Movies Based on Graphic Novels\Comics (No Superheroes, Sean!)

TMPWe’re always glad when another Thursday rolls around because our dear friend Wanderer over at Wondering Through The Shelves has provided us with yet another opportunity to rip each other’s heads off. Agreeing or disagreeing never seems to matter because we do both so vehemently you can hardly tell the difference! This week we’re talking about movies based on graphic novels or comics – but they CAN’T be about superheroes, which is a caveat that is no doubt making Sean break out into cold sweats. “No superheroes?”, he’s probably thinking, “Then what’s the point?”

Jay

Wrinkles (Arrugas) – This is originally a Spanish movie, an animated one actually, but there’s a dubbed English version featuring the voice work of Martin Sheen and Matthew Modine. It’s based on the comic book Arrugas by Paco Roca. I hadn’t heard of this movie until someone from this very blogging community reviewed it on her site and it sent my little radar to wrinkles_2885994bsniffing. Imagine a comic book about old people, if you will, some of them shuffling around with the whiff of Alzheimer’s infusing their comings and goings in a retirement residence where not everyone is pleased to be confined. It’s at times very sad, but never sentimental. It’s very smartly done and the dedication that comes at the end – to all the old people of today, and of tomorrow – is a subtle elbow to the ribs.

Snowpiercer – This one’s based on a French graphic novel called Le Transperceneige by Jacques snowpiercerLob. I came across mention of this movie in a magazine and got Sean all hopped up about this crazy movie that’s about a perpetually-moving train filled with feuding classes of people. Raw, brutal, stabby: just the kind of movie that gives him a chubby. But then the movie never opened. We searched high and low, and the movie just never came because Evil Lord Weinstein decided that suppressing a movie with vision and ambition would be a nifty way to wield his power and remind people that dumb Americans need his help to watch and interpret movies.

Old Boy – I’m watching the Spike Lee 2013 version starring Josh Brolin because I’d seen the Korean one a million years ago but never this one (I was still recovering) – in any case, they’re both obviously based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Nobuaki Minegishi and oldboyGaron Tsuchiya. So this guy gets kidnapped and imprisoned for twenty years in some hotel room. He has no idea why, or who, but one day he’s suddenly released and given 82 hours to figure out who’s been behind the whole thing. It’s a bloody movie. Like, if you think Drive is a little much, well, it’s actually a sunny stroll in the park compared to this. It’s fucking twisted. The American remake is a little soulless, comparatively, but it gets the job done and will make you want to seek out the source material, in which case, well – good luck with that.

Sean

Blade – sometimes vampires are also supervilllains, or very rarely, superheroes.  But in the interest of including this movie in my picks this week, let’s just agree that Blade is pretty much a regular guy with no superpowers except being the near-invincible Daywalker hybrid.  Kind of like how Superman is just a regular guy on Krypton so when you get right down to it, he has no special powers, he’s just not human.  Which obviously doesn’t help out my argument at all.  Anyway, Blade is a very good movie that more or less inspired Marvel to make lots and lots of superhero movies.  Which again does not help out my argument but it’s still a great movie.

Men in Black – sometimes regular people get put in situations that call for a superhero.  And either they get eaten by a giant bug or they get creative.  Or both.  Men in Black is a ton of fun and so tongue-in-cheek it hurts (in a good way).  This is your chance to see Will Smith, in his prime, in his best role (with sincere apologies to Mike Lowry), and the pairing of Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones is as good as it gets.  The two of them make it up as they go along and somehow make it work, saving the world along the way.  The best part is K’s attitude about it all: the world is always in danger, so keep doing your job but make sure to keep it down so we can go about our business.  Thanks, Men in Black, for keeping Earth safe.

Ghost World – sometimes I enjoy movies that don’t have a hint of superhero and have no explosions or car chases.  It’s rare but it happens, and Ghost World is one such movie.  It’s a strange movie, no doubt about it, but it’s strange in the right ways.  It reminds me a little of Mad Max: Fury Road in that regard. Both take us to worlds that are different than ours that have their own logic, and that we come to understand as we meander through them with our leads.  Both draw us in right from the start, make us want to keep watching and see this through to the end, and while the endings serve up good payoffs, in both movies the journey is its own reward.

Jay: Sean, wow. Just fucking wow. Mad Max? Really? You’re either really brilliant, or…you know, you’re really brilliant. Well done sir.

Matt

I love comics. It may have started with Batman for me but, as much as I love badass costumes and bone-crunching violence, I’;m always so proud of them when they aim higher. This week we pay tribute to graphic novel adaptations that helped show the world what the medium can really accomplish without relying on comic book logic.

Regardless of its subject, the key to any good comic book is to create a world of its own that is both distinctive and relatable. I thought of this in the shower this mroning and was surprised to Ghost Worldread that Sean had a similar thought about Ghost World (2001), a movie that I’ve been dying to mention for months now. There’s nothing remotely supernatural about Ghost World but it seems to exist in its own universe. Strange, given how many characters I can recognize from my own life. Both a little surreal and painfully real, this movie is filled with uncomfortable moments that my friend and I used to cringe over and then immediately rewind and watch again.

