Top List Thursdays – 10 Comic Books that should be made into movies

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It’s official: Hollywood loves comics. And while both Marvel and DC currently have plenty of films in the pipeline, there are still a huge number of other comics that would also be perfect for some cinematic glory. Today, I’m finally going to put all the time and money I spend every month on comics to good use (Ha! Take that, mom!) by listing 10 of these titles.

From cape and tights superheroics to touching drama to just plain weird stuff, I’m looking at them all, with my only criteria being that the chosen comic title should not already be in some form of development.

DMZ

Brian Wood’s alternate reality socio-political tale about a second civil war between the US government and a coalition of Middle America militia, would be just about perfect as a hard-hitting war drama. Starring Matty Roth as a young photojournalist who has been granted the special privilege of entry into the war ravaged demilitarized zone that once was Manhattan island, it examines some strong themes of individual freedoms, civil liberties, military discipline and governmental control as Matty tries to befriend and document the struggles of the innocent refugees stuck in the middle of this conflict in the ruins of New York City, while not antagonizing the two sides watching them all through the crosshairs of their rifles and who both want to use him as a means of propaganda for their individual causes.

A big screen adaptation may be a bit controversial though, with it’s unflinching criticism of American politics, but asking the hard questions is exactly what these types of war dramas are known for.

Nextwave

I honestly cannot see this working as anything other than an animated movie, as Warren Ellis’ crazy tale, that sees some of Marvel’s lesser known C- and D-list heroes being brought together by H.A.T.E. – the absurd sister organization of S.H.I.E.L.D – to fight the terrorist organization U.W.M.D , has so many flipped out moments that a live action version would be almost unfilmable. But an animated version could see some of the most hilarious and twisted visions of the Marvel universe that Ellis has ever thought up, brought to life inside a rip-roaring espionage/superhero tale.

Besides, wouldn’t you want to see a movie that already has a theme song this brilliant.

Old Man Logan

Yes, I know, this is a Wolverine story, and we’ve already had 4 movies featuring the hairy canuck (well 5, if you count that incredible cameo in X-Men: First Class) with another on the way. But this is different. This is not the Wolverine you know. Set 50 years in the future, Mark Millar’s tale tells of an America where the villains finally all banded together and took over the country, splitting it up amongst themselves. Most of the heroes are dead, captured or have been turned into weapons for the villains.

And into this landscape steps Logan, a failed hero turned family man whose extreme pacifist nature has him bullied and pushed around by everybody, including his landlords, the hillbilly grandchildren of the Hulk. When his farm is threatened due him not being able to pay the rent, Logan reluctantly takes on a seemingly simple job to escort a blind Hawkeye across the country to deliver a package. But Logan is a man with a dark secret, whose vow of non-violence will be put to the test more than ever before on this roadtrip.

The fact that the film rights to the various characters who pop up in this story are owned by different studios, means that it’s pretty unlikely that a film version of Old Man Logan will ever come to fruition. This is undoubtedly a massive shame as this is a tragic story, steeped in visceral emotion that would make it perfect for a feature film.

Top 10

Whereas some comics such Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers or Kurt Busiek’s Marvels looks at how ordinary people can exist in a world where some superheroes exist, Alan Moore’s Top 10 takes the extreme opposite viewpoint as it follows a special group of police in the city of Neopolis, where every single person, irrespective of age, gender or social standing has superpowers and a costume, even right down to the pets.

Playing out like some kind of Twilight Zone episode of Hill Street Blues (which Moore has listed as a strong influence), the tales of the Neopolis 10th Precint Police Department examines some pretty heady social issues like bigotry and xenophobia (in this case against robots or people whose powers have given them monstrous appearances), but wraps it all up in the type of widescreen superheroics that make for perfect summer blockbusters.

And with all the opportunities for visual gags that the premise presents (and the fact that so much of Moore’s other work has already received the big screen treatment), I’m surprised that it hasn’t been optioned yet.

I Kill Giants

There have been very few comics over the last couple of years that affected me quite as heavily as Joe Casey’s I Kill Giants did. Part heart-breaking coming of age tale, part fantasy it tells the story of Barbara, a funny-hat wearing, bullied and nearly friendless fifth grader who loves playing tabletop RPG games. But Barbara’s social outcast status doesn’t bother her that much though, because she knows that she has a bigger destiny: Armed with a massive Norse hammer and a magic bag, she is the only thing that stands in the way of her hometown and an invasion of magical giants which only she can see.

But are these giants real, or are they merely the imaginary creations of a young girl who is trying to escape into a fantasy world instead of facing a dark reality.

This is the type of kooky, visually arresting and emotionally driven tale that Spike Jonze produces so amazingly, and if this were made into a movie, I can guarantee you that there won’t be a dry eye in the cinema.

Pride of Baghdad

Speaking of movies that will make you cry, Brian K Vaughn’s Pride of Baghdad would undoubtedly work best as an animated feature, but this is no lighthearted kiddies romp. I’ve seen fully grown adults bawl their eyes out at this story, and for very good reason.

