And so we cometo the close to the year that was 2002, a year which proved to be a high-watermark for comic book movies and TV shows. T
his year standsin sharp contrast to 1997, the year that Comics2Film was born. In 1997,it took a brave soul to champion comic book movies. The films we were coveringthen were such funny book classics as Spawn, Steeland the deservedly-reviled Batman and Robin. The sole bright spotthat year was Men In Black. While it was barely recognizable as acomic book adaptation, it stood for a long period as the top-grossingadaptation of all time.
This year thegood stuff for comic fans far outweighed the bad. We don't have enough to do afull top 10 list, but we can sure talk about seven reasons that make us happy tobe leading the comic book movie charge.
#7 - WelcomeTo Eltingville - Evan Dorkin brought his razor, caustic wit to animatedlife on this pilot TV show for Cartoon Network. Nobody was safe as the show,focusing on a group of pop-culture obsessed geeks, turned a critical eye atfandom gone amuck. C2F enjoyed the half-hour segment a great deal.However, the TV version was quite a bit less mean-spirited then Dorkin's blackand white comic and failed to attract a significant audience. Nevertheless weview it as a bright spot this year.
#6 - JusticeLeague: Savage Time- Continuing the hit series Justice League,this 90 minute TV movie sent six of the magnificent seven back into time wherethe team battled Vandal Savage during World War II. A tribute to the world'sfighting men, the show aired on Veterans' Day weekend and featured an all-starguest-cast of DC's finest war heroes. The Blackhawks, Sgt. Rock and Steve Trevorwere among the nostalgic characters making an appearance.
#5 - G-MenFrom Hell - The live-action adaptation of Mike Allred's quirky comicfinally saw release this year. Although the campy film was screened two yearsprior at Comic-Con, it was only summer of 2002 in which a DVD version becameavailable to the masses. With a great cast, a funny script and art design rippedright from the pages of the comics, G-Men is a fun little filmthat is a must-see for Allred fans. As a bouns, the DVD also contains Allred'sindependent movie Astroesque, a prelude to Red Rocket 7which the comic creator wrote, directed and starred in.
#4 - Jeremiah- Based on Hermann Huppen's comic of the same name, this made-for-cable TVseries surprised everyone and became a big success for ShowTime. With J. MichaelStraczynski writing and Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner starring, fansflocked to this futuristic tale about a future world where an entire generationof children grew up as orphans. ShowTime has re-upped the show for a secondseason and added Sean Astin (The Two Towers) to the cast.
#3 - RoadTo Perdition - Director Sam Mendes transformed Max Allan Collins'graphic novel into a moving and beautiful film starring Tom Hanks. Although themainstream media spent way too much time clumsily overplaying the distinctionbetween comic books and graphic novels, the critical buzz on the movie helpedget the word out to the uninitiated: comics aren't just superhero stories forkids. While the film generated a ton of critical buzz early on, it still hasn'tcaught up with Ghost World as the most acclaimed comic adaptationof all time. Still, it remains to be seen what the Oscar nominations will bringto this outstanding adaptation.
#2 - BladeII - Visceral, scary and wall-to-wall action, this second installment inWesley Snipes' comic book franchise kicked all kinds of undead ass. DirectorGuillermo del Toro's love of comics is undeniable in this love-letter to comicbook fans. As with that other superhero movie, you can freeze-framemoments of this movie and identify the comic artists whose work is beingemulated. Fans may not have fully appreciated the excellent blend of CG andconventional effects, which were often so subtle and seamless that we were oftenhard-pressed to identify which was which.
On top of thegreat theatrical release, New Line released one of the best DVD sets of theyear: a two disc set which features some of the most extensive behind the scenesfootage ever seen. The DVD offers keen insights into the filmmaking and creativeprocess.
Snipes, Goyerand Del Toro crafted such an adrenaline-pumped film that we're already inwithdrawal waiting for Blade III.
#1 - Spider-Man- Well...duh. Everyone saw that coming.
And what can wesay about Spidey that hasn't already been said? The movie succeeds in so manyways it's hard to know where to begin. Spider-Man is what everyfanboy and girl wants in a superhero adaptation.
For one thing,it's true to the source material. The characterizations and tone of the movieare dead-on with the everyman hero that's graced the pages of Marvel comics foryears. He looks like our Spidey, not only in the the excellent movie costume,but in Sam Raimi's decree that the F/X team study the comics and make sure theclassic poses appear on screen.
The story,although adapted and tweaked, came right out of the comics. While big-screenorigin stories often mirror those of the funny books, this movie also used theclassic plot of the main villain conflict too.
While beingfaithful is something all fans crave, what everyone really wants is just a goodmovie. Spider-Man delivers there too. The feedback we heard fromnon-readers was almost as enthusiastic as that of the hard-core fans: the moviehad a great story that everyone could relate too.
While folksoutside of comic fandom may have learned something from Road To Perdition,it seems they also got a lesson from Spider-Man. Comics, superherostories or not, are a medium for telling dynamic, exciting, relatable storiesthat everyone can enjoy.
As cool as 2002has been, it's pretty clear that things haven't peaked yet. Check out thisblockbuster line-up for 2003: Daredevil, Bulletproof Monk,X-Men 2, The Hulk and The League ofExtraordinary Gentlemen. That's just the movies. On TV we'll see Spider-Man,Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tutenstein, AThousand Nights and more. There'll also be imports like Asterixand Obelix and Blueberry. We may even see Lady Death,Starman, Night Thrasher and other cool stuff.
Whatever thefuture holds, we're happy to have seen a great year like 2002 and to have been Comics2Filmbefore comics-to-films were cool!