Comic books and cinema have long been a collaboration. Batman and Superman appeared in cinematic serials as early as the 1940’s, and there’s been a steady trickle since then. When Bryan Singer’s X-Men became a box-office, star making hit studios were quick to dust off old scripts and hurry to secure every marketable title not already in production. Since then there’s been enough hits to keep the trend alive, and the number of unused properties is getting small…and yet these ten comics have somehow slipped through the net.
10. Morbius the Living Vampire
Vampires have seen a resurgence in recent years, but have been resurrected not as a monsters or tragic figures but teenage love interests. The stage is open for for a return to the vampires that dominated cinema for its first 100 years. Morbius is an already established character, and gothic superheroes have made for good cinema in the past (most notably The Crow). Already missing the boat as the primary villain in Blade 2 and Spider-man 4, the character hasn’t been mentioned by film press since. A gritty, violent and potentially scary action film has massive potential and could bridge the gap between different genres.
9. Locke & Key
Seriously Fox, are you stupid? Anyone who’s seen the trailer for the series based on this remarkable set of graphic novels can attest to how intriguing and well made it was, yet they passed due to it being unmarketable. With ‘The Walking Dead’ pulling in viewers, more than one graphic novel has been suggested for television in the past year, and this was set to be next. Now the road is open for a bigger budgeted version to hit the big screen. Set around the mysterious Key House, a family recovering from tragedy discover a number of keys that can unlock any number of things. The Death Key renders its user a ghost, the Gender Key flips their gender, the Head Key gives them access to their subconscious to take and add things as they see fit…the list goes on and on. Around this concept is a murder mystery, a ghost story and a coming of age story, all expertly woven together. This story is ripe for the picking.
8. Doctor Strange
There have been a few attempts to bring some supernatural heroes onto the screen, such as the limp adaptation of Ghost Rider, but none of them have been willing to break the super-hero narrative mold. During the 1960s and 1970s is was widely believed that the trippy visuals in the ongoing series was indication that Marvel artists spend their days face-down in a pile of LSD, and since then it has tackled darker themes such as demonic possession. Doctor Strange’s near unlimited power also opens new avenues for the film to take, giving good opportunity to create a strong character arc.
7. The Boys
The perfect antidote for those who’ve had their fill of spandex clad, holier-than-thou crime fighters, The Boys positions the traditional heroes as drug-fuelled, sex crazed lunatics who rely on PR and marketing to keep them in public favour. Enter Bill the Butcher. Wee Hughie, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman and The Female, a small government backed group whose job is to keep the heroes in line and, when required, take them out. With the potential to be the more violent, more offensive Kick-Ass, this is a cult classic waiting to happen, helped along by the casting of Simon Pegg as Wee Hughie (who is physically based on the actor).
6. Danger Girl
Studio heads make the decision to greenlight a movie based on one key factor: whether or not he can be marketed. Working on that logic, this one is a no brainer. It’s Charlie’s Angels style ass-kicking girls on Indiana Jones style treasure hunts with Bond style action and gadgets – how could any studio possibly pass that up? There’s any number of directors suited to this kinda action and great cast of characters (including a love interest modeled on Bruce Campbell and a leader based on Sean Connery) – this is a franchise waiting to happen.
5. Usagi Yojimbo
There’s a few ways this property could be approached – stylised CGI, hand-drawn animation or stop motion – either way, it should be done. Whilst it may draw immediate comparisons to Kung Fu Panda, it would stand as more than a typical action movie with Eastern flavour. ‘Usagi Yojimbo’ is set at the beginning of the Edo period of Japan, with the titular samurai rabbit traveling as a ronin. The comic series draws heavily on the works of Akira Kurosawa and other significant Japanese pop icons, and could be a brilliant tribute to the master of cinema.
4. The Savage Dragon
Comic book adaptations have been in vogue for over a decade now, meaning that practically every angle and approach to making them has been touched on at least once. ‘The Savage Dragon’ is one of the few titles that could still provide something fresh – something that comic book savvy movie-goers could now appreciate.
Dragon exists in a world that is unashamedly cartoonish. An amnesiac super-powered individual found in a burning field with green skin and a fin on his head, Dragon is recruited into the police force. The characters are crazily proportioned, the action is stupidly over-the-top and characters cover a range of Batman-esque gadget uses to building sized fish-monsters and a guy whose power is spraying crap from his hands. The trailer writes itself – costumed villains rob a bank, try to make their getaway when a police car arrives on scene…out steps the enormous, green hero complete with aviator sunglasses.
Whilst the wetsuit warrior is generally seen as a joke in the among comic readers, mainly due to his lame-ass powers of underwater breathing and communicating with fish, it doesn’t rule out his potential for a decent big screen outing. Special effects have arrived at the point where undersea battles could look radical, and the increasing awareness of environmental issues and devastating tsunami’s can give the concept of a water based superhero an interesting modern perspective. Aquaman fighting of villains in the midst of a city leveling tidal wave sounds like a damn cool action sequence, but to pull it off we need an effects orientated director with experience of filming underwater. James Cameron, perhaps?
2. The Sandman
Few comic book movies have been stalled in pre-production as long as The Sandman. Like all good works by Neil Gaiman, it crosses the borders between fantasy and reality, dealing with the imprisonment and later adventures of Dream, the anthropomorphic personification of sleep. Rich in character and subtext, the cult series explores a range of ideas across a variety of places and realms. Attempts to get the dream-master onto the big screen have been underway for for over ten years, with Gaiman himself rejecting many of the scripts. Currently both James Mangold and Eric Kriple are looking to bring it to HBO as an ongoing series.
1. Y: The Last Man
This project, about the last man alive on an Earth populated by women, has been in circulation since 2008, with less than ideal names attached. Series author Brian K. Vaughn did provide a script, but direct David Curaso gave it a rewrite with the intention of simplifying it. The Disturbia and Eagle Eye director also intended to cast Shia Lebouf in the lead as Yorick, only for the former potential A-Lister so say that he thought the character was to similar to his role in Transformers (further cementing the fact that Lebouf is a substantial moron). Not that this would be a problem since he plays every role the same anyway.
At present the film is on hold, with Loius Letterier circling it with mind to adapt it for television. Hopefully when it does finally emerge we have a director with a good understanding of subtlety.