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Gotham: 10 Hollywood Comic Book Movies Faithful To The Source Material

 

GOTHAM

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IN FRANCHISES, COMIC VALUES AND COLLECTIONS

In our article, we list 10 important Hollywood movies that faithfully adapted the source material from the comics. Though blockbuster success is not the most important factor, their impact on cinema and the visual arts is undeniable. Moreover, they helped pioneer other comic book movies and shared cinematic universes.

Below, you can read our Top 10 Hollywood comic book movies.

10. CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019)

With the popularity of the superhero genre, Captain Marvel (2019) was a welcome surprise. As a true cosmic movie, the film takes its subject matter seriously. Though Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck add comedic moments. Perhaps, few Marvel Cinematic Universe films pay as much attention to their titular heroine’s origin story. Certainly, Carol Danvers’ Kree origins are central to the superheroine both in the comics and the movie. At Refinery29, the critic points out the major change is in Mar-Vell’s gender swap from male to female.

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the cast, the original use of the superhero genre, the impressive visual effects, the movie production and the top-notch acting.

9. BATMAN (1989)

To begin, the Batman (1989) was a cinematic event for the period. Certainly, the movie is indebted to the dark and gritty graphic novels of the 1980s such as Batman: The Killing Joke or Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Though the film successfully adapts Batman’s noir atmosphere from the source material, it alters elements of its mythos. For instance, the Joker killed Bruce’s parents and Batman is willing to kill.

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the cast, the ground-breaking use of the superhero genre, the serious Batman treatment, the pop-culture impact and the top-notch acting.

8. SPIDER-MAN (2002)

Incredibly, Spider-Man (2002) captivated audiences at the beginning of the twenty-first century. In fact, the Sam Raimi films were a cultural sensation out-performing the original Superman: The Movie at the box office. Though Spider-Man 3 was not well received. At the time, audiences loved the first Spider-Man movie. And director Sam Raimi’s faithful rendition of the Spider-Man world won fans though the adaptation of his super powers and the loss of web-shooters created controversy.

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the cast, the original use of the superhero genre, the pop-culture impact, the authentic Spider-Man universe and the top-notch acting.

7. SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (1978)

Certainly, Superman: The Movie (1978) is the original superhero blockbuster. When the movie was released, general audiences were charmed by the hero’s enthralling story. Moreover, Christopher Reeve’s charismatic performance carried the movie. Importantly, the movie actually changed the Superman mythos instead of simply adapting it. In fact, the Krypton backstory was a new addition from the Donnerverse that changed its depiction in comics.

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the cast, the first blockbuster comic book movie, the pop-culture impact, the charismatic Christopher Reeve performance, the re-invention of the Superman mythos and the top-notch acting.

6. THOR (2011)

In terms of cinematic achievement, Thor (2011) is a visual and aesthetic masterpiece. Certainly, the movie skyrocketed the former B-lister to super-stardom at Marvel. And it is well deserved. Importantly, the Thor movie respects the most important elements of the hero’s origin story: the legendary Asgard, the worthiness enchantment on Mjolnir, and the struggle between the brothers Thor and Loki for the throne. Though the only significant alteration is that Asgardians are an alien race and not gods.

 

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the cast, the first blockbuster Thor movie, the charismatic Chris Hemsworth performance, the legendary world of Asgard and costume work, one of the most faithful Marvel Cinematic Universe comic book adaptations to film.

5. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011)

Importantly, Captain America: The First Avenger may be the best Captain America movie. When it comes to faithful adaptations, the movie retains the basic Captain America story: a young, feebled and patriotic Steve Rogers enrolls in Project Rebirth and becomes a Super-Soldier. Becoming Captain America, he leads his unit against Red Skull and Germany. Though the only major difference is that the Captain stays in the ice for 70 years in the movie as opposed to 19 years in the comics.

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the cast, the first blockbuster Captain America movie, the charismatic Chris Evans performance, the chemistry between the lead actors, one of the most faithful Marvel Cinematic Universe comic book adaptations to film.

4. BATMAN RETURNS (1992)

Incredibly, Batman Returns (1992) might be the most memorable Batman film of the early 1990s. With an iconic cast in Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny Devito who star as memorable villains Catwoman and Penguin; and an impressive performance by Michael Keaton, the film is even darker than the first one. According to Batman Online, the movie inspires itself from multiple gothic-style Batman stories from the early 1990s such as Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City (1990).

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the iconic cast, the darker Batman sequel, Michelle Pfeiffer’s break-out performance, the chemistry between the lead actors, a cult film during the decade, an inspiration from multiple comics in the 1990s.

3. V FOR VENDETTA (2006)

Incredibly, V for Vendetta (2006) takes its title directly from the source material. At IGN, the critic cites the Wachowski Brothers’ adaptation took some liberties from Alan Moore’s comic. Though, the general premise of a masked man opposing totalitarian regime in Great Britain remains. Nonetheless, the movie’s third act does not escape the tropes of Hollywood endings. Certainly, it belongs at the top of this list as an iconic movie adaptation.

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the adaptation from Alan Moore’s avant-garde and deconstruction of the superhero genre, the Wachowski’s artistic license and the popular controversy.

2. WATCHMEN (2009)

Gloriously, Watchmen (2009) misses the top spot on this list. At the same time, the movie is a cult classic that has passionated fans since 2009. At the helm, Zack Snyder directs the most important adaptation of a comic book to the big screen. Once again, Alan Moore’s masterpiece proves to be the inspiration. Certainly, there is a reason why the director has been celebrated among die-hard fans.

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the adaptation from Alan Moore’s masterpiece and the greatest comic of all time, Zack Snyder’s visual story-telling, gratuitous violence and pop-culture impact.

