Long gone are the days of god-awful comic book movies. Although there were a couple of cool ones like Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man flicks or Blade with tax-avoiding Wesley Snipes, the majority were terrible back then. We don’t intend to ruin your day, but try and remember 1997’s Spawn or Steel with Shaquille O’Neal.
The bar is much higher nowadays, luckily, and we can enjoy much better movies ever since Marvel’s big revolution of 2008 with their first MCU film — Iron Man. But it’s not all roses when it comes to movie adaptations. Even if some are really pleasing and different like the first Ant-Man, most are generic, formula-based popcorn garbage.
So, can we still enjoy our favorite characters? Yep! We can. Moreover, we can still enjoy them the same way we did all those years ago when movie adaptations were reserved only for the likes of Superman with Christopher Reeve. In other words, let’s remember all the benefits of reading comics instead of watching the big screen, shall we?
Sometimes, Films Change the Storyline a Bit
The first and obvious reason why you shouldn’t skip comics is that they have original storylines. In these plots, you can learn all the details about your favorite characters, their sidekicks, and villains. You’ll understand better what their motives are, why they wear their costumes, and how they’ve come up with them.
On the other hand, films don’t include all these details. For various reasons, directors, producers, and other people involved decide to change arcs and modify them for their medium. And that’s okay. Some things just aren’t cinematic, and you can’t show them in their full glory, so they are left out, and plot points change.
Movies Have Less Detail
Another reason why a comic version is better than a movie adaptation is that characters are much deeper and more developed. In most cases, this isn’t because movie audiences are dumb and just want to watch big CGI fights, but because of time restraints.
Believe it or not, an average viewer can’t sit for 10 hours while someone explains to them how deep of a character Doctor Doom is. They want to see him behind his mask, causing havoc and fighting Mister Fantastic and his posse. But that’s a shame. If they could, films would at least be somewhat equal to their pen and ink predecessors.
Comics Dwell Into Every Character
Like we’ve said, the source material — the one you can enjoy while reading comics — is full of interesting characters aside from the protagonists. From villains and sidekicks to love interests, they’re all there. Moreover, comic books and graphic novels dwell in them, exploring all their sides.
But what is there to explore, you might ask? Why is the story more important than bombastic CGI that looks and feels amazing? Well, comics and graphic novels are mediums that are visual, spatial, and textual. And the latter is where it’s at. Through text, readers can directly see what characters are thinking and, in turn, understand their motives better.
Comics Provide Explanations
Plots and characters in comics and graphic novels don’t appear in the first frame, fully formed and heading towards their goal. The stories take time to build them up, to set their motives straight, and to explain the setting. This, unfortunately, isn’t the case with movie adaptations of comics due to previously mentioned restraints.
Now, while some film adaptations try to manage this problem, they rarely succeed. Usually, the runtime is so short that it’s simply impossible to do things correctly. Luckily for all comic book readers, TV adaptations have the luxury to do their favorite characters justice. But then again, they lack those blockbuster budgets.
Film Versions Are Limited
Unlike comic books, films have a tendency to lessen the story, the number of characters, and the setting. This is mostly down to budget concerns. They can’t cast enough A-list stars, produce a script that involves everyone, and film giant sets where the story takes place. Yet, in comics, there are no such concerns. It’s way simpler.
Once the author writes the scenario down, the artist will illustrate it all and voilà. They can come up with the wildest ideas and lay them on the pages without any money being involved. It comes down only to their imagination and skill. And that’s not to say that some movies don’t make stuff look and feel grand. It’s just a different medium.
Movie Adaptations Nerf Characters
Lastly, we need to mention how movies often nerf characters so that they could be filmable. Sure enough, the CGI potential and overall technology are much better than they were in the 90s, but they still can’t fill all the holes. Not only do the effects still look and feel unreal — they’re not shot in-camera — but there’s also something about actual drawings that can’t be replicated.
Comic book adaptations show superheroes in poses that you can’t pull off. Well, at least if you don’t have superpowers. Panels are highly stylized, like Dark Horse’s Sin City. And yes, the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s masterpiece series does look unique by movie standards, but you can’t compare it with the source material. They nerf them down.
Reading comic books isn’t just for extreme fans and hipsters who enjoy explaining how they’re better than the rest because they know some character’s backstory. Moreover, we’re not here to tell you not to watch movies. We’d never do that. It’s just about acknowledging the original material and shedding some light on it in these MCU-plagued times.