The current trend in cinema seems to have caused a resurgence in the popularity of comic books.
We’ve all read comic books at some point. But at some point, their popularity seemed to dwindle. When I was a kid, you could walk into any bookshop and find a whole section dedicated to comic books. Everything from Asterix and Obelix to Spider-Man to Batman.
Gradually, however, the comic book sections began to show less and less variety, with titles slowly disappearing until eventually the whole section just vanished. You can still find comic books in some of the larger bookstores but they’re generally found in rotating displays rather than on shelves.
Now, don’t get me wrong that’s fine, but it’s just not the same. I miss the days when comic books were in their own section of the bookstore and I don’t think that we’ll ever go that way again. That said, comic books seem to be making something of a comeback.
Over the last few years, the cinema scene has been inundated with comic book movies, and with the recent release of Black Panther, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to talk about ten comic book series that I think should get a film adaptation.
I actually found when going through comic book film lists that most of them had male leads and I thought it might be interesting to see a few different faces to the comic book film scene. So this list is going to be almost all women.
Anyway, this intro’s a lot longer than normal already so let’s get to the list!
Number 10: Avengelyne
Created by Rob Liefeld and Cathy Christian (who often modelled for variant cover images and on whom the character’s likeness was based), Avengelyne is or was an angel of God who was cast out of Heaven to earth as punishment for questioning God’s judgement. Quite why God would throw out one of his angels for simply asking an honest question is beyond me, so don’t ask.
She spends her time on earth defending its inhabitants from evil forces – demons and stuff like that.
The character originally appeared in a three-part miniseries published by Maximum Press in 1995. As time went on, however, the rights to the character moved from Maximum Press to Avatar Press and from Avatar to Liefeld’s Awesome Comics and from there to Image Comics – where it’s stayed so far.
So why do I think that this character should get a film adaptation?
Well, honestly I’m not sure myself. I think it’s the appeal of the unknown. I didn’t even know about this character until I quite literally stumbled across the name while surfing the web, reading about the Comics Code Authority and ‘bad girl art’.
The idea of a fallen angel defending earth isn’t new. It’s been done a few times, but I think that this series has a lot of potential as a dark, R-rated, fantasy film. That doesn’t mean you have to go that way; you can give it the PG-13 treatment as well. But in my opinion it just wouldn’t be the same.
Fun fact: Cathy Christian was the first official model for Vampirella.
Number 9: She-Hulk
Okay, so we’re all familiar with Bruce Banner and his accident – right? Good. But what about his cousin, Jennifer Walters? Like her cousin, Jennifer becomes a green version of herself with incredible strength while retaining her intelligence and emotional control.
She-Hulk was created by Stan Lee and John Buscema and made her first appearance in Savage She-Hulk #1 in February 1980.
As such, I can’t go into the full publication history here because:
- The character has seen many iterations and series in the course of her lifetime.
- Each version of She-Hulk is slightly different. The backstory might change slightly or the character’s abilities may change slightly; these small changes affect the continuity of the character.
- In regards to continuity, She-Hulk has seen a lot of action over the years (as I said earlier). If you go to the Wikipedia page for the character and look under her fictional biography, you’ll seventeen different storylines. And while most of them tie in together in some way, it’s a pretty safe bet that at least one of those storylines is a complete reboot of the character in some way.
- Each of those storylines was published at a different time, so which publication history do you want?
Okay, so there’s a lot of history with this character and, from what I can gather, she is quite popular. Which begs the question: Where is the movie adaptation?
Now, it’s not that the character hasn’t appeared on screen. She-Hulk has been making television appearances since as far back as 1982. But there’s a big difference between television and cinema – which is what I’m referring to here.
You’d think that with close to 40 years of history (38 years if you want to be specific), a film would’ve been done already. So where is the film? Why wasn’t it released?
Well, looking again at the Wikipedia page for the character, it seems there were actually plans for a live-action film back in the 1990s with Brigitte Nielsen in the role of Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, but it never amounted to anything.
