Article by Khoa Tran
Movies Cannot Capture the True Essence of the Graphic Novels Written by the Authors – Entertainment – Movies
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Comic books like any form entertainment are meant to be enjoyed. Movies do the same thing except with sounds and moving pictures. Expectations have been high on both sides to please specific crowds. When comics and films meet there are two outcomes. It’s either a great success or a huge disappointment. The final deciding factor is in the hands of the fans to whether or not comic books and films should coexist or be separated completely.
In a comic the movement through time is controlled by the viewer rather than the film editor. Unlike films, whose frames seamlessly produce the illusion of movement, comic book panels produce jagged and disconnected moments. Comics are abstract and leave the reader more room to foreshadow future events. This is just one of the aspects films can seldom convey. The unbridled creativity of comics created a new medium for readers to enjoy. Unburdened by sales quotas and censorship, artists crafted comics with sophisticated storylines and themes. The faith placed upon the readers to spend time and effort on each panel gave way for more immersive experience. Scott McCloud, American cartoonist and theorist on comics as a distinct literary and artistic medium, states “Animation and filmmaking produce corporal illusions of movement, while comics place special emphasis on the viewer’s conceptual sensibilities and ability to create closure.” Film strips use motion to captured action-to-action and leaves no room for viewer to think ahead. Movies such as Ironman and Captain America are both straight forward action movies that leave no mysteries or a sense of foreshadowing throughout the plot of the story. Films have harder time transitioning to different plot points due to time and content constraint. However for comics the time spent on setting and plot can be stretch indefinitely as long as the author continues to write. Story plotlines tend to draw many readers’ attention, and without the in-depth storylines, which movies lack, the audiences feel they have been cheated with watered done content.
What’s even more disappointing is the way characters are revealed in comics compared to the movie adaptation. For the fans of any comic books series, the main characters are the central focus of attention. Movies, such as Green Lantern and The Incredible Hulk, lack deep care for introducing characters. Character depictions in movies are different from authors’ original design. Often changes in the film adaption are for actor comfort and workability of costumes. The writers of comics are only limited to their imagination with a paper and pencil and have no need to think about fashion. The only things on their minds are making the characters cool and fascinating. Everybody has their own view of what they think a super hero is, and it’s this difference that separates the producers from the film from the authors of the comic. Directors and producers have to make sacrifices due to financial considerations and talent of actors’ breadth of talent. The authors have conflicts as to which actor is suited better to portray the character. Take Batman for example. A multitude of different actors play his role, often at times not for the better, such as in Val Kilmer’s Batman Foreve and Christian Bale’s turn as Caped Crusader in Batman: Dark Knight. Both are good actors in their own right, but as actors they can never truly portray the character in any comic simply because the characters aren’t real. No one truly knows how the protagonist acts or behaves. It is up to the individual person to decipher what it means to be the main hero or heroine.
Some comic book authors don’t like the movie adaptations and it’s mostly due to matter of pride. There are exceptions such as Stan Lee. He loves seeing his work come to life on the big screen. His works include Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, X-Men, and much more. Aside from Stan Lee and few others authors sometimes feel like they have no control over the productions of the film adaptation. They have invested much time and effort to make the comic successful and popular only to see it become a degrading generic film that fans will hate. Authors in general believe the comics should remain the same in film as in print and not try to converted into something they aren’t. Movies can’t match the quality of storytelling in comics. For the fans of comics the story is very important. It is intricate as well as delicate. But the storytelling in films is too fast paced. In the film Thor, entire story subplots are skipped by not introducing the characters background that is very relevant to the story. Authors can’t bear the thought of seeing their precious work misinterpret. Sometimes compromises aren’t good enough for the authors. As a result producers and directors have different vision from authors. Alan Moore a comic book writer famous for his work on Watchmen and V for Vendetta stated how he feels about films “I find film in its modern form to be quite bullying. “It spoon-feeds us, which has the effect of watering down our collective cultural imagination. It is as if we are freshly hatched birds looking up with our mouths open waiting for Hollywood to feed us more regurgitated worms.” Films lack creativity and like Moore states the film industry waters down imagination. Films just focus the climax and action moments in comics to make it come alive and in doing so dilute the main storyline with just action sequences without a cause. Further examples come from Michael Bay’s Transformers movie series. His movies have over the topic action without purpose; it was made just for entertainment.
Movies do an okay job trying to adapt the comic book version, but it can never live up to the immersion only a comic can offer. Comics are the perfect blend of words and pictures, and no other media can take its place. Movies have their followings, and comics have theirs; they should remain separate until the day when the authors have full control of their work in the film industry.
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