Top 10 TV and Movie Graphic Novel Adaptations of All Time
Hollywood and superheroes go hand in hand. While comic books are known to translate well on screen with their colorful imagery, a graphic novel also offers plenty of depth and dimension to fill a movie screen, too. Here are our top ten best TV and movie graphic novel adaptations.
#10 – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)
Based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s six volume “Scott Pilgrim” series, this comedy stars Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim who must battle his girlfriend Ramona’s seven exes, who are hunting him down to kill him. With mixed reviews upon its release, “Pilgrim” has gained a solid cult following over the years. The graphic novel’s black and white pages explode with color in this screen adaptation, but the action in both is fast-paced and frantic. Plus, the casting of lanky, long-limbed Cera as a Canadian martial arts superhero seems just about right.
#9 – Dredd (2012)
What do you do to top the 1995 Sylvester Stallone adaptation of the British import “Judge Dredd” co-starring Armand Asante and Rob Schneider? You make an ever better one, of course. 2012’s “Dredd” may have none of the high-voltage stars of the original adaption, but it was the movie that fans of the magazine series, comic books, and “Mega Collection” graphic novel series came to like the most. Though the film abandons the novel’s satirical elements, audiences approved of its larger-than-life dystopian world and its gut-wrenching visual effects.
#8 – Tales from the Crypt (1989–1996)
HBO is known for its critically-acclaimed original programming and “Tales from the Crypt,” in all its campy, horrific (often times explicit) glory, was a big part of the network’s cutting-edge offerings. The show culls its material from an eponymous 1950s horror anthology that kicks the raw brutality of earlier comics and pulps up a notch with otherworldly horror and humor. The graphic novel had a short lifespan –- just five years — due to conservative mores of the time, the U.S. government imposed heavy restrictions on comic books and the scope of the narratives they could tell. But 30 years later, with the aid of an animated corpse named the Crypt Keeper and groundbreaking special effects that would soon become Hollywood’s norm.
#7 – Kick-Ass (2010)
Inspired by the dreams of a teenage wannabe superhero, the graphic novel “Kick-Ass” tells the story of a powerless young loser, Dave Lizewski, who has no business fighting crime in a costume but does so anyway, gets pummeled in the process, and inspires others to take this reckless course of action until their persistence starts to generate encouraging results. Though the film adaptation got mixed reviews, and was kicked around unabashedly by its haters, fans of the graphic novel praised its dedication to the original, particularly its embrace of ultra violence. Not only did it pull no punches, but the film version also featured Nicholas Cage in a laudable performance.
#6 – From Hell (2001)
Capitalizing on Jack the Ripper’s real-life unpunished misdeeds, “From Hell” takes all the darkness from the non-fiction intrigue of this lethal legend. The film adaptation stars Johnny Depp out on the murderer’s trail with all the shadowy terror the graphic novel. Illegitimate kids, royal cover-ups, disposable prostitutes, and a dogged, junkie detective are all illustrated in cutting-edge ways for the genre.
#5 – Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)
Critics say “Batman: The Animated Series” was not adapted from any one of the iconic superhero’s graphic novels, but delving into the glossy pages of the likes of “The Dark Knight Returns,” “Death in the Family,” or “The Killing Joke,” what you see is a tectonic shift in Batman’s tone, and maybe comic books as a whole themselves. It would be hard to imagine this shift affecting the frolicking 1960s-era TV depiction starring Adam West or ’70s “Superfriends” kid-friendly version had they not come first. But by the ’90s a new tone had been set, “Batman: The Animated Series” appealed to a wide-array of fans, not just youngsters, advanced the story of Gotham’s universe, and even gave birth to original supervillian Haley Quinn who herself has now become a DC Comics staple.
#4 – 300 (2006)
Frank Miller’s blood-soaked beauty “300” retells the historic Battle of Thermopylae where, in a dramatic show of heroism, the Greeks stood strong during a Persian invasion for which they were hugely outnumbered. They fought bravely, held their ground, and returned force upon their enemy until they were eventually extinguished. In the masterful film adaptation, style and CGI took these barbarous pages to new heights — bringing all the gory and gruesome history to the big screen in captivating fashion.
#3 – Sin City (2005)
Before Frank Miller struck gold with his “300” adaption, he hit it big with the neo-noir crime thriller anthology “Sin City.” Brought to life with an all-star cast including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, and Clive Owen, “Sin City” literally painted the pages from Miller’s graphic novel onto the big screen with jaw-dropping results. Directed by screen virtuoso Robert Rodriguez (with an assist by Miller himself) this is one of the finest examples of a filmmaker who wrote an original graphic novel and transliterated it for the screen, without compromising his vision.
#2 – The Walking Dead (2010–Present)
AMC scored big time with its runaway hit “The Walking Dead”, giving fans of both the TV show and the graphic novels upon which its based, two awesome yet completely alternate universes. Watching the edge-of-your seat uprising of the un-dead week after week, year after year has proven to all of us that today’s TV programming and originality is still very much alive.
#1 – X2: X-Men United (2003)
“X2: X-Men United” is the quintessential superhero film. It chronicles mutants and their struggle for acceptance with iconic heroes sporting retractable claws, storm-summoning strength and one who can kill with a simple touch, but all this was secondary to a deeply-engrossing story line. Adapted from the graphic novel “God Loves, Man Kills,” “X2” boasts a solid story grounded by the work of live actors in a genre where superhero movies increasingly rely on computer-generated special effects and action sequences.