Staging the Comic: Movies you might not have known were comics first


The comic book. It seems to be the new fad for Hollywood movie makers to use to make a quick buck, but this trend has much longer roots than you would suspect. The comic is the perfect medium for adaption to the Hollywood blockbuster, because the foundation of all movie scenes is the storyboard. Storyboards are arranged in order of action from left to right. They show graphic depictions of action and dialogue, allowing the director have an overview of the entire scene and a detailed depiction of the flow of action. Every comic book fan knows that this is the format that almost all comic books use in their layouts, so it is no wonder that the next big thing has become turning comics into movies.  Let’s look at some of the movies that you may not know once graced the pages of some of the most popular comic books of the last 15 years.

Red – 2010

The comic was written by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, and published by the DC Comics. The movie boasts an all-star cast including Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker, Helen Mirren and Karl Urban.  Red, in both the comic and the movie stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous. This movie combines humour and a thoughtful examination of lives not lived, aging – and exploding stuffed animals.

Road to Perdition –  2002

Tom Hanks may have started out as a comedian, and if Saving Private Ryan did not cement him as one of the greatest dramatic and sympathetic actors too grace the silver screen in the last decade, Road to Perdition certainly shows his range. Taking place during the Great Depression, the story follows a mob enforcer and his son as they seek vengeance against a mobster who murdered the rest of their family.

Ghost World – 2001

Staring two now well-known acting veterans Thora Birch as Enid, and Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca, the story follows them as high school outcasts. Although the film did not do well at the box office, it has resonated throughout the years to become a cult film smash.

Art School Confidential – 2006

A twisted tale of love and art. As the great Stan Lee says: ‘Nuff said.

The Losers – 2010

A group of black ops military men must prove their innocence after a botch mission. Staring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana and Chris Evans. The movie was often compared to the remake of the A-Team.

Men in Black – 1997

That’s right- it was a Vertigo Comic first. J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) protect earth from the scum of the universe, all the while looking great in their Ray-Bans. Men-in-Black is a well-known myth among Ufologists, these men are known to appear right after sightings and act strangely, often attempting to convince UFO witnesses they saw nothing more than swamp-gas with their fancy mind erasing devices.

Alien vs. Predator – 2004

While hints of the Alien and Predator universe where hinted at in the 2nd Predator film in 1990, this movie adaptation, though widely rumoured since the early 1990s tried to bring together 2 of the most deadly science fiction creatures we have seen. The comic was first published to great acclaim in 1989, taking it 15 years to reach the big-screen.

30 Days of Night – 2007

Taking place in Barrow, Alaska, which is far enough north that during the winter the sun does not rise for 30 days. In the series, vampires, being vulnerable to sunlight, take advantage of the prolonged darkness to feast upon the town’s inhabitants. The comic was release in 2002, the movie in 2007, with a sequel reported to be in the works.

History of Violence – 2005

It follows the life of a Michigan shop owner who gains national notoriety for protecting his own shop and his employees. This leads to New York City mobsters recognizing him as a man who had in the past robbed and killed another mobster. 2005 the graphic novel was adapted into a film by David Cronenberg, and starring Viggo Mortensen.

Constantine – 2005 (Comic: Hellblazer)

Originally introduced in the pages of Swamp Thing (who also made a movie debut in 1982). The comic has been published as a standalone since 1988. The 2005 movie version stared Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, as the part detective part mystic. The movie’s title was changed to avoid confusion with Clive Baker’s Hellraiser series.