Remakes are an opportunity to grow and develop. Certain comic-book films and franchises deserve that chance.
Let’s face it, remakes are everywhere nowadays and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be stopping anytime soon. This has led to an argument I’ve heard very frequently recently: “Hollywood needs to stop with the remakes and make something original”. And I do sort of agree. This is especially true of comic-book films (yay comic-book films).
Personally, I’m not a big fan of remakes; as the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But I do have to admit that they are a good opportunity to grow and develop a concept/storyline. Recently, however, it occurred to me that I haven’t seen any remakes/reboots of comic-book movies. I mean, we have Man of Steel, which I guess could be called a Superman reboot, but I haven’t seen anything else along those lines.
I should emphasise that, sure, these films don’t necessarily need a remake – but that they do deserve a second chance. So without further ado, let’s talk comic-book movie remakes!
Number 5: Green Lantern
Okay, so starting off is probably the absolute worst film on this list. Green Lantern was released in 2011 with Ryan Reynolds in the role of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. The film followed Hal as he became a Green Lantern and had to protect his home, Coast City… Wait, that’s really the city’s name? Seriously? Okay, okay we’ll run with it.
Anyway, Hal has to protect Coast City from Sinestro. Okay, I get that it’s a comic book movie but couldn’t the villain’s name be more… umm… menacing or something? “Sinestro” sounds like some sort of flu medicine or a sinus problem. Yeah, you go to the doctor and he says: “Oh, it’s just a minor case of sinestro – nothing serious.”
In all honesty, it’s not the story that bothers me. No, what bothers me is that the story is primarily forgettable and the Hal’s suit is all CGI! What, they get to do a Green Lantern film but can’t put a practical costume together? Come on!
The dialogue in the film was also often way too forced, and you could tell that even Reynolds, who has basically made a career out of making bad dialogue good, was struggling a bit. Hell, he mocked his own comic book film appearances in Deadpool!
So, we’ve already got a reason or two for a remake: better story and less CGI. Ryan Reynolds was okay, but, hey he’s a guy who could probably make a dinner menu funny (surely his next superhero appearance should be as… Menu-man?). By all means, cast him again if he’s willing; if not get someone else. But for goodness sake don’t make the suit CGI! Get an actual costume this time!
Sharpen the script, lose the extraneous stuff and actually put a plan of sorts together and you should be, theoretically speaking at least, golden.
With that out of the way, let’s move on to some actual good movies, shall we?
Number 4: Blade
One of Marvel Comics’ lesser-known characters, Blade started out as a supporting character in 1972’s Tomb of Dracula following the relaxation of certain rules by the Comics Code Authority. Throughout the 70s, 80s and early 90s, this guy went from a supporting role to getting his own solo comics – enjoying quite a bit of popularity. It wasn’t until 1998, however, that this lesser-known antihero became a household name – at least as far as I can tell.
The Blade Trilogy is probably one of my favourite film series ever. Each film follows the character of Eric Brooks aka Blade a human/vampire hybrid who hunts and kills vampires. Why? Mostly because he can! Wesley Snipes was excellent in the role of the titular character, bringing a dark, menacing, yet oddly (and darkly) humorous creation to life.
The first two films were great and you could tell Snipes was having an absolute blast playing the role of Blade. Now, for fairness sake I will admit that I enjoy Blade Trinity as well but not as much as the other two films. The music and action sequences were good, the visual effects were cool, the pacing was okay, and, considering what they had to work with, the acting isn’t too bad either. Unfortunately, the tone of the film is all over the place and unlike the other two films, Trinity doesn’t have much in the way of humour.
Thankfully, we got a TV series in 2006 which lasted only one season and an anime in 2012 to tide us over for a while. Those don’t count as remakes though, okay? Cool, just checking.
Anyways, the third Blade film basically killed the franchise… until now. We can’t remake Blade Trinity into something different; it is what it is. But in recent weeks I’ve found a few articles and even a few videos which seem to indicate that a possible reboot is on the horizon – probably bringing Blade into the MCU. There’s an article I found listing 5 ways Blade could be added to the MCU; you can check it out here.
Wesley Snipes has said a couple of times now that he would be interested in doing another Blade film so we’ll see where that goes.
