We’ve all seen so many comic to film adaptations bomb, but what if we took an original idea that was a film FIRST which ultimately turned out to be garbage – and turned that disaster into an amazing comic series instead? Flipping the switch people – let’s do this.
Check out my top 10 picks for critical misses that had either amazing ideas and or wonderful established universes – but they all… fumbled as movies.
#10. Jupiter Ascending
2015 – Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Synopsis: Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under signs that predicted future greatness, but her reality as a woman consists of cleaning other people’s houses and endless bad breaks. Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered hunter, arrives on Earth to locate her, making Jupiter finally aware of the great destiny that awaits her: Jupiter’s genetic signature marks her as the next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos.
I’m starting to wonder at this point if the Wachowski’s would be better off entirely writing graphic novels because their films/TV shows are incredibly original, gorgeous and those two are already influenced tremendously by sci-fi works like Akira. Jupiter Ascending failed as a movie for one reason – the cheese. Over-the-top performances and odd-pacing ruined a potential new science fiction mega-franchise. The world that was created here however is stunning and there was so much thought put into the characters – making this a comic would be a no-brainer.
What if – Jupiter Ascending was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Warren Ellis
- Dream Artist – Geof Darrow
#9. Wild Wild West
1999 – Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Synopsis: When President Ulysses S. Grant (Kevin Kline) learns that diabolical inventor Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) is planning to assassinate him, he orders Civil War hero James West (Will Smith) and U.S. Marshal Artemus Gordon (also Kline) to arrest him. West’s trigger-happy personality doesn’t always mesh well with that of the thoughtful Gordon, but they manage to work together. And with the help of a mysterious stranger (Salma Hayek), West and Gordon close in on Loveless.
Kenneth Branagh with mechanical spider legs, riding in a giant robot spider, in an alternate version of US history where steampunk is rampant. The idea for this film is wonderful and loaded with all kinds of potential and wacky imagery. I’ve always loved the idea of sci-fi elements combined with the Wild West but it doesn’t work out for the most part. Cowboys vs Aliens (didn’t work), Jonah Hex (didn’t work) – how about we back this shit up and do it the other way around and keep Wild Wild West in graphic novel format instead? PS: One of the greatest sci-fi westerns of all time is the comic series East of West from writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Nick Dragotta.
What if – Wild Wild West was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Jeff Lemire
- Dream Artist – Greg Capullo
#8. Van Helsing
2004 – Director: Stephen Sommers
Synopsis: Famed monster slayer Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is dispatched to Transylvania to assist the last of the Valerious bloodline in defeating Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) reveals that Dracula has formed an unholy alliance with Dr. Frankenstein’s monster (Shuler Hensley) and is hell-bent on exacting a centuries-old curse on her family. Together Anna and Van Helsing set out to destroy their common enemy, but uncover some unsettling secrets along the way.
Everyone loves a cool monster-mashup and Van Helsing gave us all the famous Universal movie monsters in one flick – Frankenstein, Dracula, werewolves – and they made Wolverine kill them all. Gothic action horror is a guilty pleasure of mine (Love that Underworld series) but the hastiness of injecting one film with so many zany elements makes it stumble, repeatedly…. The special effects were cartoonish as well and I would love to see those creatures painted instead on the pages of a book I can comfortably read month to month – arc to arc, with each one focusing on a different famous villain.
What if – Van Helsing was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Eric Powell
- Dream Artist – Eric Powell
#7. Ghosts of Mars
2001 – Director: John Carpenter
Synopsis: Long inhabited by human settlers, the Red Planet has become the manifest destiny of an over-populated Earth. Nearly 640,000 people now live and work all over Mars, mining the planet for its abundant natural resources. But one of those mining operations has uncovered a deadly mother lode: a long-dormant Martian civilization whose warriors are systematically taking over the bodies of human intruders.
John Carpenter’s weird ass dark sci-fi action horror film Ghosts of Mars didn’t work as a movie because well…. It was too strange. Even with that badass cast which featured not only Jason Statham but motherfucking Ice Cube, it still didn’t hook in casual movie-fans because this thing went to some unusually grim places. Ghosts, aliens, severed heads, villains who look like members of metal band Dimmu Borgir – you name it – Ghosts of Mars was destined to be a comic and not a flick that nobody understood.
What if – Ghosts of Mars was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Donny Cates
- Dream Artist – Lewis Larosa
#6. After Earth
2013 – Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Synopsis: People were forced to leave Earth a millennium ago to establish a new home on Nova Prime. Now, Gen. Cypher Raige (Will Smith) heads Nova Prime’s most-prominent family. Cypher’s teenage son, Kitai (Jaden Smith), feels enormous pressure to follow in his father’s legendary footsteps — which strains their relationship. Cypher and Kitai set out on a trip to mend their bond, but when their craft crashes on Earth’s hostile surface, each must trust the other greatly — or perish.
I can’t stand M. Night’s movies. Never really got into them – even with the big ‘twist’ gimmick that he injected into his scripts. That being said he does have a knack for making his movies pretty – and I think the concept for After Earth as a post apocalyptic sci-fi comic series is ripe for exploration – you can get rid of that annoying Jaden Smith kid and just draw in someone less pretentious. The strange animals, how Earth has changed so much into the future — you could really get into some intriguing territory with this comic.