Comics can address politics in the real world too. In Persepolis (2007) , a young girl grows up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran anPersepolisd, like Enid in Ghost World, finds solace in punk music as everything around her seems to be changing. Apart from the black and white animation and the fact that I was completely blown away by it, that’s about all I cacn remember. I so wanted to rewatch it this week but wasn’t able to track it down in time for Thursday.

blue is the warmest colorBlue is the Warmest Color (2013), on the other hand, is fresh in my mind and will likely remain so for some time. I finally got around to watching it last night and was delighted- and surprised- to learn that it was based on a graphic novel so that I would have an excuse to check it out. I can’t picture this story as a comic at all and honestly have no idea what the source material could have looked like. I will probably have to check it out. All I know is that the story is simple, even if the feelings aren’t. What I found most impressive about this film was that, even though it is prepared to address homophoibia and how scary it can be to come out, this is really a story about how exciting it is to find love and how painful it is to watch it fade away and eventually burn out. The fact that they’re gay is almost incidental.

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30 thoughts on “Movies Based on Graphic Novels\Comics (No Superheroes, Sean!)

  1. mattasshole

    Jay, I’m intrigued by your first pick and will have to seek it out. I also intend to check out Oldboy but it probably won’t be nearly as much fun to watch as it was to listen to you suffer through it. And Snowpiercer? Brilliant. I didn’t even realize it was a graphic novel.

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  2. mattasshole

    And SeanYou know I haven’t seen Blade? Wesley Snipes really turned me off of that when it came out. But Men in Black is just so good. I especially- like you- love how all this is supposed to be going on right under our noses.
    GHOST WORLD!!!! How is Thora Birch not a bigger star?

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  3. joelnox

    I’ve only seen Men in Black, which was a bit of fun silliness and Ghost World which left me cold. Snowpiercer and Blue is the Warmest Color are both on my watchlist though.

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    1. mattasshole

      Two movies that couldn’t be more different from each other but both are highly recommend. Word to the wise, Blue is like three hours long. I was completely unprepared for that when I sat down to watch it.

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  4. Myerla

    I’m seeing a lot of continuity (not like that’s a bad thing) with Snowpiercer, Ghost World and Blue is the Warmest Colour popping up a lot. Surprised it was six blogs before I saw MIB, love the first one, the second two not so much.

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      1. mattasshole

        I feel like the pool of elligible films was smaller this week. Not that I minded because there are so many that I love. I thought we’d see more American Splendor and A History of Vioelcen.

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  5. Irene McKenna

    Great list — there are many here that I had no idea were based on graphic novels. I am so glad to see Persepolis on your list!

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    1. mattasshole

      Thanks, we’re able to cover a lot of ground since there are three of us. The only reason I know that Blue is the Warmest Color was based on a graphic novel was I happened to look it up last would count as a German language pick.

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    2. Jay

      It’s true, it’s easy to forget the source material, and sometimes we don’t hear about it at all. Strange to leave it out of the marketing, but it seems to happen fairly often.

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    1. Jay

      It’s nearly impossible not to pick Ghost World. It’s a great movie, but from the sounds of it, it’s got nostalgia wrapped into it for a lot of us!

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  6. Wendell

    I’ve never seen Ghost World. Since that one is popping up everywhere today, I guess I have to. Never even heard of Wrinkles, but man does that look interesting. I have seen everything else and it’s all pretty good with one exception. It pains me to say this because it’s done by my favorite director, but Spike’s Oldboy, just, no. It does not get the job done. I might feel different if the near three hour director’s cut ever sees the light of day. For now, the original is the only way to go. Lol at Sean’s arguments in favor of Blade not being a superhero. Since I’m a fellow rule-breaker, it works for me.

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  7. Jordan Dodd

    Some interesting choices. I have been meaning to watch Wrinkles, I read about it and it looks really interesting.

    And Blade is awesome. Killer soundtrack too, I will always love that flick, have done since I was ten.

    Snowpiercer is mental, I love it, didn’t know it was based on a graphic novel.

    Great post guys!

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    1. Jay

      If you re-watch Snowpiercer, I think you’ll see some of the graphic influences. I thought they did a great job making it look as cool as it does in the novel, especially in the scenes where there’s little light, gosh, those are bonkers.

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  8. Bubbawheat

    Wow, I’m only on the third entry and already have a second film I hadn’t heard of before. I will definitely have to check out Wrinkles, I’ll probably pair it up with When the Wind Blows (another animated film based on a graphic novel about old people that I’ve never seen). I love how Sean managed to cheat and throw in a movie with a character who was an Avenger at one point in time I do believe, but I agree that it’s more of a horror/action film than a superhero film especially if you know nothing about the Marvel character.

    Persepolis is also a great choice that I almost wanted to include in my list. I find it interesting that where most superhero films are looked at as lower quality, but there’s so many films based on comics that are very high quality and looked on with critical praise.

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    1. Jay

      Haha, exactly, busted, we used Sin City on another week? And yes, Persepolis is exactly the kind of movie that stands up to re-watches.

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  9. StephLove

    I’m kind of depressed to see that Blue is the Warmest Color was released two years ago. Wanted to see it and never did, but I thought it was more recent.

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