Number 3: Elektra
At our third spot we have Elektra and I actually kind of liked this one. No, I’m not kidding. I’ve seen the film a few times and I’ve often found some sort of entertainment value in it.
Elektra was released in 2005 with Jennifer Garner reprising her role from 2003’s Daredevil. And it was financially successful, grossing just over $56,000,000 on a budget of $43,000,000. But it was panned by critics.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a bad film; not terrible – I mean you can still watch it – but it’s definitely a bad film. And there are a couple of reasons for this, its self-seriousness and corny dialogue chief among them.
Personally, I think the problem goes further than that and this actually connects to why Elektra could use a remake. The first part of the problem here is the age rating – let me explain. There’s nothing wrong with a PG-13 movie, a lot of them are very fun to watch. But the age rating on a comic-book movie should, at least in part, show some awareness of who the character is at their roots. This means going back to the source material – comic books.
Elektra Natchios made her comic book debut in January of 1981 with Daredevil #168 as a love interest for Matt Murdock/Daredevil with her violent, mercenary lifestyle posing certain complications. She was an assassin who primarily looked out for herself; anyone she helped out was either there by chance and so was helped unintentionally or they were her sponsor so she had no real choice if she wanted her pay cheque.
Age Rating, Costume and Humour – Reasons for a Remake
If you’re going to do a film with an assassin who kills the way she does (and trust me she can be quite creative) and make it PG-13 then we have a problem already. Sure she’s got limits on what she will or won’t do but still a character like this needs a film that will do her justice. This means a film with an R or NC-17 rating.
Now my understanding is a little hazy here so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but the way I understand it is that an NC-17 rating is higher than an R rating – which is why most theatres won’t play an NC-17 film.
Okay, that addresses the age rating. Next let’s look at practicality. How things are/were done started with a big problem for viewers everywhere (particularly those who watched Daredevil): The costume.
If you’ve watched Daredevil then you’ll know that Elektra wore a leather outfit instead of the character’s signature red silk. Why? Because leather is tougher than silk or cotton or whatever they used for the 2005 Elektra film! It can take a substantial beating and keep coming back for more. Silk, wool, cotton, these are all comfortable, light and easy to work with and find but they aren’t very durable materials. Thus when those of us who watched Elektra saw Jennifer Garner in what looked like form-fitting red cotton/silk it was seen as a huge step backwards.
Looking at the costume from a tactical standpoint it just doesn’t make sense. You went from tough, durable leather, to soft, easily cut/torn cotton/silk? It was very difficult to take Elektra seriously as a result.
The third aspect of the film that a remake could do better would be the humour. Elektra in the comics is portrayed as being very beautiful, with the character knowing it. She uses her feminine wiles to get close to her targets, which sometimes results in some rather, shall we say, risque dialogue both from her and the characters watching her. She also has a subtle but terrific sense of humour. She scares the hell out of people, appearing out of or disappearing into thin air. She writes a lot of little letters to her sponsors which are often signed “Li’l Ghosty” with something like “hugs and kisses” preceding it.
To her credit, Garner tried. She tried so hard to bring Elektra’s sense of humour into the film but just couldn’t do it. In general the film was already way too self-serious as it was, and though a little humour would’ve helped, Elektra’s sense of humour comes from context as a whole and the film didn’t have that element. This is where a remake would definitely work!
Number 2: Lady Death
Okay, so the runner-up isn’t that bad, but it’s also not that good. Based on the Lady Death character created by Brian Pulido, this 2004 animated film follows Hope, the daughter of a warlord who ends up in Hell and plans a battle with her father (who was apparently Lucifer in disguise) to decide the fate of Hell and its residents.
Lady Death made her comic book debut in CHAOS Comics’ 1991 series Evil Ernie: Youth Gone Wild as the hallucination of a psychotic teenager, Ernest Fairchild, who prompted him to kill people with the promise of eternal love. Sounds like a pretty good horror/fantasy film to me, but that’s not this film. No, this film seems to follow Lady Death’s first solo story, The Reckoning, and even that’s not right!
The basic story of Hope going to hell and being offered a place at Lucifer’s side and her subsequent refusal, as well as her building an army, those are all more or less the same But there are so many differences that I’d be here for ages trying to unravel them all! The film was poorly received so any chances of a sequel were shut down immediately.
