfortunate enough to die there into a stalfos. Could Link have died in the search for Navi and returned as a stalfos in Twilight Princess to pass on the, “…lessons of his life to those who came after him?” We may never know.

James Bond Is Many Men With No Name

“Doe… John Doe.”
Source: Movie Roar

James Bond, for all of his many flaws, is a great character. He isn’t a perfect godsend like some more poorly written heroes. He’s clearly flawed and human… but why do those flaws seem to change with the actors portraying him?

The easy answer is differences in creative vision, but that isn’t the answer for those who don’t want to lose their sense of immersion in the story. Instead, fans have formed a brilliant explanation for these changes in personality as well as physical appearance: James Bond isn’t a real person; it’s a code name.

Seems to be a legitimate answer, right? After all, when you’re a member of a top secret government organization, you don’t want to be easily traced back to your employer if captured or killed. So you would naturally use an alias. Perhaps MI6 created the moniker of James Bond to be used by Agent 007 and continue to use it for all of his successors.

Not only is this reasonable from a practical standpoint, it also works from a storytelling view as well. So called ‘legacy heroes’ are nothing new in fiction. To use comic books as an example of this, there have been five Robins, four Flashes, three Blue Beetles, and lord-knows-how-many Green Lanterns (okay, it’s six if you only count the ones from Earth, but there’s a whole corps of them around the galaxy at any given moment).

Making a character a legacy hero allows him or her to reflect on or react to the identity of the previous mantle-holders and gives them another outlet to expand and build their own identity. Perhaps the makers of the Bond films considered this as a storytelling tool. If not, it’s not to late to consider it retroactively.

Why Spend So Much Time On Fan Theories?

As stated, part of my goal is to make people think about things in a new light and fan theories do just that. They make you reconsider the world of an author’s creation through a new contextual lens and view the characters, their struggles, and their final resolution with deeper meaning.

On top of that, it’s just a lot of fun and good for making you think! It’s almost a sport to see what hidden stories the author may have left for your imagination to work out. It’s good mental exercise to ask, “what if?”

What if Ferris Bueller was just an imaginary facet of Cameron’s personality? What if ‘The Bride’ Beatrix Kiddo didn’t actually kill Bill? What if the entirety of all stories on television took place in a daydream in an autistic child’s mind? These are puzzles of our own creation and new ones will come to forever perplex and intrigue as long as there are storytellers to leave them for us to discover.