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The title should really say:

"10 Comic Books They Should Make Into Movies Now That Watchmen Has Proven That People Will Pay For R-rated 'kiddie fare' "

When I collected comics regularly I was always drawn to the darker stuff. Superheroes are cool and the comic industry has done some interesting things with them in the last twenty years. Hollywood caught on a lot faster than the comic industry did that the material could use some edge if it were to remain viable, and so we got more mature, well-rounded renditions of Batman, the Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men for our trouble (all good films in one way or another). Even before Watchmen came out this weekend and changed the comic book movie game, Hollywood seemed finally content to let the geeks who generate this stuff handle the scripts, sit in the directing chairs and make everybody happy.

But now that it's clear that people will sit through a three-hour, R-rated comic book film that doesn't have to have Gleek the Space Monkey in it to sell Happy Meals, the door is wide open for a whole slew of comics that, until now, were deemed un-filmable.

Here is my list of 10 comic books that I would love to see get the treatment...and they're ranked for your arguing pleasure!

Photobucket 10) House of Secrets
Not the kooky EC comics rip-off version, but the Steven Seagle written one that takes place on the grunge scene and has the ghost tribunal. This one has the benefit of being super-smart, filled with lots of strong dialogue, and almost no fanboy expectations (since I'm the only person I know who even owns these). Plus, the book has been defunct for years, so it's not like it has to conform to current expectations entirely. There are parts of it I don't even want to see, and I love this book. Also, because of its setting, it would be cheap to make too (except for the flashback scenes, so maybe not so cheap). A worthy, human film...that happens to have good old-fashioned ghosts in it.

Photobucket 9) The Unknown Soldier
How timely would THIS be in these patriotic times, right? Mind you, I'm a big fan of the Garth Ennis mini-series, and I think that's a great skeleton to make a movie off of. You'd have to add to it so that there's better resonance (do a smash news reel thing in the beginning or something), but if you took the mini-series as is once you got it going, you'd be gold. Fanboy expectation would be minimal and the budget wouldn't exceed spy thriller standards.

Photobucket 8) Cages
This may have come out in separate issues, but is in actuality a genuine graphic novel, son. This magnum opus by longtime Sandman illustrator Dave McKean (who directed Mirrormask, by the way) is weird and would require some cutting, but it's a stone cold trip. If the comic genre needed an art house flick other than Ghost World (yawn), this should shoot to the top of the pile. I'd even let McKean direct it so that it retained its unique color palette and style. Cut some of those fairy tales and focus on the censorship issue and you've got a winner here that would be, hands-down, one of the most beautiful movies you ever saw. I think it could win an Oscar for design if done right.

Photobucket 7) Hitman
This book has an Everyman feel to it that would be prescient in these comic book movie-common times.* Put an everyday joe - a guy who comes from a bad neighborhood, likes to hang out at the pub and who happens to be a hitman - and put him smack-dab in the middle of the DC universe where he encounters superheroes (and villains) with regularity. Add some awesome humor, a cast of unforgettable side characters, copious amounts of violence and you've got Hitman. For my money, I'd shoot it in one film, done. Kind of cool that way, I think, considering how the series ends. It'd be a great tongue-in-cheek offering to lighten up the genre before it gets any more emo.

Photobucket 6) Powers
A nice dash of crime noir that happens to have capes in it. The story takes the Common Man approach in its lead detective team and features some really daring stories that are ripe for the big screen. You could make a franchise out of this. It has a way of making epic things seem very small, and has just the right amount of snark and action that a good thriller needs.
Fanboy expectations wouldn't be rabid, but then you need not change it much anyway; this book stands on its own.

Photobucket 5) Transmetropolitan
Blade Runner in day-glo and with a laptop. A decadent book with political ramifications throughout that might have played better before the era of hope, but still necessary filming. This book tells us to trust no one and no system, no matter how good they look. Maybe it IS a good book for the era of hope! I love Obama, but we must always be mindful that the job never turns out the way any of us thought it would. Spider Jerusalem is the perfect anti-hero to point that out. A sizeable budget would be needed, but if done right, it would be worth the effort. Fanboys would be rabid about it, but I think they need to take a small hit on the chin on this one.

