2009 Breakdown! - Mania.com


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2009 Breakdown!

Is this the end of the Comic-To-Film?

By Rob M .Worley     December 31, 2009
Source: Mania

Comics2Film has, on and off for twelve years, provided expert commentary to various news outlets all over the world. Year-after-year someone will put the question to us: "Isn't this trend over? Haven't all the popular comics been done?"

As we close out 2009 we have to admit that our favorite niche subject has seen more ebb than flow.

Usually at the end of the year the successful studios are talking up their blockbuster year and usually they're pointing to some comic book superhero as helping them make their bank. But this year Warner Bros and Fox, the two studios with the biggest comic-based tentpoles are jockeying for top year-end position. And guess what? Neither are crediting their disappointing C2Fs as being part of the winning seasons.

Let's take a look back at what has gone wrong for comic book movies in 2009



Based on Greg Rucka and Steve Leiber's fine comic of the same name, this movie was actually filmed in in the first half of 2007. Then Warner Bros put it on ice until this past September. Rotten Tomatoes scores the movie at a dismal 6%. It took in a mere $10.3 million at the box office. There's no other way to call this than "failure."



C2F actually had high hopes for this adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's classic Manga. Produced by Imagi (who made the highly enjoyable ''TMNT') and directed by David Bowers (of the well-received 'Flushed Away'), 'Astro Boy', on paper, seemed like it could be a potential winner. The resulting film was a visually inventive, mildly diverting but a mostly emotionally-bankrupt experience that pales in comparison to better animated fare from Pixar, DreamWorks and Blue Sky. It scored 48% on Rotten Tomatoes but took in less than $20 million at the box office, which is bad news for the already-cash-strapped Imagi.



Based on the intriguing graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele, this one fared better than 'Whiteout'. It drew a 40% score on Rotten Tomatoes and rang up over $38 million in receipts. It's still considered a dud especially factoring in Bruce Willis' past cachet.



Perhaps the most eagerly-awaited (and simultaneously dreaded) comic adaptation of all time, Zack Snyder's 'Watchmen' phenomenon is difficult to sum up. The movie is amazing in parts and tedious in others. C2F didn't love it so much as we sat there wanting to love it. But, as Alan Moore predicted, the elements that made the graphic novel a watershed event couldn't be translated to screen. The reason? The comics are important because of the way they pushed and expanded the then-narrow boundaries of the comics medium. Still the film is the best-reviewed comics adaptation of the year, scoring a positive 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. The box office didn't quite measure up with a $108 million take against a significant budget. Artistically, it's the best C2F of the year, but we're also naming it our biggest disappointment.



20th Century Fox hoped to spark a new franchise with a live-action adaptation of the mega-popular manga and anime series. Still, the movie seemed doomed from the start with it's middling cast, watered-down characters and seemingly modest budget. At the end of the day it was shunned by fans of the franchise and failed to appeal to anyone else as well. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 13% and a wilting box office of less than $10 million, 'Dragonball Evolution' is the C2F's loser of the year.




Fans were fairly open to the return of Hugh Jackman in this continuation of 20th Century Fox's bankable 'X-Men' franchise. An added bonus: a host of new Marvel Universe characters including Gambit and Deadpool. The potential for a big winner was there after the disappointing 'X-Men: The Last Stand'. Sadly, the resulting movie was a mediocre affair, falling somewhere between the third and the first film in terms of quality. It scored a mere 36% on the Rotten Tomatoes meter. Adding injury was the curse of the pirates. The movie hit the web two weeks early and damaged the box office tale. Nevertheless the movie is the best-performing comic adaptation, raking in nearly $180 million and prompting talk of more sequels ('Wolverine' goes to Japan) and spin-offs ('Deadpool' starring Ryan Reynolds). While we can't really declare a winner for the 2009 season, we'll wholeheartedly say that 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' is the least losery C2F of the year.


2009 is definitely a stumbling year for the comic book movies. If we extend the window back another month 'Punisher: War Zone' and 'The Spirit' become part of dismal picture.

So is it all over for the comic book movie?

Not hardly. 2010 will bring a huge slate of movies, not the least of which is 'Iron Man 2'. Add to that potential winners like 'Scott Pilgrim vs The World', 'Jonah Hex', 'Kick-Ass', 'The Losers' and 'Dead of Night' and there's plenty of stuff to look forward to. And on the further horizon we have 'Thor', 'Green Lantern', 'Captain America', 'Batman 3' and 'the Avengers' in the pipeline to restore the C2F trend to its former glory.

Long live the comic book movie!


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Dazzler 12/31/2009 8:33:29 AM

Watchmen is still the best movie of the year for me.

Wolverine is in my top ten also.

DB was ok, they should have camped it up more and make it ultra violent for fans.  Did they not watch the series? 



