Book Version vs. Screen Version
Since the appearances of the first comic book in 1895,
people have tried to make them more lifelike. People in the
comic industry are bombarded with overwhelming demands from
fans who wish for better and better comics. Trying to
comply with those demands the industry started to make
motion pictures of popular comic books. Fans could now
watch their favorite characters in live action instead of
drawn on paper.
Motion pictures brought problems to the comic industry; new
superheros with colossal powers became increasingly harder
to produce. The differences between comic books and comic
book based motion pictures are staggering.
The first comic books were produced as an entertainment for
children and adult audiences. The book increased art and
story to let the reader escape into an alternate world of
adventure and superheros. Among the first was "Superman"
because the book's art was simple and fluid and the story
lines extracted ideals of invincibility. It followed quite
naturally that the first motion picture made for comic
books were "Superman," a cartoon short that was
extraordinarily accurate to the style of the comic book.
Later came a live action television show with wonderful
special effects, whose stories were vastly different from
that of the comic books.
The story of "Superman" has created many movies and
television shows. The differences, of the comic book and
the new television show "Lois and Clark The New Adventures
of Superman," range from hairstyles to super villains. In
the comic book the story line may stretch on for many
years. Motion pictures cannot handle that kind of story
without confusion of the audience.
Comic books proved a virtual story board, and narrowed the
thoughts and ideas towards the story. The fact that comic
books are laid out in a series of panels increased speed in
producing a motion picture. All motion pictures need to
have a story board layout much like the style of comic
books. (Allstetter, "Marvel Blasts into '96 With T. V. and
film Deals." 148)
There are many comic books that have been converted to
motion pictures: "Batman", "Spiderman", "X -- Men", "Wonder
Woman", "The Incredible Hulk", "The Mask", "The Crow",
"Judge Dread". These were popular comic books before being
made into motion pictures. The transition increased the
popularity for many of these books. Also there are many
potion pictures that have been made into comic books: "Star
Trek", "The Bionic Woman", "The Six-Million Dollar Man",
"Star Wars", "Beauty and the Beast". These did not
necessarily gain popularity from being made into comic
books, but it did not hurt their status.
Movies like "Batman" soared in popularity because of an
already established audience. The "Batman" motion pictures
set a standard for other films to follow. With a gothic
look, "Batman" brought comic book based motion pictures a
dark outlook to the world of superheros. This dark outlook
brought a new side to the superhero. It influenced how
comic books were written and drawn. (Allstetter, "Marvel
Blasts into '96 With T. V. and film Deals." 148)
The comic book "Generation -- X" recently graduated into a
live action motion picture. The differences in story and
characters, are immense. The comic book offers monthly
installments of an ongoing story. The characters in
Marvel's "Generation -- X" were changed for the motion
picture. The characters White Witch, Banshee, Mondo, and
Skin all remained the same. Synch, Chamber, and Husk were
bluntly left out. Jubilee and "M" were changed only
slightly but mostly remained the same. Two new characters
were added; Re-frax and Buff. The major story was changed
to allow the viewer to follow the story without the
background information on the characters. The comic book
tells of the original story and characters (Humma,
Generation -- X. Issue 1 1-32). It also relates the basic
principals before graduating to motion picture status.
(Lee, "Generation -- X")
Unlike other comic book based motion pictures, "Generation
-- X" has surpassed many in special effects. Although the
story and characters were changed, the special effects were
a milestone that was not only crossed but broken. Comic
book based motion pictures have had trouble in recreating
the special powers of the characters. At best most
recreations were poor and costly to produce, but with the
computer revolution special effects have become greatly
superior in the last ten to fifteen years. Marvel spent
four million dollars in the production of "Generation --
X." Comic books are cheaper to produce and the special
powers of the characters are drawn. Comic books allow for a
more complex and interact story with wonderful art as well.
(Allstetter, "Trailer Park." 158)
In an interview with a comic book store employee, James
Goodnight, I learned of opinions toward the comic book
industry's attempts at making motion pictures. Mr.
Goodnight expressed his opinion toward Marvel's
"Generation-X." by saying that he was very impressed with
the way the comic book was handled. He was displeased with
the transition to the motion picture because he felt that
Marvel should have kept the characters the same instead of
altering them. "The overall handling of the production was
wonderful, except for the change in characters."
(Goodnight, Comic Book Store Employee.)
In production of motion pictures an Executive license is
given to the producer to make production much easier. An
Executive license "allows changes in story and characters
by the producer to simplify the story for an audience that
does not read the original comic book" (Allstetter, "Marvel
Blasts into '96 With T. V. and film Deals." 148). The
changing of the original comic book to the motion picture
allows a person who knows nothing about the comic book
story to enjoy the motion picture.
Of all the comic book based motion pictures some are better
than others. Comic books allow for a more interactive
story. Motion pictures deviate from the original story and
characters to tell a story in the allotted amount of time.
Comic books are not better than comic book based motion
pictures, but there are major differences. Neither one is
better than the other; both have their flaws and their
ornaments. Often people judge comic books as "kid stuff"
not realizing that they themselves have enjoyed motion
pictures based on comic books. In the long run, it all
comes down to what the audiences like and dislike. It is
true, I guess, that it is all "...in the eyes of the
Allstetter, Rob. "Marvel Blasts into '96 with T. V. and
Film Deals." Wizard:Guide to the Comics Issue 56. Wizard
Allstetter, Rob. "Trailer Park." Wizard: Guide to the
Comics Issue 53. Wizard Press, 1996.
Goodnight, James. Comic Book Store Employee. April 8, 1996.
Humma, Larry. Generation -- X Issue 1. Marvel Entertainment
Lee, Stan. Generation -- X. February 20, 1996 Marvel Films,
New world Entertainment, aired on Fox.