There’s also an entry on imdb, titled Shamelessly She-Hulk starring Christian Bale as Bruce Banner and Lesley Youngblood and Kierstyn Elrod as Jennifer Walters (both actresses are credited as Jennifer Walters), but I’ve never seen or even heard of it and there’s no mention of the film on Bale’s filmography.
Why should She-Hulk get a comic-book to film adaptation? I think it’d be a pretty interesting thing to see Hulk teaming up with a female counterpart to smash bad guys, don’t you? I also think it’d be interesting to see how the other members of the Avengers react, and considering that Spider-Man has recently joined the MCU, why can’t She-Hulk do the same?
Number 8: Batgirl
Batgirl is one of DC Comics’ most well-known characters as one of many side-kicks/supporting characters to Batman. Batgirl was one of two female characters introduced in DC Comics’ early Batman titles (the other being Kathy Kane aka Batwoman). She was introduced in 1961 as a love interest to Robin and originally was Betty Kane, the niece of and side-kick to Batwoman.
Okay, so let’s get a few things out of the way:
- I just covered the introduction of Batgirl, not her full history because, like She-Hulk, there’s a hell of a lot of history to get through – 57 years of it.
- I haven’t read any Batgirl comics…yet. I want to though and as soon as I’ve read a few I’ll come back with thoughts on a possible film.
- Batgirl has NOT appeared in a film!
Let me say that again: Batgirl has not appeared in a film. And I know there are people who will read this and go: “What about Alfred’s niece in Batman and Robin?”
Well, okay, technically she did appear in Batman and Robin but that was as a SUPPORTING character. I’m referring to a feature film dedicated solely to Batgirl where she is the main hero of the film. No, Batman and Mr Freeze: Subzero doesn’t count because she wasn’t the main hero of the story – she started out that way and in the end was eclipsed by Batman and Robin – again (in my opinion at least).
A standalone film with Batgirl as the focal point, maybe one that focused on the early days of her career, would be so cool to watch! There are 57 years of storylines and while some may have been touched upon in the Killing Joke, not every storyline could be done.
If a film is made, it’ll probably be on one of the more modern takes on the character, which leaves ample opportunity for a dark, edgy take on the character similar to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
Number 7: Batwoman
Yes, another member of the DC Universe. I was originally going to put Catwoman at this spot but then I remembered that we got a Catwoman movie a few years ago…
Okay, so Batwoman was introduced in 1954 as a love interest for Bruce Wayne following the allegations of homoeroticism in the Batman and Robin relationship (which wasn’t allowed under the Comics Code Authority). Once again we have a good 64 years of history behind this character so I won’t go into it that much, if at all, because if I did this would be a very long article!
Now, once again I hear you cry: “Batwoman has appeared in film!”
And technically speaking, you aren’t entirely wrong, but you’re also not entirely right either. The film you’re referring to is most likely Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. Now, stay with me because this could get complicated. As much as I loved that film – and I did – it wasn’t the Batwoman film I’m referring to. See, in Mystery of the Batwoman, spoiler warning, it’s a group of women taking turns donning the cape and cowl. It wasn’t a singular woman donning the mantle and fighting crime.
When Batwoman was introduced in 1954, her name was Kathy Kane, and from what I understand, when Mystery of the Batwoman was released, the plan was to have Kathy Kane as the main character/sort of antagonist to the film. However, due to the violent nature of Kate Kane’s character, DC Comics didn’t want Warner Bros. to use her in a family friendly film.
Let’s think about that for a second, DC Comics didn’t want Kathy/Kate Kane’s character used in a ‘family-friendly’ film because of how violent she was. If that’s not reason enough to make a Batwoman film then I don’t know what is. We know that Batman has his whole ‘no killing’ rule, but Kane is different. She’s willing and able to use deadly force (i.e. killing) to achieve her objectives.
This would make an interaction of sorts between Batman and his allies, which would be very interesting to see. If they do make a solo Batwoman picture, can Chris Nolan direct it? Please?
Number 6: X-23
The result of the Weapon X program, this young lady was cloned from a damaged strand of Wolverine’s DNA and was trained to kill him. Eventually joining the X-Men instead and becoming Wolverine’s daughter figure.
This character started out in 2004 so she’s got fourteen years worth of stories behind her, and come on, a female Wolverine? That’s too cool to pass up.