What if – After Earth was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Rick Remender
- Dream Artist – Fiona Staples
#5. Gods of Egypt
2016 – Director: Alex Proyas
Synopsis: The survival of mankind hangs in the balance when Set (Gerard Butler), the merciless god of darkness, usurps Egypt’s throne and plunges the prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. Hoping to save the world and rescue his true love, a defiant mortal named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) forms an unlikely alliance with the powerful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Their battle against Set and his henchmen takes them into the afterlife and across the heavens for an epic confrontation.
Gods of Egypt is the movie that prompted me to write this entire editorial. Gorgeous set pieces and costumes, magical creatures and a thrilling world that appeared to have all been very well thought out. Then we get to the performances. Brutal. I still think this type of story would have been better served in a graphic novel or series format – it works well. There have NOT been too many stylistic period actioners that have done well aside from 300 and I’m confused why they keep trying to make more at this point.
What if – Gods of Egypt was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Gail Simone
- Dream Artist – Mico Suayan
#4. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
2013 – Director: Tommy Wirkola
Synopsis: Fifteen years after Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) defeated the wicked witch who planned to have them for her dinner, the siblings have come of age as skilled bounty hunters. Hell-bent on retribution, they have dedicated their lives to hunting down and destroying every witch still lurking in the dark forests of their homeland. As the notorious blood moon approaches, the siblings face a great evil — one that could hold the secret to their terrifying past.
I would buy the shit out of a series that has a grown up Hansel and Gretel hunting trolls, witches and other frightening creatures out in the magical woods. You could blend so many delicious story elements and genres into this kind of comic including horror, black comedy and really dig deep into all kinds of mythology straight out of the Brothers Grimm library. The movie failed because it tried to knock off other titles like Resident Evil and Underworld – when it should have strayed away from the action and ramped up the Tim Burton influences.
What if – Hansel and Gretal was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Marguerite Bennett
- Dream Artist – Andrea Sorrentino
#3. Sucker Punch
2011 – Director: Zack Snyder
Synopsis: Locked away, a young woman named Babydoll (Emily Browning) retreats to a fantasy world where she is free to go wherever her mind takes her. Determined to fight for real freedom, she finds four women — Rocket, Blondie, Amber and Sweet Pea — to join together to escape the terrible fate that awaits them. With a virtual arsenal at their disposal, the allies battle everything from samurais to serpents, while trying to decide what price they will pay for survival.
Zack Snyder has such an eye when it comes to the visual aesthetics in his films, whether it be Watchmen, Man of Steel or the ill-fated Sucker Punch (which to be honest, I didn’t mind, but I’ve only seen it once – in theater). The concept is simple, but it’s an excuse to really put the pedal to the medal in terms of psychedelia. Aka – perfect for a comic book series which sees mental institution patients battle for their minds in insane worlds that don’t really exist… Or do they?
What if – Sucker Punch was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Gerard Way
- Dream Artist – Riley Rossmo
1995 – Directors: Kevin Costner, Kevin Reynolds
Synopsis: After the melting of the polar ice caps, most of the globe is underwater. Some humans have survived, and even fewer still, notably the Mariner (Kevin Costner), have adapted to the ocean by developing gills. A loner by nature, the Mariner reluctantly befriends Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and her young companion, Enola (Tina Majorino), as they escape from a hostile artificial island. Soon the sinister Smokers are pursuing them in the belief that Enola holds the key to finding the mythical Dryland.
Hailed as one of the biggest box office bombs and critical failures ever – Waterworld was actually a pretty damn interesting and fun idea. Mad Max on water skiis – pirates – all kinds of crazy cool excuses to have battles on the open seas. Kevin Costner was ahead of the times when he made this post apocalyptic flick – too far ahead. I bet that if they made this movie today (and the older one didn’t exist) – people would eat it up. Global warming right? You know – all that fun shit that Leonardio DiCaprio is trying to stop head on in his own boat.
What if – Water World was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Eliot Rahal
- Dream Artist – Sean Gordon Murphy
#1. The Purge
2013 – Director: James DeMonaco
Synopsis: In an America ravaged by crime and overcrowded prisons, the government sanctions an annual 12-hour period during which all criminal activity — including murder — is legal. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) and his family face the ultimate test when an intruder drags the vicious outside world into their home. James, Mary (Lena Headey) and their two children struggle to survive the night while trying not to turn into monsters like the ones they are striving to avoid.
The Purge has become a very successful horror movie franchise, thanks in part to the two ‘action-centric’ sequels which trumped the first flick by leaps and bounds thanks in part to an incredibly original idea. That amazing light-bulb moment however resulted in a very lackluster first film that just didn’t deliver on it’s promises of chaos. One night a year – the shit hits the fan. My god – could you imagine a comic series that really dives into this? The possibilities are endlessly disturbing, which is precisely why I think Garth Ennis (Crossed, Preacher) and Ryan Ottley (Invincible, Grizzly Shark) would be a match made in heaven because only Ottley could draw such horrible things (and in outrageous fashion) that Ennis conjures from his twisted mind.
What if – The Purge was a comic….
- Dream Writer – Garth Ennis
- Dream Artist – Ryan Ottley