Photobucket 4) Swamp Thing
I know they've done it a couple of times already, but that was when Hollywood was trying to make Swamp Thing an action figure and a corny TV show, not a good movie. Forget those two movies ever happened. I'm not talking about a guy in a rubber suit. I'm talking about that hardcore earth elemental jive, son. Contrary to fanboy wet dreams about continuity, I wouldn't start with the Alan Moore stuff. I'd find a way to use that awesome atmospheric stuff from the last reincarnation by Joshua Dysart (Creepy! Horrific! Gumbo!), THEN go into the Alan Moore stuff (especially that issue when Woodrue loses his junk and the heroes are helpless). That way you build a reason for caring about "The Anatomy Lesson". The straight-to-DVD release of Man-Thing had the right idea - an R-rated, atmospheric, non-human elemental that killed dudes dead - but it skimped on the effects budget and a good story (really, a magical swamp shaman? Ugh). This can be done right if someone bothers to read the comics first and crunches the arcs right.
This one also has the benefit of being one of my favorite comics of all time, so if they do it right, I will see it ten times.

Photobucket 3) The Authority
Imagine the Super Friends if they killed the villains. This one is like Watchmen but without the unhappy parts. Tough, raw and epic in scale, this book took comic conventions and, even after a decade or so of increasingly darker books, managed to astonish fans. If you thought Watchmen had strong content, this one will make you think twice about what your kids are reading when they go into that silly old comic book store. The one thing that might hurt the chances of this getting made is the same thing that might make it possible to be made: Watchmen. The Authority revels in its carnage and isn't trying to make the kind of over-arching statements that Watchmen does. It will come off as being violent for violence's sake and its critics would be right...but that's why people love it. You need some popcorn violence in your life...so what if it happens in costume? This would be like watching a really gritty Star Trek movie.

Photobucket 2) Sandman
If there is a comic that represents everything that is possible in a good comic: art, story, covers...the whole shebang, then Sandman is it. Arguably the pinnacle of the art form, this is the book that took comics fully into mainstream awareness. Why? Because it was so well written even book readers couldn't deny it. Neil Gaiman was given a crap assignment and he turned it into an instant classic. No one was telling stories quite like this in comics before him and no one has got the knack since. The guy made fairy tales cool and modern, infusing comics with the cultural cache it needed to be recognized for the art form it is. And the stories! The characters! The scenery! It is an incredibly fantastic series about the Lord of Dreams that would make an awesome series of films. I know Hollywood has been kicking this around for years, as well as a Death film. Skip Death and go right to the source, people. We have the technology now. This is the comic film that movie critics are waiting for. It's gold, like Harry Potter for grown-ups.

Photobucket 1) Preacher
I'll be the one to say it: Watchmen was not un-filmable. Rather, it was only un-filmable until the technology, public appetite and the formation of a true genre of comic-based film caught up to its potential.

Preacher on the other hand? Now THIS might be un-filmable. It is also one of the reasons I want to see it so badly. Look at that comic book cover. That's the first issue, and yes, that is a burning church.

Preacher is not a superhero book. Its creator, Garth Ennis, doesn't like superheroes and it shows through all of his work. It's a simple story really, about a man who is suddenly endowed with a power akin to the Voice of God (he can tell people to do anything he wants) and who in turn goes on a journey to find God so that he might discover why the world is the way it is if God loves us all so much. Along the way our protagonist buddies up with his gun-toting ex-girlfriend and a beer-chugging vampire, who all in turn have to face down various factions and conspiracies from both Heaven, Hell and earth who really wish this magical mortal would go away quietly. Sandwiched between issue #1 and issue #66 (when the series ended) are some of the most raucous scenes of sex, carnage and comedy ever captured in the 4-color form. It was a series that took comic book audiences by the throat and throttled them in the street with its premise, its characters and its left turns into the morbid. It is one of the darkest exercises in excess and WTF moments in any comic series ever. When people say things like "Man, that Dark Knight movie was pretty edgy," I think, this person has never even heard of Preacher.

So it might be un-filmable but not for the same reasons Watchmen was considered un-filmable. Preacher might be more than a typical movie audience can handle. It would be like taking Tideland and making it good, while retaining all of its sick, twisted elements...and then throwing religion and cowboy mythology into the mix. If a movie were ever going to be picketed, this might be the one...which to me is all the more reason to make it. It is a powerfully engaging story on numerous levels.

