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Comic books and movies go hand in hand and that’s never been more apparent than the recent offering of box office treats and records provided by the comic industry. While the flow of talent moves both ways, as evidenced by writers like J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5) and Brian K. Vaughan (Lost) now creating comics for us, there’s still a tremendous wealth of great comic books and comic book stories by talented creators that haven’t experienced Hollywood yet that can be adapted to the screen. There are some choices that were left off of this list and that I would dearly love to see made into movies but for this purpose I attempted to keep it to the ten properties or stories I think are most deserving of the consideration, whether I’m a fan or not, regardless of the genre. It’s also important to understand that movies are not comics, but if we stray too far from the source material it can become unrecognizable and defeat the purpose of dipping into that well in the first place. So here goes…
10) Aquaman… After what I’ve recently read in Geoff Johns' The Trench, and what he’s done with Green Lantern, again, we’re talking about following what’s come before, the comic, by adapting and sticking close to, the source material. Some great visuals and characters, written very smartly, a ‘villain’ that’s close enough to zombie stuff that it could bring in the Walking Dead fans and you’ve got a hit out of a B character.
9) Swamp Thing… A choice on this list that’s already been done. But do it right this time. Give it the budget and special effects it deserves. Throw in a heaping helping of horror elements and you’ve got the makings of a modern day classic.
8) Wolverine… Now I know that arguably this is already a comic book movie franchise, but also, arguably, the Superman III and IV of the Wolverine/X-Men experience. Wolverine Origins was made to get to the core of Wolverine’s character and Marvel Comics couldn’t do anything other than present his origin first. Which created the Origin story that I thought was very good. Yet for my money, if you want to get down to the core of Logan’s character, it has nothing to do with his origin and everything to do with the man. Movies are not comic books, but the comics can provide an existing story that has proven the test of time. Imagine the visuals of Logan in the Canadian mountains tracking that bear or in Japan fighting The Hand, The Silver Samurai, and Lord Shingen. Wolverine by Claremont and Miller needs to be adapted.
7) Turok… Indians and dinosaurs. What more do you need? Turok has already spawned a successful video game and two separate runs of comics for Gold Key in the 60’s and Valiant in the 90’s and this could be roaring fun.
6) Essex County… This is the Jeff Lemire work that touches me as magical. Nominated for both an Eisner and Harvey Award, Essex County is the story of two brothers in a Canadian farming town, memory, loss, and grief. Add in some hockey and superheroes in the way of a child wearing his makeshift cape and you’ve got a moving, touching, character driven story much like Cider House Rules or Stand By Me.
5) Deathstroke: The Terminator… Here’s a great opportunity. Slade Wilson, military man, mercenary, and assassin. Plenty of room for action and comic references, a la Smallville. I could see this having massive potential as a very subdued comic book, over the top action film, with lots of crossover potential.
4) Preacher… Had been purchased for a feature film and was in the works for HBO and would’ve been fantastic there. It’s the first time I’ve even thought about paying for premium channels (other than my football programming). Now Columbia Pictures owns the feature rights. If you can get past the vulgarities and shock moments it boils down to one man’s search for God and the ending is something you’ll never forget. Empire Magazine lists two characters from this story as Greatest Comic Book Characters of all time; Jesse Custer #11 and Saint of Killers #42.
3) Bone… By Jeff Smith, Bone has won ten Eisner Awards and ten Harvey Awards and in 1995 and 1996 he won the National Cartoonists Society’s award for comic books. It’s currently in production with Animal Logic, the Australian visual effects company responsible for The Matrix, Happy Feet, and 300. Let us all hope this one doesn’t end up languishing in development hell.
2) Elfquest… Wendy and Richard Pini struck gold with this independent creation in 1978. It’s won several awards and is currently not in production at Warner Brothers, which has deemed it ‘too similar to The Hobbit’. There’s a case of a desk executive reading the word “fantasy” or “elf” because that’s where the similarities end and Elfquest, which has a grand and loyal fanbase, and a very large female base, could immediately vault the comic book curse of capturing female fans. The fan trailer made on virtually no budget gave us a teasing glimpse of just how good this can look.
1) Blacksad… Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, two Spanish creators have created easily one of the best produced comic books that I have ever seen. Anthropomorphic in nature, Blacksad captures perfectly the nuanced expressions that can convey meaning without words. The choices for each character are equally thought out. Blacksad is what every other comic book aspires to be. As a straight up animated movie, not CGI, the art would clearly not be the same but in the proud tradition of Sin City or 300 scenes and even angles can be taken directly from the story and that would suffice. A big part of making this book number one is the fact that both of these creators have put in some time at Disney and understand what makes a story move. It shows in their work and that’s a work that I would be very entertained by on the big screen. Or even the big screen at home.