Maybe we’ll see X-23 in the MCU someday. Yes, before anyone asks, I know she was in Logan, but I’m talking about a film where she is the main heroine. Logan was still more about the ageing Wolverine than it was about X-23.
Personally, I’d love to see how a film like that turned out and since Marvel has reacquired the X-Men rights a complete reboot seems likely to have them in the MCU; if they do reboot the franchise though, I hope they include X-23.
You can read more about an X-23 solo movie here.
Number 5: Nightwing
Remember that scene in Batman Forever where Dick Grayson lists possible side-kick names? We all thought it was kind of silly (come on, admit it). The funny thing is that the first Robin changed his alter ego. That’s right, he stopped being Robin and became Nightwing.
In this case I’m going to ignore the publication history and get right to why this series needs a film. It’d be cool – that’s the simplest way I can put it. It would explain a lot of the Batman Animated series’, particularly the New Adventures series, slight gap: If Dick is a grown-ass man, who’s the little kid trailing after Batman? How did he end up becoming Nightwing? When did he quit being Robin?
Yeah, it was probably explained in Batman Beyond, but honestly I thought that series was way too overrated and boring so I wasn’t really paying attention.
Number 4: Shanna, the She-Devil
Where do I start? Shanna, the She-Devil got her start at Marvel Comics in a five part series, which ran from December 1972 to August 1973. She was originally the daughter of a diamond miner who grew up in Africa and, following her mother’s accidental shooting, developed a hatred towards guns (understandably so). When she grows up, she becomes a vet working in a zoo before having to return to Africa.
The series was introduced as one of three series aimed at a female audience, the other two being Tigra (then titled Claws of the Cat) and a little known gem called Night Nurse. It was meant to be a long running series, but it never got further than five issues. Thankfully, Frank Cho took a crack at the character in 2005 with a seven part storyline titled The Killing Season (ooh, creepy).
In this version, Shanna is a result of a Nazi experiment (super soldier experiment) to create the perfect killing machine – I think. It’s never really explained what the experiments were aimed at as far as I remember. The important thing here is that we have what is essentially a female Tarzan killing dinosaurs!
Tarzan and Jurassic Park in one movie… let that sink in. That would be so cool to see – especially if they blend CGI and animatronics the way they did for Jurassic Park.
Number 3: Starfire
Okay, so another DC Comics character on this list and admittedly I had no idea who Starfire was when I started putting this list together. In all honesty, the first time I even heard of the character was in a fan-fiction series and I thought she was just a fan-made character. Still, I did some digging and found a couple of videos on YouTube where the character is mentioned as a member of the Teen Titans (whatever that is).
I was able to read a few Starfire comics while prepping this list and I have to ask: Where is the movie?
No, seriously: where’s the comic-book movie?
The series that I’m reading now follows Koriand’r (Starfire’s real name) as she tries to live a normal life on earth – while also fighting off various disasters. The character’s naiveté makes for some comedy gold and even if some of the fight scenes are a bit… drawn out (excuse the pun), it’s still a pretty good read and I think it would transfer very well to film –if done carefully.
Number 2: Chastity
Alright, so this is a very obscure title. Very few people seem to have heard of CHAOS Comics or the character of Chastity Marks.
Who is Chastity Marks, you ask? Well, Chastity Marks is a vampire who hunts vampires. She’s also, I think, one of the most under-appreciated comic-book characters ever!
Chastity made her debut appearance in Evil Ernie: Straight to Hell in 1995 where she was hired to destroy the undead teen psychopath. She got her first solo story in 1997 with Theater of Pain and from there kind of just took off on her own adventures within the CHAOS Comics titles. Of course, when CHAOS Comics filed for bankruptcy in 2002, the character was picked up by a different company.
In 2014, Dynamite Entertainment released a revamped (I’m sorry, I’m full of puns for some reason) version of the character for a limited six part miniseries.
