YOU'D THINK ADAP‘nNG A COMIC BOOK FOR FILM would be a marriage made in heaven, but comics and film have a troubled history. Despite the great source material comics offer - dynamic visuals, epic story arcs, street smart humour, sensational themes — filmmakers have got it so wrong so many times fans have become pessimistic, while non-readers have been confirmed in their prejudices that comics are 'adolescent trash'. It's hard to blame either group, though. Take a look at some of the celluloid crimes committed against comics: Super Girl, The Swamp Thing, The Phantom, Judge Dredd, Tank Girl, Spawn, Batman And Robin and Howard The Duck to name but a few bad films that bear little relation to their print media cousins.
The above films are all Hollywood adaptations of comics. Seeking to secure returns on its hefty budgets, Hollywood simplifies and trivialises the subject matter. Thus, Marvel Comics' satirical, surreal and short-lived cult title from the 705, Howard The Duck, became a dumb kids' adventure (with laughable special effects). Comics, on the other hand, are loaded with meaning found in sub-texts and allegorical plots
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(Howard, the intelligent duck, experienced fear and loathing running for president on the election campaign trail).
Nevertheless, there have been a number of success stories over the years, films that have managed to distil the essence of comics for the big screen: Superman and its sequel, the two Tim Burton Batman ﬁlms, The Crow, Men In Black and The Matrix (not adapted from a comic but story-boarded by a comic artist). To that list you can add X-Men, arguably the first successful big screen adaptation of a Marvel comic (its rival, DC Comics, has fared far better with its Superman and Batman franchises). And, if you exclude the spoof Mystery Men, X-Men is also the first successful adaptation of a superhero team comic.
Though not initially Marvel's lead team title (The Fantastic Four was the first, portrayed on screen in an atrocious, never. seen film by Roger Corman), The Uncanny X- Men is now the company's best-selling tide. Since its debut in 1963, it has spawned multiple spin-offs (X-Men - as opposed to the Uncanny sister mag - X-Factor, X—Man, Generation X, etc) and sells upwards of
thirteen million issues ead'i year. Bad: in the 605, under the leadership of comics guru, Stan Lee, Marvel reinvented superhero comics, grounding its heroes in day-to-day reality. Thus, the uncanny teenage mutant heroes studied in school by day and fought
super-powered villains by night. It's a formula that has provided Marvel with sales of over two billion comics in 75 counties in 25 language-S.
Unsurprising, then, - that the X-Men film should attract attention, discussion and criticism in equal measures from fans around the world. Even before the film went into production, the internet was rife with gossip. For X-Men there is a tightrope to walk between interpretation of the source material and fidelity to it: on the one hand the film needs to be accessible to a non-comic book reading audience, on the other it needs to satisfy fans. ’I wanted to respect the X-Men history for the fans,’ says director Bryan Singer (best known for The Usual Suspects). 'I also insisted