When I say Comic Book movie what do you think of? Batman, The Avengers, or Man of Steel. Of course you would, these franchises are huge, earning their respective studios millions of pounds. However, apart from being giant blockbusters with a license to print money, perhaps the biggest thing that they all have in common is that they’re all about superheroes.
The superhero comic movie has very much been the flavour of the moment for well over a decade; the genre arguably being revitalised after the success of Bryan Singer’s X-Men back in 2000. Sure, there were superhero films before X-Men, Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), Howard the Duck (1986) co-written and produced by George Lucas, and Jeannot Szwarc’s Supergirl (1984), but, for me, it wasn’t until X-Men that people began to really notice the full potential of the comic book movie.
What you might be aware of is the existence of non-superhero comic book films. That’s right, movies based on comic books that don’t have people running around in capes. Films such as the awesome Ghost World (2001) based on the book by David Clowes, and starring a pre-Black Widow Scarlett Johansson. There’s the Tom Hanks starrer Road to Perdition (2002) based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins. There’s more out there than you think: Men in Black (1997); Sin City (2005); Constantine (2005); V for Vendetta (2005); A History of Violence (2005); 300 (2006) – the latter being a guilty pleasure of mine. Some of these titles have done extremely well at the box office, maybe not Dark Knight Trilogy well or The Avengers well, but they’ve done enough business to make people sit up and notice or to spawn sequels. Oooh Spawn, that was a comic book movie from 1997.
Then we have such gems as The Walking Dead (non-superhero) on our televisions. Man, non-superhero comic books can certainly hold their own against their superhero counterparts on the big screen and on TV and there are stories out there just begging to be told. So, without further ado, I present my list of 5 non-superhero comic books that should be made into movies or TV shows.
Fables and its various spin offs (Jack of Fables being the biggest) are among my very favourite comic books. Created by Bill Wilingham and published under the DC Vertigo imprint, Fables tells the story of, well Fables, the beings that we come to know and love from our fairy tales, who have been forced from their Homelands into the real (Mundy) world, by a wicked, wicked bad guy known as The Adversary.
In the Mundy (mundane) world, the Fables are forced to live in secret, forming their own community known as Fabletown. Here, they govern themselves, with Wilingham reimagining such characters as Snow White as the Deputy Mayor and Bigby aka The Big Bad Wolf (of Little Red Riding Hood fame) as a detective.
What about the non-human Fables? I don’t hear you ask, but I’m going to explain anyway. Why, the like of the Three Little Pigs, Chicken Little and Puss in Boots all live on The Farm in upstate New York, hidden from the prying eyes of the Mundy.
The various story arcs are as inventive as they are exciting and, to my mind, would make a wonderful TV show. In fact, in 2005, NBC was readying Fables for such a series, but unfortunately it never got much further than the development stages. NBC, did, however, go on to create Grimm, a fantasy cop procedural show featuring fairy tale characters inspired by the Brothers Grimm…
Also, in 2008, ABC commissioned a pilot based on Fables, sadly, this failed to materialise, and, instead, ABC went on to make Once Upon a Time, a series about fairy tale characters in the real world…
Both Grimm and Once Upon a Time are obviously inspired by Fables, and maybe there’s only room for two shows featuring fairy tales in the real world, but I still harbour hopes for a Fable series. I mean, who doesn’t want to see the March of the Wooden Soldiers storyline brought to life?
I cannot adequately praise Y: The Last Man, saying that the book is awesome is not enough, calling it fantastic is an exercise in learning that my command of the English language isn’t as good as I previously thought.
Y: The Last Man is one of those books that has you hooked with each page turn and which remains with you long after you’ve finished reading and re-reading the series (you WILL read all 60 issues more than once). Published by DC Vertigo and created by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, the story centers around a young man named Yorick, the last male survivor of a plague that wiped out every living mammal possessing the Y chromosome. Every embryo, every zygote, every sperm. Everything that was male or destined to become male, dying at the same time.
Think about that. Every. Single. Male. Gone!
Actually, that’s not strictly true, as, Ampersand, Yorick’s pet capuchin monkey, has also survived this disastrous event that has plunged society into chaos and threatens the mass extinction of all mammalian life.
I love my post-apocalyptic futures, and this book sits at the very top of the pile and is well deserving of its five Eisner Awards and easily serves as a master class in how to tell stories featuring dystopian world.
Now, I’m going to be controversial and I’m probably going to catch some hate for this, but I can see Ryan Reynolds playing the role of Yorick and Jennifer Carpenter (Debs from TV’s Dexter) as his sister Hero.
Over the years, various people have been attached to a live action version of the book. In 2007 New Line Cinema had eyes on Shia LeBeouf in playing Yorick for a trilogy of movies as D. J. Caruso (who was slated to direct) felt that the source material was far too big in scope for a single movie. Zachery Levi from TV’s Chuck also had designs to playing the titular last man.
More recently, in an interview with Crave Online, David S. Goyer (long attached to the project as producer), said that a script for Y: The Last Man was “as close as it’s ever been”, when asked if he was still producing it.
So fingers crossed we’ll see this for real, Man of Steel 2 notwithstanding…