With regards to a film adaptation, it’s been done in terms of the whole “kid flees abusive home situation for a life on the road towards a goal and gets more than they expected”. But the nice thing is that each of the CHAOS miniseries is different enough to be unique and the sheer number of stories should be proof of movie potential. Don’t believe me? Okay then, here’s a small list:
- Evil Ernie: Straight to Hell (CHAOS)
- Theater of Pain (CHAOS)
- Lust for Life (CHAOS)
- Reign of Terror (CHAOS)
- Shattered (CHAOS)
- Crazy Town (CHAOS)
- Chaos (Dynamite)
- Chastity (Dynamite)
Which of these would I like to see? Well, any of them really, but I think the 2014 series has a better chance at a film adaptation as the story’s a bit more coherent than it is in the CHAOS run of the character.
I’ve read most, if not all of the Chastity titles in the CHAOS line-up that I could find, and you never really get a clear picture of how she became what she is. The re-imagined version of the 2014 run by Dynamite showcases Chastity Marks as an average teenaged girl. We get to know her a bit more, we learn about her family life and what they like/don’t like; it makes her a more likeable character than if she just appeared out of nowhere as some badass killing machine.
There are also other titles in the CHAOS line-up that feature the character of Chastity where she crosses paths with fellow CHAOS ladies: Lady Death, Purgatori, and others (kudos to you if you recognise the names), which provide even more potential film material.
Number 1: Purgatori
Since we’ve already added one CHAOS Comics femme fatale to the list, let’s finish off with one!
It’s said that your hero is only as good as your villain, but in this case, I think that’s a bit mixed up.
Purgatori, as a character, got her start in Lady Death II: Between Heaven and Hell in 1995, before getting her first solo story in 1996 titled: The Vampire’s Myth.
She’s disturbingly cruel at times, but that’s understandable given her character. What do I mean by that? Well, Purgatori was originally Sakkara, a slave in ancient Egypt who was working on a monument for the Queen Ostraca (yes, that’s how it’s spelled in the comic). The monument is meant to be a form of the queen’s immortality.
The queen sees her and takes her as a lover, only to betray her later on; marrying a general to “guarantee her immortality”. the general kills her other lovers and the queen basically says: “Yeah, I love you but not that much.”
Sakkara escapes and finds an ancient vampire who turns her into the villain we all know and love – taking revenge soon after her transition.
Like Chastity, Purgatori has a number of storylines to choose from and many of them would do quite well as films. Unlike Chastity, however, we actually understand why Purgatori is the way she is. We get some of her backstory early on. She was betrayed by the person she loved for that person’s vanity; wouldn’t you be just a little bitter? That aside, she’s just so much damn fun to read!
For example (and if you haven’t read the Vampire’s Myth then this is your spoiler warning):
Purgatori gets her revenge on the queen by attacking on the wedding night and infecting the bride and groom before locking them in a sarcophagus. Doesn’t sound like much, right? Well, this is the twisted part: it’s established after Purgatori changes that in order to complete the change, a vampire must feed on blood almost immediately and for a long time after the transition period passes or they won’t transition completely.
Still not following? Okay then, basically put: they turn but they are driven insane by hunger for the rest of eternity. Icing on the cake? The queen and her new husband were trapped for five days before their soldiers found them… I’ll just let that sink in while I have a sip of coffee, shall I?
See what I mean now? She’s a twisted character but you can’t help cheering for her and hoping that she succeeds. It’d be very interesting to see where they go with the character because Dynamite Entertainment also released a Purgatori series back in 2014 so there are a few possibilities for a film.
Regrettably, however, it doesn’t seem likely that Purgatori will see the big screen in any capacity due to the popularity of more well-known characters, like Batman and the Avengers.
Final Thoughts On This Potentially Awesome Bunch of Comic-Book Movies
Those are my top 10 comic books that should get a film adaptation. Whether any of them get made (Surely Hollywood???) we will have to see. But each of the comic-books and their characters possess something special that deserves time on screen.
I’d also love to hear your thoughts on this list so hit me up on Twitter (@AnimeCrazyNut) with your comments/thoughts and feel free to share your own top 10 lists on what comics you think should get a movie adaptation.
This was probably the longest article I’ve ever done and my fingers are starting to hate me so thanks for reading and be sure to let me know what you all thought. I’ll see you all for the next one!