The Ninjabot

5 More Comic Book Movies You Never Knew Were Comic Books

Posted on September 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm by Jeff Mueller

A few weeks back we laid out the Top Five Comic Book Movies You Never Knew Were Comic Books (if you haven’t read it yet, take a look.. slacker!) and there was some good discussion and back and forth in the comments and on Twitter on the subject.  So I was listening to the latest Geek Legacy podcast (Episode #12) and the subject of Viggo Mortensen, some of his films, and his rumored inclusion as Dr. Strange in the next Thor movie (shot down by Marvel in case you were wondering) came up and it got me to thinking that there were some more movies that deserve their moment of fame, immortalized in a Top 5 list by yours truly! So let’s get right to it…

A History of Violence

History of ViolenceA History of Violence” is actually the movie that prompted revisiting this subject so soon. During the discussion of Mr Mortensen’s movies this one featured prominently and I was ashamed that no-one mentioned its roots as a graphic novel turned movie. This film, directed by David Cronenberg, is a loose adaption (which was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 78th Academy Awards) of a 1997 graphic novel by John Wagner. While the story starts out in a very similar fashion as the book, it slowly parts ways from the source material as the movie moves on.  Cronenberg makes it his own and, too be honest, tells a much more compelling story on the big screen. The uncertainty in the film is laid out pretty straight-forward in the graphic novel, and adds a psychological thriller-esque vibe to the proceedings. This is one of those times (Much like the movie “RED” in the last article) where there is such a difference in the material and plot that you can take them both in and not feel as though you are just watching/reading the same story; rather you get vastly differing takes on a very interesting and compelling plot.

30 Days of Night

30 Days of NightThis is a movie brought up in the comments of the last article; a comment that had me smacking my head for not thinking of including it the first go round! “30 Days of Night” is a brutal vampire story, put to page by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith in a three part mini-series. The story revolves around the town of Barrow, Alaska and a marauding pack of vampires that descend on the town when it plunges into its seasonal month long night. A very brutal and chilling game of cat and mouse ensues with the residents who survive the initial attack. This entry is unique due to the fact it was originally shopped around as a comic (turned down), then shopped as a movie (turned down), then shelved for a few years before being picked up as a comic by IDW Publishing. It received a very mediocre response from critics, but I feel it is a solid vampire movie especially in the company of the other terrible films in that genre of late (I am staring directly at you “Twilight)


HellblazerBased on the Vertigo comic “HellBlazer“, the movie adaptation adopted the surname of the lead character “Constantine” to avoid confusion with the similarly named Clive Barker franchise from the 90s (Hellraiser).  A supernatural-noir type of story, this movie adopts elements from multiple storylines from long running comic series but plays pretty loose with the main character, a fact which irritated a lot of fans of the comic. It tells the story of John Constantine, a man driven to suicide by his ability to see angels and demons, snatched from the clutches of Lucifer by the miracles of modern medicine. Knowing that his soul is promised to hell he devotes his life to hunting down demons in an attempt to win back favor with God. The movie was met with mediocre reviews, with a large portion of the criticism being leveled at Keanu Reeves’ performance in the lead role. On the other side of the coin, almost all of the supporting cast was giving spectacular reviews for their work. Peter Stormare gives a chilling performance as Lucifer and the always ethereal Tilda Swanson crushed it as the arch-angel Gabriel; even Shia LaBeouf had a great run as Constantine’s oft unwelcomed sidekick.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Tutles

Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesI intentionally left the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” off the last iteration of this list due to the fact I had already nominated it as one of the worst comic book movies of all time.  It was pointed out though that almost no-one, not even casual comic readers, knew that this flick was originally a comic. Much less that it was a very non kid friendly, black and white, indy book by Eastman and Laird from 1984. Back in the 80s there was a huge influx of independent comics with anthropomorphic (look it up slapnuts) characters; in addition to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles there were books like Cerebus, Usagi Yojimbo, Omaha the Cat, etc… that were all critic favorites just way off the beaten path even by a lot of comic book shop’s standards. How the dark and violent source material got turned into the nauseatingly kid friendly franchise that it did is beyond me, but I would highly recommend that people give the original run of the books a look if you can find them. They were extremely well done, and might wash the horrible memories of the movie from your mind.


Kick-AssIt boggles my mind that people don’t know “Kick-Ass” was a comic. I personally never read it, but from the moment I sat down in the theater and watched the Marvel Films flashing comic book page intro flash across the screen it was pretty clear this was an adaptation. Many people have expressed that they didn’t realize this tale of a wanna-be superhero was a comic first and foremost though. “Kick-Ass” is the ultra violent and brutal story of Dave Lizewski, a high school student and avid comic fan, and his attempts at becoming a hero in his own right. In a very tongue-in-cheek, yet horrifically violent, way it presents the age old question of “Why hasn’t anyone just put on a costume and bcome a superhero” in a highly entertaining manner. As I said, I never read the comic, but the adaptation of Mark Millar’s work was highly entertaining and very well done. Plus, how can one not love Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl?!? I am definitely looking forward to “Kick-Ass 2” which is currently in the works.

So you fools know the drill! What have I missed? What do you disagree with? Should the editors buy me something shiny due to my scintillating wordsmithing? Let your thoughts be heard!

    • AGouff

      Funny thing about TMNT – it was a comic, then Hasbro wanted to do the toy series and therefore needed a more kid friendly image, so that's when they pressed Eastman and Laird to let the much more kid-friendly animated series get made. Kind of sad really – they stripped out the amphibious noir style gore and beer guzzling, which in my opinion is what made the comics so unique and awesome.

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