Based on real events, it is a fictionalized account of four African lions who escaped from the Baghdad Zoo after it was bombed by American forces in 2003. Vaughn tells the story from the viewpoint of the lions themselves, giving them very distinct human voices and personalities, but nonetheless maintaining their innocent animal sensibilities as they get exposed to the horrors of warfare for the first time.

It is a heart rending drama which would look simply beautiful and work so effectively as a traditionally drawn 2D animated film. Niko Henrichon’s artwork already looks like it was lifted straight from the animation table, so I have no idea why nobody has thought to adapt this yet.

Girls

Let’s face it. Us guys, we’re easy. If there’s a hot naked girl in a movie, most of us will check it out no matter how bad the rest of the movie is *COUGH*Piranha 3D*COUGH*. Now how about an army of identical hot naked girls who just want to have sex with all the guys they encounter? Yeah, you’re buying your ticket already, aren’t ya?

Luckily though, hot naked sex-crazy girls are not the only thing that makes the Luna Brothers’s Girls such a worthy choice for cinematic adaptation. You see, this is actually one incredibly creepy and tense science-fiction tale set in the tiny community of Pennystown who wake up one morning to find their entire town cut off from the outside world due to an impenetrable dome. Oh and those hot girls? Alien invaders who are using our sexual weakness against us, as they turn us into nothing but breeding stock for their spawn. Not so sexy anymore, is it?

What it was though, was one of the best comics Image put out of the last few years, as it gave us a chilling story, thread through with some interesting questions being asked of gender relations and sexual dependency. Cast a CGI cloned Megan Fox in the roles of the Girls, and you have an 100% assured box office smash hit.

Invincible

Mark Grayson was just an ordinary teenager who discovers that not only is his father secretly Omni-Man, a member of the Viltrumite alien race and the most powerful hero on Earth, but that Mark has inherited his father’s abilities too. Soon he’s donning a costume himself, trying to be a hero while also juggling your normal teenage stuff like girlfriends and high school. And then things take a very, VERY violent turn, and suddenly this is no longer you normal teenage superhero story. Instead it then becomes this sprawling epic of a boy who becomes the only one who can stand up to the most powerful threat this world has ever seen.

With all the praise that the TV adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is getting, I think it’s only a matter of time before somebody realizes that Kirkman’s first big comic hit is even more suited for an adaptation. The Kick-Ass and Wanted crowd will just eat this up, while newcomers will be given enough over-the-top violent spectacles and intense family drama to keep them riveted in their seat. Oh and did I mention, that it’s really REALLY violent.

Irredeemable

The Plutonian is the greatest hero Earth has even known. Not only is he kind, honest and a shining example of what we can all strive to be, but as the most powerful being on the planet, he is a one-man deterrent for criminals, superpowered or normal, everywhere. But the Plutonian has a secret. A secret that the world and his superhero teammates unfortunately only discover when he eventually snaps, becoming the biggest mass murderer in history as he slaughters millions of people overnight and sinks whole countries to the bottom of the ocean.

Now it’s up to his former teammates, The Paradigm, to discover exactly what turned the world’s greatest hero into its greatest villain, and they have to do it while the Plutonian uses his godlike abilities to hunt them down one by one.

As long as it’s been running, Irredeemable has been the best pure superhero comic on the stands. Mark Waid has crafted an incredible tale of intense visceral action that will only be done justice in the biggest of blockbusters. A single film will be too short to contain the entire fascinating story, as we watch The Plutonian sink further into villainy and as he’s teammates uncover more of what drove him over the edge, but a trilogy would be perfect. The story already contains a suitable 3-act structure that would be perfect to adapt.

The Immortal Iron Fist

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love classic Kung Fu films, and when those same Eastern sensibilities are blended with a modern superhero story, well there’s nothing for me to do except fall in geek-love.

Iron Fist is the costumed alter ego of billionaire industrialist Danny Rand, who after being orphaned as a child discovers the mystical city of K’un-L’un, where he is trained the by the greatest martial arts masters and eventually earns the power of the Iron Fist by defeating the magical dragon Shou-Lao the Undying. Since then he had been karate chopping his way through the Marvel universe for decades, but was never a character that I really took seriously.

That all changed in 2006, when under the guidance of Ed Brubaker, Marvel relaunched the character as the Immortal Iron Fist. Brubaker reinvented the character as being only the latest in a long line of Iron Fists who all mysteriously died at age 33 (an age which Danny is rapidly approaching), and revealed that K’un-L’un is only one of  the Seven Capital Cities of Heaven, each with their very own Immortal Weapon, such as the Bride of Nine Spiders, Fat Cobra and the Prince of Orphans, and their own brand of Kung Fu.

The first arc of the comic is just perfect for a cinematic adaptation, as Danny has to go head to head with Orson Randall, his Iron Fist predecessor who abandoned his position before he could also disappear under mysterious circumstances and intends to use the upcoming inter-city Kung Fu tournament between the Immortal Weapons for his own nefarious gain. It’s an incredible tale of badass action and epic world-building, and it just boggles my mind that nobody has thought to make a movie out of it.

Last Updated: July 12, 2012

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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