Hollywood has flirted with the idea of making this picture in the past based solely on its popularity as a comic, and a number of actors have expressed interest (or fans have made it seem that way). Samuel L. Jackson was long ago floated as a candidate to portray the Saint of Killers (a character who provides one of the best reasons to pick this title up). I have always hated that idea. I think that idea picked up steam because, back when this series was out, Jackson was what most people considered to be cinema's ultimate bad-ass. And since the Saint IS the ultimate bad-ass, it was a case of “let's bypass the source material on this one and see if it turns into ticket sales”. It wouldn't. If we've learned nothing from the comic genre in the last few years it's that a well-done, well-promoted film doesn't need a superstar to make people want to see it. They can even hurt in most cases (budget-wise and in audience detachment). The best and most lauded actor in Watchmen is the guy best known for playing Kelly from The Bad News Bears. When Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, people were jumping off of bridges. When Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Iron Man, people were praying for him to get in a car wreck. The formula has clearly become “just get good actors, stupid.” (This should equally discount all of the Ben Affleck crap for the lead in Preacher. Sure, he looks the part, but Affleck's always playing Affleck and we don't need somebody who can cry on cue for this film anyway.)

I have faith that one day this series will be made into a movie. I have no hope that it will be all that the series is, and that’s okay so long as what they do capture is true and done well. I don’t know if I need the sex detectives or the meat packing tycoon or the Irish pub scenes in my Preacher movie. I do, however, need it to be true.

By the way: it wouldn’t be a terribly expensive film to make. It’s a lot of real world stuff with the occasional angel or explosion. So really, Hollywood, you could make a killing on this even if it went straight to DVD.

Honorable mentions:
- 100 Bullets – It’d be an easy film to budget for, but I’ve learned to hate this comic over the years. Way too inconclusive. Get it over with already.
- Kingdom Come – DC’s less-racy version of Watchmen would be an awesome spectacle, but it has too many characters to build resonance around. Hollywood can barely get films of the main characters right, let alone somebody like The Spectre.
- Astro City – Might be too quaint now, but I’d still like to see it.
- Trencher – Personal call all the way. The series was only four issues long, but man, what a concept!

* Notice how there aren't any action movies anymore? No action stars? The genre has been replaced by comic book movies. I have theories.


( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 8th, 2009 03:05 pm (UTC)
throwing my two cents worth in, Sandman I would love to see into a movie, who would you get to play the Endless?

Preacher? Good comic book but how would they pull it off as a movie?
some of the stories are good but after a while it all boiled down to the good guys with the bad guys (heaven & hell) going after a drunken vampire, a trailer trash ex and the voice of God.
Mar. 8th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Sandman
Dream - Cillian Murphy
Destruction - Kevin McKidd
Destiny - 1) Iggy Pop or 2) Stanley Tucci (he's covered anyway; we just want a strong nose)
Despair - Kathy Bates
Desire - 1) Jaye Davidson or 2) Tilda Swinton
Death - 1) Ellen Page or 2) Rachel Weisz if you want to play it clightly older.
Delirium - Dakota Fanning (she practically had the look down in "Push")

Re: Preacher
You have to do it in two films.
Three is too many and one isn't enough.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Mar. 6th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 6th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - abiegale - Mar. 8th, 2009 03:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - abiegale - Mar. 8th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 9th, 2009 01:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 8th, 2009 03:25 pm (UTC)
I'd rather see Astro City as a group of mini-series than a single movie. Too many good stories to be told from that comic.

Kingdom Come would be an interesting movie, about like Crisis On Infinite Earths.

I'd like to see a decent Judge Dredd movie, which it sounds like someone is trying to do.

Marvels might be a fun series to make for one season.

Samuel L. Jackson as The Saint of Killers? Weird....

Hey, I was rooting for RDJr. to play Tony Stark. They have so much in common and it seemed a natural fit.

Unknown Soldier you make a pretty good movie script....

Personally, I'd like to see someone at WB greenlight an animated version of Legion of Super Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga. One of my favorite stories.
Mar. 8th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
Astro would make a nice TV show or mini-series, but I imagine the budget would be...woo. If they kept it to a mini-series, they could dump their resources into it and go for broke.

Kingdom Come is a great story, but only if you already know the universe. It would be lost on all of the people we'd need to buy tickets to make it worth the effort in the first place. If they get Wonder Woman and Superman right a couple of times, then we can talk Kingdom Come. Same thing withmarvels, though Marvels has a hell of a headstart with so many strong movies already out about their key characters.

Not feeling the Dredd. Was never a big fan of Legion.
(no subject) - louiserobertson - Mar. 8th, 2009 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 8th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
They made a decent RPG out of The Authority

The Swamp Thing movies weren't good enough for you?!?