Now, as far as the film itself, I thought it was okay, but that’s all it was. It was a time-waster, something to put on in the background while you do something else. But the sad thing is that the film had so much potential! I went and read a few Lady Death comics after I saw the film and I was stunned by just how dark and violent and just generally disturbing it was! There was some great R-rated material lying there waiting to be used and most of it was toned down or cut out completely!
As far as a remake goes, the 2004 film isn’t too bad – it’s watchable – but having read every Lady Death comic by CHAOS Comics I could find, I have to say that watching it again I did feel slightly cheated. The comics were geared towards an adult audience and as such were much darker than the film was. I mean, the Lady Death stories and others that were linked to them were released around the time that the Comics Code Authority was sort of discontinued so you’d think that they’d be age restricted. But when I looked into it I found that no, age ratings are not applied to literature; the most you’ll get is a mature content warning on the front cover. Although, I seem to recall hearing that Lady Death and her colleagues were kept in locked display cabinets with stores being forbidden to sell them to anyone under the age of sixteen or whatever it was, but I can’t find any evidence of that happening.
The point is that the 2004 film should have been a lot darker than it was. It was given a PG-13 rating instead of the R or NC-17 rating that it should’ve gotten. A remake provides the chance to get that higher age rating – especially if the film was redone in live action. Which, if I may say so myself, would look very epic.
Number 1: Vampirella
The lady who, for all intents and purposes started the ‘bad girl’ art craze. How could I not give Vampirella the top spot? Starting out at the Warren Ellis company in 1969, the Vampirella magazine was an anthology series that ran for 112 books from 1969 to 1988.
Unlike most horror series at the time, the titular character was more like a hostess than a main character; she’d introduce a story and then have some snarky comment at the end of it. She did, of course, get a single story to each issue just for fairness sake I guess; eventually she was developed into a main character with several solo series by Dynamite Entertainment.
Now, you could be thinking: “What the heck is he talking about? I’ve never heard of a Vampirella movie.”
Well, in 1996 a guy by the name of Jim Wynorski directed a straight to video film adaptation of the comic starring Talisa Soto in the title role. The plot followed Vampirella as she left her home planet of Drakulon and came to Earth looking for the vampires who murdered her father.
I for one loved the film purely for how cheesy it was; pure B-movie stuff. It’s one of those “so bad it’s good” titles that you sort of need to see to believe. As for the costume in the film, they toned it down quite a bit (for obvious reasons). You guys want to know what’s really cool though? It turns out that back in 1975 or ’76 the HAMMER Film company was going to try and adapt the character but financial difficulties killed the film before it was even in production. If you’d like to know more about that, you can read about it here.
Can you imagine HAMMER Studios producing a Vampirella film? That would’ve been so cool!
The other reason the film fell through was that they couldn’t find an actress willing to wear Vampirella’s red… umm… I don’t know what to call this thing…swimsuit? Will that work? I hope so. Point is, I can’t exactly blame them.
In terms of comic book film remakes, this is definitely one that needs to happen. And it has legs to go far, whether they adapt one of the Dynamite titles or even the original Warren Ellis anthology series (though personally I think the original comic should be an anthology series). It’d be quite interesting to see what they do with the character.
Final thoughts on these potential comic-book movie remakes
Those are my picks for comic-book films that deserve a second chance and wow, I didn’t expect to be doing another piece on comic-book movies, but hey that’s showbiz right? If you haven’t already, you can read last week’s article on the 10 comic-book to film adaptations that need to happen here.
On a related note, one bit of interesting feedback I got was on who would be cast in those films. I suspect the question would be the same here and I’d love to make an article where I cast films on both this article and the last one. For that, I need your help: Who would you cast in these movies?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this list in general as well: Have you seen any of these? Which ones have you seen and what did you think of them? Hit me up on Twitter (@AnimeCrazyNut) and let me know.
And if you want more comic-book related stuff then check out the Top 5 Avengers who need to Die in Infinity War. Plus, if you’re wondering if you should be hopeful of the future DCEU movies you can find our thoughts here.
That’s all from me for now, until next time stay awesome and thanks for reading!