Top 7 Comics That Should Be Movies
I’ve got a pretty good knowledge of comics. I’ve been reading them since Blue Beetle and Booster Gold were squabbling in the JLA and Judge Dredd had an Italian cleaning lady. I used to be young, and now I’m not quite old. Therefore I know things. Things about comics. And, since I work for Best For Film, things about movies. But, to be honest, mostly comics.
Superhero films are a safe bet in the film industry. They’re commercially viable, appealing to the four golden quadrants: Under 25s, over 25s, men and women. They’re film treatments with a built-in fanbase. They’re box office gold.
The big movie studios will plunder comics for movies for the forseeable future. If a comic appeals to the four quadrants they’ll get their hands on it. But which ones should they go for?
#7 – We3 by Grant Morrison
This is a beautifully rendered and resplendently moving one-off graphic novel from DC Vertigo featuring three bio-engineered superweapons that also happen to be a cat, a dog and a little rabbit. They escape from a government facility and try to make their way back to the real world, fighting conflicting urges to recover their cosy domestic roots and kill everything in sight in their mangadelic weapon suits. An unusual but cinematic comic. The movie rights were sold and in 2010 producer Don Murphy was doing the rounds in Hollywood, but current reports are unclear – the movie has either stalled or is in a holding pattern.
#6 – Top 10 by Alan Moore
Comic lovers (and, by now, most movie lovers) will be familiar with UK comics legend Alan Moore. He’s the creator of Watchmen (which, nearly 25 years on from its creation, never leaves the top 10 comic bestseller lists). He’s also the Big Hairy God behind V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell – all of which were turned into movies with varying degrees of success. If you didn’t like the films, don’t blame Alan. He didn’t either. He insisted his name be removed from the credits and ensured all royalties were paid to the relevant artists rather than himself.
Of all his as-yet unplundered comics, the most likely contender for the big screen is Top 10. In Alan Moore’s own words, it’s a cross between superheroes and Hill Street Blues. Take a city populated entirely by superheroes, right down to the worlweary guy selling you stuff in the newsagent. It takes a very special kind of person to keep the citizens of that city in check. That’s right, a cop.
‘Top 10’ refers to a precinct of superpowered cops who keep their citizens in check. Top 10’s greatness lies in the juxtaposition of inventively hilarious superhero encounters with the worn cynicism of full-time police dogs who have seen and heard it all.
#5 – 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello
Comics writer Brian Azzarello specialises in hardboiled modern film noir. He’s equally at home depicting big-money mafioso businessmen, crummy dives infested with broken gamblers looking for the next big lose, and the vicious circle of poverty and crime in the ghettoes of Chicago and LA. Azzarello’s ability to sniff out and cauterise society’s open wounds is fortunate, because 100 bullets takes you through human failings on every level of society.
The plot? Imagine yourself to be an abused housewife, or an eleven year old kid whose Crip brother has asked him to store a gun or two, or a gambler who’s failed to make payback with some very important people. Now imagine an old guy in a sharp suit takes you aside and offers you a gun. A very special gun. With untraceable bullets. He’s given you the chance to completely change your life and get away with it. The only downsides? Your own moral code, or what’s left of it, and the qualm that you don’t entirely know who this man is working for.
Imagine an action adventure movie that takes all of The Wire and folds it into itself, and you’ve got 100 Bullets.
#4 – Y The Last Man by Brian Wood
‘Y’ refers not to the question but the male chromosome. A terrible plague sweeps the earth, and in a matter of days only two males are left standing – a young indie escape artist who models himself on Harry Houdini, and his pet monkey. All he wants to do is cross the world to find his estranged girlfriend in Australia. All the rest of the (female) world wants to do is kill him, sell him, breed him, experiment on him and draw him into plans chosen by anyone but himself. As thoughtful as it is fast-paced, this one’s unmissable. Even my mum liked it, and my boyfriend – and they’re tough cookies.
#3 – Fables by Bill Willingham
A consistent New York Times bestseller, Fables is one of the longest running series in the DC Vertigo imprint. It has received over a dozen Eisner Awards to date including for Best Writer, Best New Series, and numerous wins for Best Serialized Story, and was a 2009 Hugo Award nominee for Best Graphic Story.
Fables imagines that all the characters from storybooks are real as real can be, and living among us, with all of their powers intact. From Snow White and the Big Bad Wolf to Goldilocks and Little Boy Blue, these beloved characters are alive and well – but they’ve been exiled from the land of fairy tales. Escaping the mysterious Adversary, they have relocated to a magically camouflaged New York City neighbourhood known as Fabletown. To survive in the mundane world, the Fables will have to fight for their happily ever after.
The latter volumes in the series get a touch soap opera, but – even if not translated word for word to the big screen – Fables would make a strong and coherent starting premise for a movie.
#2 – DMZ by Brian Wood
Ooh, lookee – Brian Wood crops up again! DMZ‘s a comic from DC Vertigo. THE best comic to make into a movie. And not a superhero in sight. The plot has America’s worst nightmare (well, apart from that one) come true in a future very near to our present. ‘DMZ’ does, of course, stand for ‘demilitarized zone’. The US military and National Guard have their hands full with military action overseas, and the American government fatally underestimates the power and organisation of grassroots ‘homegrown’ militias across the 50 states. Civil War ensues, with a line being drawn in the sand. That line being Manhattan – or, as the world now knows it, the DMZ. Manhattan devolved into city blocks of self-governing tribes with the world looking on from a helicopter. What’s not to love?
#1 – Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan
Runaways is an award-winning Marvel comic – and yes, of course it’s going to be made into a movie. If you don’t already know you can say you heard it here first. Featuring some of the best art and scripting around, the runaways in question are a disparate bunch of teenagers who don’t like each other very much and forced to meet once a year because their parents, like, for some reason, insist on going to some annual charity event. One year, the kids spy on their parents and discover they form ‘The Pride’, a super secret sect of supervillains who control Los Angeles. Sucks to be everyone else! Needless to say, the teenagers aren’t very happy about being lied to by their parents…
As a comic, Runaways features some of the highest quality art and writing around. Joss Whedon was so enamoured of it he wrote the second series along with Michael Ryan.
As a movie, the industry gears are already turning. Filming is going ahead March – July 2011. Stay tuned!