Sunday, December 10, 2017

Doing adaptations well or badly

Why not talk about this a bit? There's been a lot of adaptations over the years, and I don't just mean film and TV.  The Shadow started as a radio theater host character, and was spun off into his own show, with books, comics, and film following. Recently, Castalia House has announced an adaptation that may be their first foray into their alternative comics distribution model. 

Personally, I don't have any excitement for this, though I know the series has people that love it. Whether that will translate to folks buying comics, we'll see. They also mention a Lovecraft Noir series and a military science fiction series possibly being adapted. I think the Lovecraftian may work, and I'm confident the milsf books will if and when they happen.

For an adaptation to do well and be good are, of course, two very different things. In comics, I've seen adaptations of opera that are amazingly beautiful, but they lack the music. There's also been so many comics adaptations of movies that are just lazy that it's ridiculous. 

One thing that I can guarantee is disastrous in adapting a property is not having a coherent version of it. My best example would be the Jonah Hex movie, which opened with a great animatic. One of the big issues was the fact that there was no one version of the character or type of story they wanted to tell, and instead tried to mix up the weird west and regular western versions of the character, and landing in a disjointed semi-weird, semi-regular version with a twist of steampunk.

So what works? Start with knowing and respecting the work. That's why Henry Cavill fails as Superman, there's no respect for the history or mythos of the work. Oh, you can point to Superman Year One, but even that has Superman as more human than these. 

Look at the origins, and I don't mean Krypton. His planet of birth matters for the scale of what he is capable of, but not the directions he chooses. No, his origins are not as Superman, but Clark Kent from Smallville, Kansas. Not the show, the place, and what that means, which is mostly beyond anyone in the film industry anymore. No culture of faith, instead he's taught to sacrifice others rather than self.  

Maybe if there was a better cultural awareness instead of coastal elite smugness, they could move beyond playing to their social justice ideals. Nah. Keep playing, guys, you're making huge openings for everyone that wants better stories.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

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