Source material has long been an issue of debate for decades now: From the musings of Homer’s poems to the latest comic book film adaptation in Iron Man 3. The average movie-goer could care less about what is or what isn’t in a comic book film, but for the formerly ridiculed culture of comic book/video game fanboys, that is an ultimate deal-breaker. Investing so much time and money into something that, in the eyes of fanboys (and girls) is so precious to have it disrespected and treated as just another random story hurts. Speaking as a fanboy, I can honestly say I have only found a few adaptations that were satisfying to me; LOTR 1-3, No Country for Old Men, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Sin City, Watchmen, V For Vendetta and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. However, there are several fanboys like myself that will issue with these particular films for several different reasons.
In the case of Watchmen, based on the award-winning graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the ending of the film was heavily debated by fans. In the novel, a large, squid-like alien is responsible for the devastation in New York City, created by Adrian Veidt in order to spur America and its enemies into ceasing their conflicts and banding together to fight a common threat. Instead, in the film, Veidt creates a device that emits massive energy, similar to the physiological makeup of Dr. Manhattan, effectively making him the one responsible for the wide scale destruction of NYC. In my opinion, even though this change was significant, it better served the story and gave Dr. Manhattan a more compelling and sensible reason to leave Earth for another galaxy. Dr. Manhattan understood that with his evolving power and capabilities, he would soon be labeled as a threat to the people and the government.
Another case where respect to source material is questioned is the Bourne series, written by Robert Ludlum, specifically The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. In the novels, Jason Bourne is an amnesiac with a particular set of skills trying to discover who he truly is. In the first novel, we learn who Bourne truly is, what his motivations were and how he became injured at the beginning: Bourne is David Webb, a Foreign Service officer who lost his wife and 2 young children when a plane carrying them was shot down. Consumed by grief and anger, he joins a CIA funded black-ops program called Medusa and gains a reputation of being ruthless and using very reckless tactics. During a mission in Vietnam, he finds out one of his men is a double agent. Without hesitation, he executes him. Following this, Webb becomes a college professor in New Hampshire until he called by the US gov’t to join Treadstone, the operation we heard mentioned often in the films. Through this, Webb is made into a rival assassin nicknamed ‘Cain’ for notorious assassin Carlos (The Jackal) in efforts to draw him out and kill him. He adopts the name Jason Bourne from the double agent he killed in Vietnam, a criminal from Australia.
This is all introduced in the first novel alone. The idea of an amnesiac found floating unconscious in the Mediterranean Sea is still intact in the first film. The protagonist’s name is still intact. Yet, so much is strikingly different. Marie Kreutz, played by Franka Potente is not a down on her luck gypsy as she is portrayed in the film. The character she is based on is named Marie St. Jacques, a French-Canadian government economist. St. Jacquesis taken hostage by Bourne outside the bank he visits. The antagonist Alex Conklin, Bourne’s handler,played by Chris Cooper, is not the antagonist at all. Conklin is one of the few people that assist Bourne during his plight in the first novel. Based on these few facts, the film would have been totally different in terms of tone.
In the second novel, The Bourne Supremacy, we find the hero living with Marie St. Jacques under his real name David Webb, a college professor in Maine who has seemingly recovered from the physical and psychological scars from his past. However, that peace does not last long as we find out a Communist official in the People’s Republic of China are using a Bourne impostor to ignite a hostile takeover of his country. Using the memory of his deceased first wife and children, they hatch a plan to kidnap Marie to put him back into his state of mind during his exploits in Vietnam. With Marie kidnapped, Webb returns to meet with the only person he can trust, Alex Conklin (still alive!). Webb has no choice but to don his hated person of Jason Bourne and play the part of assassin in hopes of rescuing Marie. His mission takes him to Hong Kong, where he must eliminate his impostor and his employer.
Already, there are several key differences from the novel to the film. Firstly, Marie survives throughout the duration of the novel. Marie was such an integral part of Bourne/Webb’s world. To have her killed while he still trying to piece together the fragments of his life was a huge shock and it still bothers me, having read the novel. I understood that the filmmakers wanted to give Bourne a reason to return to his violent ways, but to completely change his life was, in my opinion, a little unnecessary. Secondly, Alex Conklin is still alive and is trusted ally for Bourne/Webb. Conklin safely recovers Marie and keeps her safe while Bourne/Webb is on his mission. Lastly, there is no mention of Pamela Landy in the novel as her characted was created solely for the purpose of replacing Conklin as a foil to Bourne, but eventually becomes an ally.
In the third novel, Ultimatum, we find Bourne living under his real name David Webb when an old adversary comes out of hiding. Carlos The Jackal returns, albeit older and without the infamy he once garnered. Before he disappears forever, he makes it his mission to eliminate Bourne/Webb and to destroy the KGB facility that ‘bred’ him. Fearing for his family’s safety, Webb sends Marie and his children to live with her brother while he rejoins Conklin at the CIA to eliminate The Jackal once and for all. Yet it seems The Jackal anticipated Webb’s actions and has acquired the aid of other older assassins called ‘The Old Men of Paris’ to kill Webb’s family. However, one of his hired guns discovers that he will be killed once completes the job of eliminating Webb’s family, he turns on his would be assassin, prompting Webb to return, although keeping a safe distance from his family. Through several twists and turns, Webb and The Jackal square off once again at the KGB facility, but neither can finish the job as The Jackal walks away, seriously wounded by a grenade. However, when The Jackal tries to escape via river, the officials closes the gate, leading to him subsequently drowning.
