Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Comics Adapted to Film: Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Poster for Singer's
Superman Returns.
Over the past few months test images from the Superman Returns movie have been released over the internet. The movie was directed by Bryan Singer and released to lukewarm reviews in 2006. It picked up from where the second Superman (released in 1980) movie ended. Personally, I enjoyed Singer's sequel although I thought its pace was slow at times.

Superman test suit from Burton's
Superman movie. Even the face of
the mannequin resembles Cage's.
Tim Burton was to originally direct Superman Returns, and Nicholas Cage was to be Superman instead of Brandon Routh who Singer casted. Images from the costumes that Burton was to use were released over the internet last month, and this month special affects designs were released from Singer's movie.

Doomsday from
DC Comics.
Most of the recently released images deal with costume designs. They are sketches and paintings, an attempt to visualize the style the movie was to take. What irked me, however, was that there was also a design of Doomsday. This character was the one who 'killed' Superman in the comics, back in 1992. I have never been a fan of the design of Doomsday in the comics and thought the idea was weak. It was like a 'hand of God' ending to a story line, where the author could not think of a better way to bring a story line to a conclusion so the most unthinkable action sweeps in mysteriously to usher in a closing. To me, the most logical conclusion to a story that dealt with Superman's demise involves a nemesis he has always faced, such as Luthor or more interestingly Batman, or he dies by his own selfless hands whilst saving Metropolis. All very heroic and befitting the character, unlike him being pummeled to death by a previously unknown space man on steroids. Regardless of how I felt, the character of Doomsday has remained popular by fans and a fixture in the Superman universe for the past 18 years.

Ill fated Doomsday design from
Singer's Superman Returns.
Now we know that Singer had a similar view of Doomsday as the fans did, except for how the character should be depicted. This is the problem. Singer's version of Doomsday is radically different from the comic character and reminds me more of a alien space marine that mated with a locust. While I admitted above that I am not a fan of Doomsday's character design from the comics, I still believe that when a character is adapted to a movie it should not be wholly removed from its origins. Otherwise, what is the point of adapting a character at all? This is all too common in Hollywood comic adaptations (eg. Daredevil). I will agree that it is often interesting to see some alterations to a character in both appearance and personality as it shows the outlook that the director or writer or actor had, but this cannot be taken too far as is the case with Doomsday. Otherwise you might as well call the character and movie something else. Artistic taste and vision can easily go too far in adapting a material into film, and the original source must always be referenced.

Perhaps I should be glad that Singer did not make a sequel after all.

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