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5 Comic Book-to-Film Adaptations We’ll Never See (But Probably Should)

With all of the films and TV shows coming out lately that are based (in whole or in part) on comic books or graphic novels, I thought I’d jump in on the act and pitch my own ideas to Hollywood and TV…hood (or TVland…I don’t know…) for some comic book-to-film projects they need to work on.  And, yes, you might not have heard of some of these comics, but that doesn’t mean they’re not awesome ideas!  So listen up HollyTVwoodland (ok, that sounds even worse), because your next 5 “big things” are here!


The Punisher: Yes, yes, Marvel has made the story of Frank Castle, a Vietnam-vet turned vigilante, into a film not once, but three times.  But here’s the news: they all sucked.  Yeah, even the last one (which was BETTER, but got way too campy and over-the-top to be taken at all seriously).  So, we’re due for another version, a decent version.


The trouble is, The Punisher is meant to be gritty and serious, but not taken too far.  Some of the best periods in the comics (my favorites are Punisher War Journal issues 1-19, and Punisher War Zone issues 1-11) depended a lot on recurring characters and slow-building story arcs, which is why I think, like Daredevil, The Punisher would benefit greatly from having a TV series adaptation rather than a film.  Part of the fun of The Punisher was seeing what sorts of criminals he’d go up against next: sometimes it was the mob, sometimes it was drug gangs, sometimes it was super-villains, sometimes it was ninjas.

I honestly think Henry Caville would make a great Punisher, with Paul Giovanni as Microchip…and since we’ll be in the confines of the Marvel Universe, we might as well throw in guest spots by Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Scarlett Johanssen as Black Widow and Vincent D’Onfrio as Kingpin, since they all had guest stops in the comic series.  And let’s not forget Spider-Man (where Punisher actually got his start).


WildC.A.T.s: Wild C.A.T.s (Covert Action Teams) was one of my favorite new comics from the 90s, an exciting, well-written knock-off of both the X-Men and the Avengers with heavy doses of “V” and “Independence Day” thrown in for good measure.  An age old conflict between two alien races has come to Earth, but both races try to maintain a low profile by inserting themselves into positions of power among our populace in order use our resources in their ongoing battle.  The WildC.A.T.s, formed by a diminutive billionaire named Jacob Marlowe (himself an alien, though he has no knowledge of his past), is a team of super-hero alien descendants, a highly trained ninja and her protege (who doubled as the “Han Solo” of the group), and a studly android, and together they fight to keep humanity safe as the extra-terrestrial conflict escalates.


WildC.A.T.s suffered from inconsistency – when the series started off, it was dynamite, but like all Image titles it slowly started to decline as the creator’s interests turned to other projects.  Still, WildC.A.T.s would make a terrific film/series of films, sort of like a super-hero movie meets a Bond film meets “War of the Worlds”.


The Savage Dragon: The premise to this comic (another Image title) sounds ridiculous: green-skinned guy with a fin on his head wakes up in a field and gets recruited to fight crime as a member of the Chicago PD.  The weird thing is, it works.  Erik Larson’s masterfully gritty, funny, violent and compelling series never takes itself too seriously, nor does it ever get too corny…at times it can get quite dark, but everything is so over-the-top you’re always reminded that ultimately it’s all meant to be good (albeit dirty) fun.


The stories of how Dragon goes up against the super-villian gangs and mafia of Chicago, gets whisked off to another universe, has his memory replaced with that of his old personality, and tromps through alternate dimensions offer some of the most diverse and delightfully original storytelling I’ve ever seen in a comicbook, and the character of Dragon is thoroughly enjoyable (even if you sometimes want to smack him).  The Savage Dragon would work as a short TV series (especially the early story lines about him going against the super-villains of Chicago…the first 20 or so issues of the comic are superb), with possible additional series to follow his more bizarre battles against aliens and the denizens of other dimensions.  Start simple, you know.


Deathblow: Michael Cray was a former Navy SEAL who discovered he had an inoperable brain tumor.  Hoping to do some good before he died, Cray joined forces with a secret society called the Order of the Cross to combat an evil cult called the Black Angel.  Though the series was short-lived, Deathblow’s story was dark and riveting; I’ve rarely read a comic book with such an impending sense of doom on every page (the intentionally grainy greyscale artwork helped).  This would make one hell of a fine dark action film or a mini-series on a channel that didn’t mind showing a lot of gore (AMC or HBO, you’re up).


I actually think Dwayne Johnson would make a good Deathblow.  He could stand to do some dark work to wash all of that Fast & Furious taste out of his mouth…


The Thunderbolts: On the surface, The Thunderbolts looks like another Avengers clone, which made sense since the team was essentially filling the void left by the Avengers in the wake of the Onslaught story line.  The characters were all new, but their costumes, names and personalities seemed throwbacks to the “Golden Age” Avengers of the 1960s.


SPOILER ALERT: The Thunderbolts were not what they seemed, and a major revelation at the end of the very first issue has got to be one of the coolest “HOLY SHIT!” moments in recent comic book history.  What followed was a fascinating dark comic that explored themes of redemption and forgiveness, as well as bringing entirely new dimensions to a bunch of characters we thought we knew well but that turned out to have more depth than we ever through possible.

Making a film or television version of The Thunderbolts would be difficult, but not impossible, and would require a lot of pre-planning on the studio’s part (but, to their credit, Marvel has done a pretty good job of that so far).


What comics would you like to see made into TV shows/films?  Think it’ll ever happen?

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