Shellhead88 12/31/2009 11:32:15 AM

I agree that Watchmen was an exellent adapation of the comic. I think we will see great things from Zack Snyder. I just don't think its a movie that everyone can get into.

deadcowboy138 12/31/2009 11:56:13 AM

Here we go with the army of Watchmen apologists ganging up on another internet columnist.  Just because a film adapts a comic book in painstaking detail doesn't mean it's actually any good.  At the end of the day, the film is a noble failure.  Some of the elements from the comic translated very well, and others simply fell flat.  But, there was no way it wasn't going to get made, one way or another, and it certainly could've been worse.  But, at the end of the day Watchmen is a comic about comics.  It's not a blueprint for a film.  The only reason it got made was that everyone seems to think that a work of art (in any medium) isn't somehow fully realized until it's made into a movie. 

gauleyboy420 12/31/2009 11:59:47 AM

Watchmen is in my top ten, but not the best of the year... I'll reserve that for District 9.

Watered down-Wolverine not even in my top 50... if I even saw that many movies this year. I tried to like it, but the more I think about it, the more I despise it. It's only redeeming parts were Ryan Reynolds and Liev Schrieber

noahbody 12/31/2009 1:52:32 PM

Having never read Watchmen, I got the UDC and thought is was a good story and movie, kept me interested until the end.

I enjoyed Wolverine also.

 I have not read comics in a long time, so I have no attachments. I think that is a problem for a lot of people,  they will never be pleased, I enjoyed them.... but I had no baggage.  IMHO


jsmulligan 12/31/2009 4:18:50 PM

I really don't get the hate directed at Wolverine.  Was it the greastest thing EVAR!!!11!1!!!?  No.  But it wasn't horrible either.  I'd rate it higher than mediocre (say... 7 out of 10), and definitely better than X3.  I thought it fit right in with the rest of the movies.  Sure, some of the changes of things from the comics could annoy some people, but the movie universe has already differed so much from the comics that people should be over that by now. 

invisage 1/1/2010 5:45:29 AM

Have to agree with Noahbody. Never read the Watchmen graphic novel but watched the movie and thought it was pretty good. Defantly one of my top 10 of the year.

Wolverine was only so-so. Passed the time but couldnt really sit through it again.

Still havent had a chance to watch Astro yet, waiting for DVD to pass judgement on it but from the previews I think it should be ok.

The rest... well lets just say Im glad its 2010 :)

kwsupes 1/1/2010 5:47:09 AM

I didn't hate Wolverine either, it was a pretty fair to mediocre film, but I wound up liking it more than I thought I would. I have high hopes for Iron Man 2 and the Losers the rest of the new comic movies I am not so sure about, but I hope Jonah Hex does well, but I think that is the one moive that could either be fantastic or dreadful. With Kick Ass you know what you are getting a modestly budgeted movie of an obscure comic book that is going to appeal to t he hardcore fans of comics and maybe even a few action geeks, but because of the extreme violence probably not much more than that. However I think that niche will be enough to make the movie a hit and at the very least I think it will develop a cult following. Well we will soon see. Happy New Year Maniacs.

everdreaded 1/1/2010 8:33:51 AM

many of my non comic oriented friends ask me what the big debate is ove comics to film debates and i simply tell them its the same for all literary to moving imagery translation. Its relative and subjective.

Moviemakers are strange folk. they will always consider every populr alternate form of entertainment a BASE to exploit. In my opinions the myriad of comics being eyed for film translation wont work mainly cause of the audience. Even on an introducinng the unoriented audiences, the stories and characters are are hard sell to new viewers.

Its why i put my stock in characters that can be introduced without the baggage of being popular characters. Blade showed that, a character that at the time about 4 out of 5 people knew nothing about. But he had a lot of leeway for reinvention, development, he had some stance in the MU without being as hindered by expectations and thats why the character enjoyed a good modicum of success on film(Despite the sad close to it by the 3rd movie)

But Hollywood needs to learn that though its understandable to cater these comics to film for the audiences, these films need to hold onto the essential core of what made the book/anime apealing.

DRAGONBALL...i was skeptical from day one. Astroboy was ok but I knew it was not going to be faithful to the original vision mainly because of the masses it was being geared to.

And WOLVERINE...Wolverine is going to be interesting..to me its on its way like the xmen franchise to being the new BATMAN franchise fiasco...they are trying to cover every aspect of the mutant universe in less than 7 movies and to me its becoming dick riculous.. they are trying to hard and its showing and it'll suffer..mark my words.

CaptAmerica04 1/1/2010 8:39:33 AM

Long live SPELL CHECK on Mania.com!  Oh, wait.  That seems to have died, too.

Seriously, guys.  I don't want to be an anal-retentive prick about it, but it's hard to take a website seriously when it is SO riddled with grammatical and spelling errors that are easily fixed with a quick read-through.

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