Now that comic book movies are more popular than ever, studios have been rushing to find the perfect ongoing comic series or stand-alone graphic novel to turn into the next big blockbuster. This task is a lot hardier than it seems thanks to the core differences between comics and movies, but some comics are practically movies just waiting to be greenlit.
Whether their creators intended it or not, these comics are basically movie pitches gift-wrapped for filmmakers and producers. In fact, some of these comics are little more than finished storyboards and screenplays ready to be sent to pre-production. Whether or not these titles actually succeed as movies is a whole other matter.
10 Xerxes Was Adapted Into A Movie Before The Comic Was Even Published
Following 300’s massive success, Frank Miller began working on a sequel/prequel to his historical graphic novel. Work on Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander began in 2008, but it only made it to stores in 2018. By then, 300’s sequel The Rise of an Empire was already four years old.
Xerxes was debatably better as a storyboard than a comic, as The Rise of an Empire used parts of it even before Miller finished them. What’s more, the movie recounted the same events better than the comic did. Zack Snyder planned to adapt Alexander the Great’s chapters in Xerxes, but producers showed little interest in his pitch.
9 Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash Was The Scrapped Sequel’s Comic Adaptation
After Freddy Vs. Jason’s success, a sequel was quickly considered. Instead of simply bringing back Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, the sequel added Ash Williams from the Evil Dead movies. Unfortunately, the movie never made it past the pitch meeting because producers wouldn’t allow Ash to actually kill either Freddy or Jason.
The rejected pitch was repurposed into a comic miniseries written by James Kuhoric and illustrated by Jason Craig. Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash was the direct sequel to Freddy Vs. Jason and it delivered everything its title promised. The crossover did so well that it got a sequel in The Nightmare Warriors, where Freddy and Jason finally died.
8 Gamekeeper May Or May Not Be Guy Ritchie’s Next Movie
Guy Ritchie is known for his hard-hitting crime movies, and his signature grit was all over Gamekeeper’s pages. Based on Ritchie’s idea, written by Andy Diggle, and illustrated by Mukesh Singh, Gamekeeper followed a thug named Brock as he’s forced to resort to his old bloody ways to protect his found family when assassins strike.
In Gamekeeper’s introduction, Ritchie explained that he made the comic in the hopes of emulating Frank Miller and Zack Snyder’s success with 300, and he used it as a pitch. Warner Bros. picked up Gamekeeper’s filmrights, but nothing’s come of it since 2007. Not helping matters are the studio’s current state of disarray and Ritchie’s busy schedule.
7 Hack/Slash’s Adaptation Has Been Stuck In Limbo For Years
Although it’s a comic, Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash was arguably meant for the big screen. The comics followed Cassie Hack, a „final girl“ who survived a Slasher attack and took it upon herself and Vlad to kill Slashers. Basically, Cassie battled legally approved homages and parodies of slasher killers and other horror monsters.
Hack/Slash is Seeley’s love letter to trashy slasher movies, and this is evident in the number of references, the „Trailers“ one-shots, and even some official crossovers with horror icons. Since 2006, Hack/Slash was passed from studio to studio, but nothing ever came of this. At best, Hack/Slash got a few stage play adaptations.
6 Nemesis Is One Of Mark Millar’s Most Obvious Movie Pitches Yet
One of the most persistent criticisms of Millar’s works is that they feel more like glorified movie pitches than actual comics, and Nemesis gives this allegation the most credence. Written by Millar and illustrated by Steven McNiven, Nemesis follows a monstrous self-made supervillain’s rampage that a lone FBI agent tries to stop.
Nemesis has its moments, but it’s still a juvenile and shallow power fantasy that has more in common with a sizzle reel than a character study. If Millar’s goal with Nemesis was to attract attention no matter what, he succeeded. As of this writing, Nemesis‘ movie is in the scripting stages, and it’s far from the only Millarworld pitch that a studio picked up.
5 Spawn Became The Poster Boy Of Thinly-Veiled Marketing Pitches
It’s impossible to overstate how much of a game-changer Todd McFarlane’s Spawn was, but its legacy isn’t as perfect as fans might hope. At its best, Spawn was the gold standard for creator-owned blockbuster comics. At its worst, Spawn was a blatant cash cow that McFarlane had little to no interest in as a creative endeavor.
At the height of Spawn’s popularity, McFarlane was offered deals for cartoons, movies, toys, and more. As Spawn’s fame increased, McFarlane gradually left the comic to focus on merchandising. McFarlane later returned to Spawn’s writing and drawing duties, but he arguably spent more time using Spawn as a pitch to investors than creating the comic.
4 The Carnival Of Immortals Was Adapted Into A Movie By Its Author
These days, Immortal is barely remembered. Besides being one of the first movies to be shot on a digital backlot, Immortal is best known by movie buffs for being really weird and esoteric. With its obscurity in mind, it stands to reason that close to no one would know that Immortal was based on its director’s graphic novel.
Enki Bilal wrote and drew The Carnival of Immortals (the first part of The Nikopol Trilogy)in 1980, and he directed its film adaptation in 2004. Besides some necessary changes like rewritten dialogue and rearranged scenes, Immortal was a faithful adaptation. Immortal was polarizing on release, but many praised it for bringing the comics to life.
3 300’s Pages Came To Life Through The Movie
300 is notable not just for being one of the most stylized historical movies of all time, but for being a uniquely shot-for-shot comic book movie. Although director Zack Snyder and screenwriter Kurt Johnstad had to add new characters and scenes given the comic’s short length, 300 was a one-to-one translation of Frank Miller’s illustrated epic.
To set up scenes, Snyder photocopied the comic’s pages and used them as references. In effect, 300 could be read as a companion piece or as a storyboard with a clear outline. Snyder always wanted to adapt Miller’s 300, and he used his clout from Dawn of the Dead to make his passion project happen.
2 Sin City’s Work Was Halfway Done Thanks To The Comics
Sin City is hailed as one of the most unique comic book movies ever made, due to the fact that it’s a shot-for-shot retelling of Frank Miller’s Sin City comics. In a very literal sense, director Robert Rodriguez brought Miller’s pages to life. At most, some dialogue was shortened and some nudity and violence were slightly toned down for live-action.
Rodriguez stayed faithful to the comics as much as possible, and he treated Miller’s most famous original works as a finished script and storyboard instead of source material to adapt. Miller praised Sin City for being a „translation,“ and Rodriguez agreed and gave Miller co-directing credit, even though the comics writer had never directed a film at that point.
1 Oblivion Was Based On A Non-Existant Graphic Novel
Oblivion is a post-apocalyptic movie filled with mysteries, but its biggest question isn’t connected to Jack Harper’s story at all. More than once, it was officially stated that Oblivion was based on director Joesph Kosinski’s graphic novel, but Oblivion isn’t available anywhere. The Oblivion comic was finished but never published.
Along with co-writer Arvid Nelson and illustrator Andree Wallin, Kosinski made a short comic about a post-apocalyptic adventure that he wanted to expand into a graphic novel. The trio only got as far as a few pages and concept art pieces, which Kosinski then used to pitch Oblivion to studios, not as a graphic novel but as a movie.
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