Movie or Novel?

After watching the brief clips of Watchmen I decided to look into other recent movies that derived from graphic novels. I not only heard bad reviews of Watchmen the movie in class, but from other peers I spoke to as well. I became curious to see if all comics are better left as is, in print. My original answer to that question was no, thinking of all the popular movies such as the Batman, Spider Man and Avenger movies. I was surprised to find out these superhero based comics didn’t even make many of the “Top Ten” lists I found. This realization brought me to my next question of why some of the best written comics do not translate into film?

I think it is difficult to translate a movie with such a sense of fantasy into film when the “hero” character has multiple personalities or sides such as superman and Kent Clark or Spider man and Peter Parker. We are able to believe the comic easily because of the quick scene changes that only work on paper since we are aware that they cannot include every possible movement without ending up as a 3000 page graphic novel. The difference in a movie is that all scenes are expected and when we watch Kent Clark interact with humans and quickly disappear and come back 30 seconds later as Superman it seems extremely unrealistic and impossible. The graphic novel allows for a some imagination as to how things are possible in between the grids.  However one imagines this transition would happen, can in fact be how it does happen, because the space in between panels is left up to the imagination. A graphic novel can be interpreted in many different ways, a movie is much more straight forward.

Movies also tend to go deeper into the relationships between the hero character and their significant other. This is always a hard concept to grasp for me because I don’t understand how a girlfriend never wonders where her boyfriend constantly disappears to. If the movie does not address this question it becomes unrealistic and less believable which results in a poor movie. The graphic novel is able to skip over some of the relationship situations because they simply do not have the time or space. Considering a movie is typically between an hour and half to two hours, they need to look into that relationship deeply, this difference is a key in why some graphic novels do not translate as well into film.

I think a lot of why movies such as Batman and Spider Man are as successful as they have been is the simple franchise idea. Whether it is a great film does not matter as much anymore because people have become so attached to the stories and characters through the graphic novel first they feel obligated to see the movie. This pays a big tribute to the entire graphic novel genre and the film industry owes the authors a big thank you for helping the sales of their moves be as successful as they are.


  2 comments for “Movie or Novel?

  1. kfortier
    March 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Although I can agree with you that not all comics translate into film perfectly, I completely disagree that the only basis of their success is a franchise. I believe that movies are an accessible way for people who were not brought up with comics to get interested in comics. It’s the perfect gateway! Comics are intimidating for beginners and the films allow a newcomer to gain interest in the general idea before they dive into some long, involved storyline. Though it can be frustrating for many purists to see their characters and story lines often warped for film adaptation, I do not think it is the crisis situation that many make it out to be. Film has many great attributes that add to the rest of the story. I’ve always found it better to watch films before I read the books– they might be different but the books will always fill in the gaps for what the movie could not interpret or contain. In summary, comic films are really great in general, and even though they can’t always get it right (I’m looking at you, Watchmen and Daredevil), they’re still a really awesome medium for a lot of people.

  2. aallen13
    March 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I would have to say that I enjoy watching some of my favorite comics on the big screen. The movie is able to bring my imagination to life, whether it’s exactly what I pictured or not. I do agree that sometimes some comics should be left a lone and not made into movies because it can be hard to portray certain actions in film. I completely agree with you about the relationship thing I mean really are they that oblivious? But then again it is Hollywood so they have to go off script and must appeal to a broad audience. If you think about it, there are probably girls/wives who have never read any of the comics but go see the movie because their boyfriend/husband loves the comics. So in order to keep them engaged they draw out the romance scenes. As obnoxious as they can be (Kirsten Dunst aka Mary Jane) those scenes are appealing to someone.

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