The third film really had no true elements from the novel. Bourne gets mention of Simon Ross, a British journalist who may have uncovered a new CIA black ops program called ‘Blackbriar’ and a source that somehow connected to Bourne. Bourne quickly travels to London to meet with this journalist to grill him for information. However, Bourne’s former cohorts get wind of Ross’ meddling and send an asset to dispatch him. The asset succeeds in his task, but Bourne recovers some clues to the source, which leads him to begin a global search for answers to who he really is and how he became to be ‘Jason Bourne’. Does he succeed in his goal? If you’ve seen the film, the answer is quite obvious. If not, stop reading and check it out now: It is my favorite film in the series.
At face value, if the film makers kept more than just a semblance of the novels’ plot, the Bourne films still would be as entertaining. However, this is rather an irrelevant rant because film-making, albeit a form of artistic expression, is still a business. Don’t get me wrong: I love the films as they are, but having read the original novels, it makes me wonder what could’ve been if budgetary concerns were not a factor in adapting these books.
Finally, we get to the crux of why I started this post: Iron Man 3. By now, you guys have probably heard about the controversy surrounding the filmmakers’ handling of Tony Stark/Iron Man’s arch nemesis The Mandarin. Like the Joker, The Mandarin is an integral character to the makeup of Tony Stark. He is a man that commands such power and truly tests Iron Man’s mettle in the numerous encounters in the comic books. In the previous 2 films, we have heard mention of the Mandarin (Ten Rings, the terrorist organization that ransomed Stark in Iron Man 1), building up our anticipation for the inevitable showdown. Judging by the trailers and marketing, Sir Ben Kingsley was an inspired choice to play the iconic villain. His delivery oozed menace and, like all properly developed characters, provoked mimicry. Needless to say, anticipation was high for myself and my friends went to see the film. Like millions of moviegoers, I went to see the film on Friday night to a packed theater. The first 60 minutes were exactly what I wanted Iron Man 3 to be. Yet, when the big twist came around…I didn’t know what to make of it.
Instead of the Mandarin being the menacing character that we all recognize or heard about in the comics, we were subjugated to a disheveled, drunk and hopped up British actor playing a role. Like Stark, the bewilderment of this situation hit us like a ton of bricks. For myself, the first time I watched the film, I laughed but out of sheer disbelief in what the filmmakers have done. It was a huge gamble to turn such an iconic villain into a cheap parlor trick. Did it pay off? In terms of box office superiority, it did immensely. For the rabid fans of the comic books and the character, it was sacrilege and a grand disservice to the character. I am a comic book fan, but I never read a lot of the Iron Man comics. However, I am quite familiar with Extremis and Demon In a Bottle, so there were several liberties taken with those story arcs. Upon seeing the film a second time, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in how the Mandarin was handled.With the mention of Osama Bin Laden and Muammar al-Gaddalfi, the filmmakers made the claim that Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce, was the true Mandarin while the Mandarin seen by the public served as his proxy. The film was enjoyable despite this twist (thanks to the incredible action sequences and humor), but it kind of left me wanting more. I could care less about the arc reactor being no longer a part of Tony Stark or the main villain’s paltry motivations. By the film’s conclusion (after credit scene included), I couldn’t help but wonder if the real Mandarin was still in a cave similar to where his terrorist cells kept Tony hostage.
Director Shane Black is known for being a gutsy, risk-taking filmmaker, having written the Lethal Weapon franchise and Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. A lot of film lovers, like myself, were pumped when Shane Black was announced as director. The chemistry and friendship that Black and Robert Downey, Jr. developed from Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang would translate into an awesome film. It seemed we were getting an Iron Man film with Shane Black’s distinctive flair. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, I felt that the twist was a story element that greatly overshadowed the overall film. It had every chance to be great, but I can only see it as a solid end to a trilogy. In comparison, The Dark Knight Rises was not a perfect film, but with the tension and the deep care you developed for the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the Nolan films, the end was much more satisfying.
In conclusion of this long-winded post, I make a plea to Hollywood: Please be more respectful to the source material you are adapting. You have demonstrated it in previous films that it can be done (i.e. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, No Country for Old Men, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Batman Begins-The Dark Knight Rises, V For Vendetta, Watchmen, The Godfather, Parts 1-3, Game of Thrones, etc). This maybe a fruitless attempt to convince the studios to take better care of these properties, but with the debate rising from Iron Man 3 and Michael Bay’s mea culpa and subsequent rewrite of his TMNT reboot ,it may be time for Hollywood to take notice.
🚨🏩💉💉🏥💉💉🏩🚨http://www.redcrossblood.org/locations/boston-donation-center #bostonexplosion #bostonmarathon #donateblood #savealife #boston #giveblood
- What is your favorite movie of all-time?
- What is your favorite scene from that movie?
- Who are your favorite actors/actresses?
- In your opinion, who is the most annoying actor/actress?
- Who is your favorite director(s)?
- What is your favorite guilty pleasure film?
- What is your favorite tear jerker?
- Name a character from a movie that scared you the most?
- Name a movie you love that everyone hates?
- Name a movie you hate that everyone loves?
- Who is your favorite movie duo?
- What is your favorite animated movie?
- Who is your actor/actress crush?
- Who is your favorite movie villain?
- What movie surprised you the most? (I’m surprised it didn’t suck)
- If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- Recommend a movie to me and give a reason why I should watch it.
- If you can go back in time and marry an actor/actress (alive or dead), who would it be?
- Name one movie remake that you wish had never been made.
- If you were about to die and could only watch one more movie, what would it be?
- What is your favorite movie genre? Name your favorite from that genre.
- What movie do you think is worthy of a remake/reboot?
- What is your favorite movie prior to the 1980’s and give a reason why you love it?
- If you had an opportunity to write/direct/produce a feature film, would it be an original idea or an adaptation?
Reblog if you love me <3
I can only imagine what it was like to be on the set of The Dark Knight and witness that scene being filmed.