Okay, so I’m off to a winning start, having missed yesterday. I tell myself I am doing this on the weekend, but yesterday was Easter. That’s not a very good excuse but it’s the one I’ve got.
I saw an article today that Scarlett Johannson (sp?) is going to be in Iron Man 2. That brought up in my head once again the film vs. comic issue. Many people have weighed in on this, so I guess it’s my turn, though I already did once before years ago. I would almost post it now and let myself off the hook but that would be both disingenuous and may even be misleading (I haven’t looked at it in a long time and the details of my opinion may have changed).
Comics aren’t movies, and movies aren’t comics, nor will they ever be. Now, for those of you who are saying “Thank you Captain Obvious, now I can sleep better!” I say to you, never overlook that point. I have met many people who just don’t seem to get it, and who continually try to fuse the two with predictably laughable results. And it’s laughable if we’re lucky. Anyone remember the Dolph Lundgren “Punisher”? I rest my case.
People who confuse comics and movies, or those who try to make the one medium function as the other (badly), have come from two main sources in my experience: those who don’t read comics, and people in the movie business.
I have done some screenwriting and while it is plausible to turn an unproduced script into a comic, it isn’t plausible to turn a comic into a movie – not directly anyway. First, let’s examine movie into comic.
I’m sure you have seen comic adaptations of some films, and you may notice what I did: that it comes across as a “cliffnotes” version of a movie. A comic adaptation has to take out so much from a film script it gives you the idea of the film but not the emotional impact.
But the thing is a comic can’t help but be that way when adapting a movie. There are two main reasons why that is:
1. films work in time and comics work in space
2. comics are silent and don’t have the advantage of a soundtrack to make you feel emotion
Time is the “medium” that film works in, how we see a character is deciding something, feeling something, or even thinking about something. But physically showing those things can’t be put into a comic without making the comic 300 pages long. And even if the comic is 300 pages long, a reader does more active work in creating the narrative than a viewer so can throw off the timing just by looking at the book too fast. A viewer is passive, force-fed a story at the rate the director chooses. A reader is active, and can play with his perception of the book. The (good) editors and writers of comics can guide a reader, but no one can stop a reader from moving his eyes across a page and spoiling the reveal or just reading really fast or slow. This is why many reveals are on the back side of the page you are reading in comics.
Comics don’t have the space to show thinking or reacting like films do, so they have the thought bubble (or more recently, the text box as thought bubble). That forces the reader to read the thoughts in order to get the idea because it’s the only way to get the reader to slow down. But spoken thoughts just don’t work in movies. Anyone who doesn’t believe me, go see “Sin City” again.
I could go on all night about the subject, but I don’t have the time. That didn’t start out as a pun, but what the hell?
Secondly, there is no sound in comics. If people are upset, it must show in the panel and in the words. There is more work to convey emotion in the written word than in a movie, because even the funniest or saddest scene in a movie can lose its impact without music, or with the music changed. That goes to prove something about screenwriting itself, but then again I don’t blame the screenwriter, only because I know that when writing a film everybody on the project is giving you ideas or forcible suggestions to put their own mark on your stuff.
So that is a very brief look at why movies don’t translate well into comics.
Now for comics that don’t turn into movies:
Many of the reasons are the same here: time versus space consideration, speaking versus acting and such , but a movie can never be a comic for two other reasons: visuals and the reader.
The reader, as mentioned above, is a participant in a book, and he isn’t in a film. So a reader who is now a viewer will never get the same experience from a comic-based movie as he does from a comic book. The “hardcore” fan of comics is a prime example of this. These are the people who piss and moan about every single comic movie because it wasn’t exactly how Kirby did it 40 years ago or some other such nonsense. In short, those people aren’t used to being told what is going on in a story, they are used to helping create the story and very much dislike it when they don’t participate and “choose their own adventure”.
Secondly, comics can’t ever be movies because of the visuals. Very, very few people in Hollywood (or the rest of the planet for that matter) can wear the skintight suits and look good. That’s why most comic movies feature molded rubber to different extents (Batman on one end, Spiderman on the other). And even those who can wear the skintight suits still look silly and late for ballet practice.
Also, the lighting is harder to get in film that we easily get in comics, and forget about the inset picture (like when the page is a large head speaking, with the scenes in the shadows of the head). The first Hulk movie tried to use juxtaposed pictures; remember how bad that was? Yet no one would think it was that bad in a comic.
I could go on about this but hope I’ve briefly made my point. Though the more I think of it, the more I realize I’ve barely touched on any of this. I could make this an entire book chapter, and while I may one fine day, I don’t think I’ll do,