02 August 2007

Comicon and comics movies

I'm excited about the forthcoming release of the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' novel Stardust, in spite of the trailers which portray it as a pretty conventional Hollywood movie. Mr Gaiman has repeatedly reassured readers of his blog that the picture is charming and true to the spirit of his work.

This picture of the screenwriter and her family attending the premiere really reassures me, though, for reasons I don't think I could explain.

Mr Gaiman's assurances are important to me, and he observes that movie studios could be smarter about how important this stuff is to the success of their comics adaptations. In particular, he talks about how Comicon can be an acid test of fan reactions.

The time that I saw it backfire worst was when I was on a Vertigo panel and [Vertigo editor] Karen Berger announced to a hall of 4,000 people, “The biggest news item I've got is that Warner Bros. is going to make a John Constantine movie!” And the whole hall erupted in cheering. And then she said, “And he's going to be played by Keanu Reeves!” And the whole hall went, “Oh ....” And that was it. It ended at that moment for that film, and honestly, if anyone from Warner Bros. had been in the hall, they should've gotten on the phone to say, “The Keanu Reeves thing is not going to work. Can we give him money to go away?” But nobody did, and the fans had washed their hands of Constantine before it came out because they knew it wasn't the thing they wanted to see. Generally speaking with comics, the closer the movie is to the source material in terms of look and feel, the better it works. And the more studios assume that you can put Batman in a pink costume and nobody will notice, the more everybody notices. They never quite figure that one out.
Wil Wheaton continues the theme.
The article mentioned something about a movie called Watchmen, which was about “a slain superhero.”

Oh for fuck's sake. Why not just call Star Wars a movie about “a captured princess”?

Actually, that's not bad enough. It's like calling Citizen Kane a movie about a reporter working on a story.
If Hollywood really wants to do this right, and really doesn’t want to fuck it up, my advice is to listen to the focus group at Comic-Con. I mean, really listen, because if Hollywood fucks up Watchmen, there’s going to be a nerd riot so terrifying, it will be like a thousand studio executives cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
And as Scott Kurtz observes, Hollywood has faced this peril before.

No comments: