With the upsurge in comic book movies these past few years, superhero fandoms have become much larger, and many of these new fans haven’t even picked up a comic book! And while it is undeniably exciting for long-time comic lovers to see their favourite heroes grace the silver screen, these fans come with preconceived notions about how a movie about a favourite character or storyline should go based on the original comics. Even though these hardcore fans can become very attatched to their favourite stories and characters, there have been a few instances in superhero movies where the adapted storyline is quite good, even arguably an improvement over the original! Here are three times when an adaptation might have changed the story for the better.
Marvel’s Big Hero 6 changed quite dramatically from the late 90’s comic series when it hit the big screen this month as the first hybrid production between the comic giant and Disney. The biggest difference is the appearance and personality of the ever-popular sidekick Baymax. While the creature we see in the film is cute, cuddly, and as soft as a marshmallow, fans of the original comics know that this adorable robot wasn’t always so adorable-or even a robot!
In the movie, Baymax is a white, puffy robot programmed to help the sick and injured, but in the comics he is a shapeshifter whose main form is a green monster. A science project of the main character, Hiro, the original Baymax was a bodyguard with a personality based of off Hiro’s late father, which may be why Hiro’s mother (who is still alive in the comics) winds up falling in love with him! While this is a great character for a comic book with dark undertones, it’s hard to imagine him joining the ranks of such loveable Disney sidekicks as Frozen’s Olaf, The Little Mermaid’s Flounder, and Beauty and the Beast’s Chip. Without giving anything away, the innocence and sole purpose of helping people of the movie’s Baymax provides a lot of the film’s heart and soul, so this character alteration may have been for the best.
Another Marvel flick released earlier this year, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, also wound up having some big differences from the story it was inspired by. The plot of the film was partially based on that of the famous Winter Soldier storyline in the comics. Much like in the movie, the story has James “Bucky” Barnes, the best friend of Steve Rogers, presumably killed during the war. In the comics, Bucky is discovered and captured by the Russian enemy. Suffering amnesia, he is forced to be an assassin for the Russian army (with a bionic arm being attached) thus becoming a foe of Captain America.
The storyline plays out in a similar fashion in the film, but with one major difference: Instead of being captured by the Russians during the war, Bucky is not revived for several decades, and when he is, the war is long over and Hydra, the group working to take down S.H.E.L.D.-the superhero agency which Captain America works for-is who he is forced to work for as the Winter Soldier. This change allows for the Winter Soldier to be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having he plotline contribute to the development of new storylines created for the MCU, while keeping the essence of the story and character intact. As a result, it pleases longtime fans of the character by allowing them to see him on the big screen, and raises the stakes for Cap in the fight to defeat Hydra by making it personal.
And, of course, when talking about improvements from page to screen, we can’t forget Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Canadian graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which also has a film counterpart that differs greatly from the original story. The tale centres around Scott Pilgrim, who, in his quest to be able to date the mysterious Ramona Flowers, must fight off her seven evil exes, has become sort of a recent cult classic. This is likely because of the quirky, offbeat tone of the story as well as the numerous playful winks at superhero and video game tropes. Of course, one would expect some changes between a six-book series and its film adaptation telling the full story, and those are present. Many minor plot points and subplots seen in the book series (like in-depth details on Scott’s relationship with his ex, Envy Adams, and Scott’s band trying to record an album) are omitted from the movie version.
However, it’s worth noting that the movie began production while the sixth and final instalment in the series was still in development. As a result, the end of the graphic novel series and the end of the movie wound up differing in several ways. In the last book of the series, Ramona breaks it off with Scott in order to “find herself” due to emotional baggage, while Gideon, one of her aforementioned evil exes, is putting an evil plot into action. Scott and Ramona fight Gideon, managing to defeat him in the end. The film alters this, having Ramona return to Gideon because of a chip he uses to alter her mind, and Scott fighting Gideon to win her back.
While both versions have the same result, that of Scott and Ramona reuniting and ending up together, the filmmakers’ decision to have Gideon exercise the control he as over Ramona’s mind via the chip adds tension to the story. This makes the climax a little more suspenseful and intriguing, and arguably improves the ending by making for a more satisfying payoff.
Do you think the changes made in these adaptations were an improvement or not? And are there any page-to-screen comic book adaptations that you think improved the story? Let us know in the comments bellow!