10 Movies That Are Totally Different From The Comics They're Based On – Screen Rant

Comic movies have brought the best books to the big screen, but some ignore their source material and are totally different from the comics.
Unforeseen circumstances have altered the course of recent comic book movies like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but long-time comic book fans can recall other times that comic adaptations went off script. Despite having a wealth of comic stories to pull from, some movies opt to completely ignore their source material.
From baffling unfunny movies like Howard the Duck to dulled-down superhero movies like Fantastic Four, totally ignoring the comics can have good consequences, but they are usually always disappointing. Though adaptations require changes no matter what, some comic book movies changed so much that they were virtually unrecognizable.
While not the most popular comic of all time, the short-lived series Wanted was an indie sensation that gave viewers a different view of superheroes and supervillains. The movie followed a young man who learns he is the son of a skilled assassin and joins their ranks to recover the Loom of Fate.
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The basic framework was there in the film, but the Angelina Jolie vehicle dropped most of what made the book so charming. The miniseries was a send-up to supervillains and was often compared to Watchmen in the way it recontextualizes its comic book tropes. However, the movie was bogged down in the action and added an unnecessary MacGuffin that distracted from the character-driven narrative.
So much of the comic book landscape was untouched in the mid-'80s and the choice to adapt the Howard the Duck comics left many audience members scratching their heads. The titular fowl is transported from Duckworld to earth and must team up with a pair of humans to stop aliens from invading the planet.
Now most remembered for being a family film that was way darker than advertised, Howard the Duck lacked the sarcastic zeal that made the comics so memorable. Howard was transformed from a rude miscreant to a lovable character, and it lacked any of the parody that the comics were known for.
Before his recent appearance in the MCU, only Marvel Comics fans knew about the lumbering swamp creature, and Man-Thing is finally getting mainstream attention. The 2005 movie is set in the swamps of Louisiana and sees a shady oil company terrorized by a deadly swamp monster of indigenous lore.
The horror direction of the character was commendable, but the movie turned Man-Thing from an empathetic creature into a straight-up villain. The movie brought the monster to life with charming effects, but it ignored his comic book motivations and completely disregarded the Man-Thing's fear-based powers.
Lee Falk's classic comic strip The Phantom predates many of DC and Marvel's most famous heroes, but it took until 1996 for the purple-clad icon to get his day in the sun. Inheriting the mantle of The Phantom, a man becomes the protector of the jungle and must stop a corporation from wielding magic skulls to take over the world.
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Though the film did capture the tone of the old strips to perfection, the decision to add magic completely changed the character. The Phantom was never superpowered, and instead was a vigilante like Batman who used his wits to outsmart criminals. Obviously pressured to change the story to fit the narrative of other superhero stories, The Phantom felt muddy because it couldn't commit to any of its ideas.
Many comic book adaptations use the books as a jumping-off point for bigger ideas, but the notorious flop Barb Wire seemed intent on simplifying its source material. Barb Wire is a nightclub owner who moonlights as a crime fighter in one of the few remaining free cities in an increasingly fascist future U.S.
Meant as a vehicle for Pamela Anderson, the movie made so many changes right off the bat that it might as well not have been a Barb Wire adaptation at all. The comic is set in an alternate universe that is overrun with alien technology and was nothing like the cheap post-apocalyptic setting of the movie. Cheap is the operative word, and the Barb Wire comics were used as a marketing ploy for what was simply a cynical cash-in.
The early-'00s adaptations of The Fantastic Four comics were anything but marvelous, but at least they had fun with the source material, unlike the dismal 2015 movie. Using the Ultimate Fantastic Four series as a guide, the movie retells the origins of the team who gain their powers during an accident involving interdimensional portals.
Crashing as one of the lowest-rated Marvel movies of all time, Fantastic Four seemed to almost be embarrassed to be a superhero flick at all. The movie completely ignores the energetic tone of the comic, and the characters are hollow shells of The Fantastic Four that fans know and love. What's more, the characters rarely actually use their powers, and the entire thing had a drab and dull feeling.
DC Comics' resident gunslinger wasn't necessarily screaming for a film adaptation at the beginning of the '10s, but Jonah Hex was nevertheless delivered to a mostly befuddled audience. With one half of his face permanently scarred, a Civil War veteran is offered the chance to clear his name if he tracks down a notorious wanted criminal.
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The casting of Josh Brolin in the role was stroke of genius, and the general plot is ripped straight from the series, but that is where the similarities sadly end. The writers of the film shot themselves in the foot bad adding a supernatural spin on the story, and gifting the cowboy with mystical powers. The Jonah Hex comics were always grounded in reality, but the movie threw all of that away for a silly plot twist.
The comic version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is one of Alan Moore's essential works, but the movie failed to capture the essence of the book because it totally ignored key elements. Set in the Victorian Age, the story follows a group of literary heroes who must stop a dastardly villain from launching the world into war.
Though characters like The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll, and Mina Harker were present in the film, they had been sadly dulled down from Moore's original vision. The plot was nothing like the plot from the first volume of the comic, and the writing lacked the dark and biting edge that Moore gives to all of his works. Overall, The League was trying to create a franchise without understanding what made the comics great in the first place.
Frank Miller's iconic run on Daredevil helped turn the Man Without Fear from a silly superhero to a bona fide star, and the 2003 film tried to replicate some of that success. Matt Murdock is blinded as a child in a freak accident but is aided by his other senses. Eventually becoming the superhero Daredevil, Murdock attempts to bring down the notorious Kingpin.
Daredevil's biggest problem was that it tried to do too much too soon. It adapts Murdock's origin story well, but immediately gets off track when trying to bring Daredevil #181 to life. The largest change was made in Bullseye's character, and he was transformed from a frightening psychopath to a cheesy villain with a scar on his forehead.
The Mask is a rare comic book flick that most viewers don't even know comes from a comic at all, and the changes were enough to practically make them two separate franchises. Stanley Ipkiss is a mild-mannered bank teller who discovers an ancient mask that grants him strange powers.
The movie was a smash hit that launched Jim Carrey into stardom, but it did so while completely changing the context of the comic it was based on. In the book, The Mask is an anti-hero who's cartoonish violence often leaves his enemies mangled, but the movie was decidedly softer. Both are strong in their own way, but the comic would be virtually unrecognizable to a fan of the movie, and vice versa.
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Dalton is a freelance writer and novelist from Orlando Florida. He currently lives in Los Angeles and pursues writing full time. He is an avid reader and film buff.


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