Adaptations

by Jinryu

I saw the trailer for the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past movie.

 

Potentially spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you don’t want to.

 

“Days of Future Past” was a story arc of the X-Men comics which I actually owned– I can’t remember when it dates back to, but it’s probably around 20 years old, because I owned that comic as a really young kid. First difference– it looks like another Wolverine movie with “other X-men” buzzing around in the background.  In the Days of Future Past Comics, Wolverine actually isn’t all that important– in fact, he gets roasted by a Sentinel (and his skeleton makes up back cover of the compilation).  The main character is more Sprite (Kitty Pride aka Shadowcat) But well, I can forgive the differences because all I have to do is just see the movie another chapter of X-Men storytelling– just ignore the title.

I’m not someone who often says things “the book was better than the movie” but I do feel that a movie version can miss the chance to bring out a lot of potential.  The difference is in the medium itself.  A book builds the idea in your imagination through the craft of the writing– metaphors and similes and all that kind of stuff that helps you build the idea in your head.  How you imagine a book playing out is probably very different from how the next person imagines it.

 

And that might be the limitation of the big screen– that this is just one interpretation of what’s written, which a given member of the audience might not agree with if he’s read the original.  I wouldn’t say that a movie is better than a book because in most cases, that’s like saying that one interpretation is better than the other– and that’s just opinion.

 

Nonetheless, there are a lot of things that do get glossed over because of the technical limitations of a medium, or rather, the expectations that we have of a medium.

 

For example: take a Batman or Wolverine movie, and compare their characters to comic books.  Camera angles for a movie can give you a lot of the same presentations as frames in a comic book– and especially in the case of Batman, music can make things pretty awesome.  But the actors are real-world people.   They’re not capable of moving in the ways that they do in comic books.

Batman doesn’t do cartwheels while throwing Batarangs.  In fact, essentially every actor who has ever played Batman seems totally incapable of throwing any convincing kicks.  This is all probably complicated by the fact that in the comics, Batman’s cape is always angled to display the kicking motion properly– in real life, kicking with a cape is really hard to make look cool because the cape will almost always look limp.

 

Wolverine?  Hugh Jackman is simply too tall and has too much correct posture.  Comic book wolverine is almost always hunched over, low to the ground like … well, a wolverine.  The best that movie Wolverine usually does is keep his head pointed down and look upwards at the camera.  But it probably wouldn’t look all that great for a pretty boy like Jackman to be hunched over all the time.  That’s the sort details in direction or acting though that will keep an X-men movie from going into the real accolades of character acting.

 

I remember thinking, back in college when I first played Marvel versus Capcom: Holy crap.  The way that Spider-man moves? Even the way that Venom crawls about?  This videogame was the first time I’d seen a lot of these Marvel characters move, and they were moving just how I imagined it.

 

But I guess that’s the difference between comic books, books and videogames, and the limitations of reality (and actors).

 

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