While the many Marvel and DC movies are a gimme as “comic book films,” there are several movies floating around out there that you likely had no idea are based on comic books or graphic novels. That’s right — not all comic book movies feature masks, capes and laser blasts.
Here are 10 comic book films that you didn’t realize were comic book films:
Road to Perdition (2002)
This Depression Era Tom Hanks vehicle is based on The Road to Perdition, a three-part comic series written by Max Allan Collins that is actually based on a Japanese comic book (manga) series called Lone Wolf and Cub.
Is the movie like the comic? The book and its spin-offs take place over the span of generations, while the movie takes place solely in 1931.
The Addams Family (1991, 1993, 1998)
Now, we all know that the movies are based on The Addams Family television series than ran from 1964-1966. But what you might not know is that the TV show was based on an ongoing, single-panel comic strip (so I’m being liberal with the term “comic book films” — sue me) by Charles Addams that was featured regularly in The New Yorker.
Is the movie like the comic? Yes, “the Addamses are a satirical inversion of the ideal 20th century American family: an eccentric wealthy aristocratic clan who delight in the macabre and are seemingly unaware, or do not care, that other people find them bizarre or frightening.” I think that perfectly describes both Charles Addams’s work and Barry Sonnenfeld’s interpretation.
30 Days of Night (2007)
What happens when vampires get wise to the fact that the most Northern town in the United States (Barrow, Alaska) experiences over a month of sundown? Exactly what you’d think. This Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith creation was originally written to be a movie. When that didn’t work out, they turned it into a comic. And when that did work out, they turned it back into a movie.
Is the movie like the comic? Director David Slade is very loyal to the source material in this highly underrated splatter-fest.
4. Ghost World (2001)
This nouveau cult-classic dark comedy focuses on the relationship between two teenage outsiders (Thora Birch as Enid, Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca) living in an unnamed suburban city.
Is the movie like the comic? The comic was written by Daniel Clowes, who also co-wrote the screenplay. The script translates the stark and dark nature of the source material and actually earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
5. Snowpiercer (2013)
Truly an international spectacle, this English language film, helmed by a South Korean director, stars American, English and South Korean actors, was filmed in Prague and is based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige. This high-concept piece of fiction takes place on a train that carries the last of humanity on a circuitous route over a post-global warming landscape.
Is the movie like the comic? While the events of the movie are similar to those in the graphic novel, the movie’s emphasis is on the discrepancies between the social classes, while the book focuses on ecology and limited resources.
6. A History of Violence (2005)
This crime thriller follows Viggo Mortenson as a mild-mannered diner owner who is thrust into the spotlight after brutally confronting two would-be robbers. Based on the graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke, the movie earned two Academy Awards for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and Best Supporting Actor (William Hurt).
Is the movie like the comic? The book has extended flashback scenes of the main character’s origins, and the two endings (no spoilers) are radically different.
7. Art School Confidential (2006)
Terry Zwigoff’s and Daniel Clowes’s second offering on this list is based on a four-page comic that appeared in the back of the comic book Eightball. The movie follows Jerome Platz as he navigates art school, New York City and random serial strangler attacks.
Is the movie like the comic? In tone only, as the strip is really more of a hilarious send-up of the various characters one might encounter upon attending an art school rather than having an actual plot.
8. Whiteout (2009)
Based on the four-issue limited series by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, the movie features Kate Beckinsale as a U.S. marshall stationed in Antarctica who is stalked by a masked killer trying to get a hold of plane cargo that crashed during the Cold War.
Is the movie like the comic? Re-castings, ownership rights changes and two different, uncredited director re-shoots robbed the film of the originality and grit of its source material.
9. RED (2010, 2013)
Red stands for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous.” The film’s all-star cast is led by Bruce Willis and follows a group of ex-operatives pitted against their former handlers.
Is the movie like the comic? Warren Ellis and Curly Hamner’s mini-series focused solely on the main protagonist, Paul Moses, and takes a dark tone in its narrative while the movie is a comedy featuring an ensemble cast.
10. V for Vendetta (2005)
This comic book film takes place in an alternate future where a neo-fascist regime has taken over England. V (Hugo Weaving), assisted by Evey (Natalie Portman), leads a anarchist revolution through large-scale terrorist attacks against the establishment. This movie gave us that iconic Guy Fawkes mask that can still be seen every Halloween.
Is the movie like the comic? Though adapted from Alan Moore’s and David Lloyd’s graphic novel, Moore’s dissatisfaction with the film resulted in him asking not to be credited or paid royalties, citing, “The story has turned into an American-centric conflict between liberalism and neo-conservatism, and abandons the original anarchist–fascist themes.” Moore says, “There wasn’t a mention of anarchy as far as I could see. The fascism had been completely defanged. I mean, I think that any references to racial purity had been excised, whereas actually, fascists are quite big on racial purity.”