Seeing Transmet might make my head explode
Mar. 8th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
The Swamp Thing movies weren't good enough for anybody....
Re: Dude... - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Dude... - theryk - Mar. 8th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Dude... - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 8th, 2009 04:27 pm (UTC)

OMFG, yes.

I know he's a bit long in the tooth for the character, but Clive Owen would fucking rock as Preacher. Yes, I am biased. Obviously I think the character is mad sexy. As a chick, I like the angle of the story between Preacher and Tulip (I was blanking on the name and kept thinking "Daisy" and I knew it wasn't right) is something interesting. You usually don't see a love interest being that prominent (or at least I don't think of many stories where it is). It's not incredibly complex, but it's compelling to me. I think a great story could be done with a lot of crossover potential for females if it was done right and still be an awesome movie.

Robert Downey, Jr. is an amazing actor and is the reason I want to see Iron Man. I wasn't jazzed about the idea of the movie, but I love most things he's in and I just haven't gotten to see it yet (I tend to say I want to see something and then don't get around to it).
Mar. 8th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
Iron Man is worth the watching. I really liked it up until the rote fight scene at the end. But the ending... wait, I don't want to ruin it for you.
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 8th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Three more!
How about... "Just a Pilgrim"? The good guy is a mass-murdering cannibal? Hell yes, he is. The final battle at the wreck of the Titanic alone would make Michael Bay say "Hmmm, maybe this is too many explosions".

Also - totally unfilmable, but "Johnny the Homicidal Maniac"... If Debbie Schlussel didn't like "Watchmen" for the violence, let's see her deal with the protagonist drawing and quartering people and feeding a wall blood.

Also, "The Goon". Here's the teaser trailer: The camera pans over a Depression-era city, while an olde timey radio plays Al Jolson or Irving Berlin or somesuch. Then, the announcer breaks in to report on the latest gangland violence, and then it mentions how the hordes of the undead are moving on the city... and then "But have no fear citizen, because even the undead fear... THE GOON!". Lightning flash, face of the Goon, go dark. You're welcome, Hollywood.

Mar. 8th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Three more!
"Just a Pilgrim"? YES!

How about the "The Pro"...?
Re: Three more! - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Three more! - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 8th, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
What about:

1. Sam & Max- Freelance Police (forget the watered down Saturday morning cartoon version. I'd still make it animated but retain the humor and edge of the original)

2. Two words: WOOD GOD!

3. Regarding your #1 It was actually 66 regular, monthly issues, five one-shot specials and a four-issue "Saint of Killers" limited series. Not that I'm counting. Actually, yes I am and I own them all! A hahahahahaha!!!!!!!!

4. Regarding your #7- as long as you make sure they include Six-Pack & Section 8. wait- maybe they need their own "save the world" movie...

5. Regadring everything else: Yes, I agree with you.
Mar. 8th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
p.s. this was me with the 5 part comment. I thought I was signed in...
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 8th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
Love the list.

Powers has already been optioned as a TV series. FX will be airing it, and Brian Michael Bendis is the head writer.

100 Bullets is set to end in a couple of weeks with issue #100. Will it finally be wrapped up and make complete sense? Almost certainly not. It is a shame that they got too carried away with this series, but maybe they could clean things up, translating it to a new medium.

My, I pretty much agree with Scott, so here's a five other titles list:

1. The Nightly News by Jonathan Hickman. A cult that kills reporters. A main character who depolores dishonest journalism, but forgives Patricia Smith, because of her beautiful use of language. But mostly because I like neither cults nor most reporters, and would love to see them thin each other out.

2. An animated series or miniseries based on Fables. An evil army run by (name withheld in case you haven't read it) destroying all the story worlds you grew up reading, plus a town full of survivors living in the heart of New York. The Adversary reveal alone is pretty epic.

3. Fell by Warren Ellis. Because the world needs a well told police noir. And this would give Warren the opportunity to stop treading water in the X-Men world, and get back to work on something really cool.

4. And if the world needs another fairly dark, realistic super hero story, The Luna Brothers' Ultra would be a great place to start (and their series, Girls, would be a really creepy sci-fi trip, while we're at it). It's also got some great

5. I would love to see a Red Son movie. Probably straight to DVD, but a blast. Superman's cradle rocket hits Earth twelve hours later, and he and other major DCU characters end up in The Soviet Union. Easily the most interesting Superman story out there.
Mar. 8th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
ABC bought a pilot of Fables. =\

it's probably the only comic I'd chomp at the bit to see an adaptation of, but would prefer a short movie franchise...
(no subject) - amberdulen - Mar. 8th, 2009 05:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 9th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - whoisthespirit - Mar. 9th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 9th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 8th, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC)
Cillian for Desire. Come on.

I'm only through the fifth Sandman, but so far it's pretty episodic. What arc would you like to see them put in a movie? (Assume a two-hour limit.)
Mar. 8th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
He's too butch! Did you see Constantine? Tilda Swinton was so androgynous I didn't know if I should kiss her or share a locker room with her.
(no subject) - diva_dot - Mar. 9th, 2009 05:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 9th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
edited reply - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: edited reply - scottwoods - Mar. 8th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: edited reply - izhilzha - Mar. 9th, 2009 05:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: edited reply - scottwoods - Mar. 9th, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 9th, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
Neil Gaiman is my hero.
Mar. 9th, 2009 06:04 am (UTC)
And the Beauty of Gaiman
Is that sometimes, the studio or some one pulls it together and does one right by one of his works.

Also, previous works in multiple media- Have you seen the original Neverwhere BBC series?

What would be a few you think were better Gaiman films than the others.

The trick with doing the Sandman series, Death could do her own little Wolvie spin off while you did Dream Like X-man. Or Potter.
Unless you got him to write it.
That might happen.

Notice how many of those are Vertigo titles?
I almost want to do the variant lists here, replacing each vertigo title with a Pirana Press one (which became Vertigo). Gregory. Pixar Anitmated.
Rob Zombie doing Cotton Candy Autposy from Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children.
MAUS. It won a Pulitzer.

Or the All Vertigo List.
#1 Hellblazer
(Not that miserable piece of combined suck of all the Punisher films)
#2 Preacher.
#3 Enigma

I'd love to see Tarintino get his hands on Cherry Poptart, but I don't think that'll ever happen.
Re: And the Beauty of Gaiman - scottwoods - Mar. 9th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 9th, 2009 06:40 am (UTC)
It hurts to read you bash my Bullets, but I'll deal... I figured that would make a very solid HBO show for five seasons or so. I still think Watchmen should have been done the HBO way. Most everything that I would mention has been covered already. Though I think there are quite a few Morrison books you are ignoring that would make wonderful movies which you see without having to do the acid beforehand. Seaguy or We-3 or Animal Man even are all very clean well executed ideas. Even Marvel Boy could redone with maybe a more insular mode of thought and be one hell of an action ride. Lastly while neither is near a complete run I'd wager Invincible (makes the violence of Watchmen look like a slap on the wrist) and Northlanders, vikings? great vikings? are you kidding me this doesn't exists yet? All self contained? Those would be wonderful too.

And since you did it for Sandman - I was curious how you would cast Preacher?
Mar. 9th, 2009 02:15 pm (UTC)
Now, HBO/Showtime are completely viable alternatives no one is talking about! Good eye! And I think you could do something like 100 Bullets on those networks...except that they kill even great shows after about two seasons.

Re: Preacher Cast

Well, the good news is that it's in pre-production, with a script being written by John August, who also wrote two Tim Burton films: "Corpse Bride" and "Charlie andthe Chocolate Factory". The potentially bad news is that it's being written by John August, who also wrote "Charlie's Angels" and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle", as well as some other suspect script punch-ups.

Anyhow, my cast (just the leads):

Jesse Custer - James Purefoy
Tulip - 1) Christina Ricci or 2) Kristin Chenowith
Cassidy - Robert Carlyle
Herr Star - James Woods
Saint of Killers - Robert Duvall
Arseface - Christopher Mintz-Plasse
(no subject) - whoisthespirit - Mar. 9th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 9th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scottwoods - Mar. 9th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 9th, 2009 08:50 am (UTC)
I completely agree with this list with one exception...I'd love to see the first graphic novel made into a movie: Will Eisner's 1978: A Contract with God.

Of course, that just turns into an Eisner autobiography...but still...
Mar. 9th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)
Good book, boring movie.
Mar. 9th, 2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
* Notice how there aren't any action movies anymore? No action stars? The genre has been replaced by comic book movies. I have theories.

me too... a good actor in a mask is cheaper than a well known actor in a mask...
( 55 comments — Leave a comment )

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