1. 300 (2007)

Gloriously, 300 (2007) showed it is possible to create a successful R-rated movie. Successfully, the movie was a pop-culture sensation at its release and became every fan’s visual scriptures. As a visual director, Snyder created a frame-by-frame adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel. Though the movie is violent, graphic and barbaric, it inaugurated a completely new visual form of storytelling.

WHY IT’S ON THIS LIST: And the movie belongs on this list for the iconic cast, Gerard Butler’s charismatic performance, a revolutionary R-rated blockbuster movie, scene-by-scene adaptation faithful to the comic, Zack Snyder’s unique visual storytelling.

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LINKS

Every Major Change Captain Marvel Made From The Original Comics in Refinery29.
How Superman: The Movie Changed Kal-El’s Comic Book Mythos in Nerdist.
Comic Influences on Batman Returns (1992) in Batman-Online.
V for Vendetta: Comic vs. Film in IGN.
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Dark Horse Day: 5 Reasons Why The 300 Taking On The Persian Army Is The Greatest Human Feat

In '300' (1998) #1, King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans march towards Thermopylae.
 
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DARK HORSE DAY

In '300' (1998) #1, King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans march towards Thermopylae.
In ‘300’ (1998) #1, King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans march towards Thermopylae. AP Photo/Dark Horse Comics.
Official Name

300

Universe

Dark Horse

Heroes

300 Spartans with King Leonidas.

Villains

King Xerxes and armies of Persia.

Creators

Frank Miller and Lynn Varley.

RELIGIOUS WARFARE

5. KING LEONIDAS AND THE SPARTANS’ FEAT IS HISTORICAL

Under Xerxes I, the Persian army moved south through Greece on the eastern coast, accompanied by the Persian navy moving parallel to the shore. To reach its destination at Attica, the region controlled by the city-state of Athens, the Persians needed to go through the coastal pass of Thermopylae (or the “Hot Gates,” so known because of nearby sulfur springs). In the late summer of 480 B.C., Leonidas led an army of 6,000 to 7,000 Greeks from many city-states, including 300 Spartans, in an attempt to prevent the Persians from passing through Thermopylae.

Leonidas established his army at Thermopylae, expecting that the narrow pass would funnel the Persian army toward his own force. For two days, the Greeks withstood the determined attacks of their far more numerous enemy. Leonidas’ plan worked well at first, but he did not know that there was a route over the mountains to the west of Thermopylae that would allow the enemy to bypass his fortified position along the coast.

A local Greek told Xerxes about this other route and led the Persian army across it, enabling them to surround the Greeks. Much of the Greek force retreated rather than face the Persian army. An army of Spartans, Thespians and Thebans remained to fight the Persians. Leonidas and the 300 Spartans with him were all killed, along with most of their remaining allies. The Persians found and beheaded Leonidas’ corpse–an act that was considered to be a grave insult.

-“Leonidas,” History

4. IT OCCURS DURING THE GREEK HEROIC AGE

The Greek Heroic Age is an important part in Hellenism. Though there is disagreement on its starting and its ending years, Greek poet Hesiod agreed it started with the Bronze Age and ended with the Iron Age.

It is agreed that they lived during the times of the war between Troy and Thebes, Hercules’ Twelve Labors and the voyage of Odysseus.

Ancient Greek myths, the stories about gods and heroes, are set sometime “long, long ago”. The ancient poet Hesiod, in his Works and Days, came up with a system of alternating generations of mortals – in English, it is customary to refer to “Ages” instead. The sequence starts with the Golden Age, followed by the Silver Age, the Bronze Age, the Age of Heroes, and finally the Iron Age. The Iron Age was the time when Hesiod himself lived, so contemporary ancient Greece (in his case, around 700 BC).

-An Age Of Heroes?, Ancient World Magazine

3. THERMOPYLAE AND MILITARY STRATEGY

In ‘300’ (1998) #1, King Leonidas gathers 300 Spartans in order to fight the Persian invasion. Because of the Persian numerical advantage, Leonidas uses a military strategy called “defeat in detail.”

Courageously, Leonidas marches the Spartan army to the narrow cliffs of of Thermopylae (“The Hot Gates”). There, the terrain will allow them to make a stand against the Persian army.

In '300' (1998) #1, King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans march towards Thermopylae.
In ‘300’ (1998) #1, King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans march towards Thermopylae. AP Photo/Dark Horse Comics.

CHECK OUT THE STORY: It’s Official! In His Thirst For Vengeance Against The Third Horseman, Black Adam Became A Genocidal Maniac By Killing Every Man, Woman And Child In Bialya.

A FAN OF THE REST OF THIS STORY? CLICK ON “300” BELOW TO PURCHASE THE HD ON AMAZON.

2. 300 SPARTANS VS THOUSAND PERSIANS

First, King Xerxes had conquered Asia and was headed for Greece. In fact, King Xerxes had gathered the Persian army and was worshiped as a god. Second, King Xerxes had an overwhelming numerical advantage in the war. Third, King Leonidas had only 300 Spartans who marched to Thermopylae on foot.

In contrast, King Xerxes and the Persian army had horses and carriages. The only advantage the Spartans had was military strategy. The reason why the 300 Spartans performed the greatest human feat was because they held off a more powerful army with an overwhelming numerical advantage.

In '300' (1998), King Leonidas fights the god Xerxes, the Emperor of Persia and his army at Thermopylae, The Hot Gates.
In ‘300’ (1998) #5, King Leonidas fights the god Xerxes, the Emperor of Persia and his army at Thermopylae, The Hot Gates. AP Photo/Dark Horse Comics.

1. GOD VS MAN: KING LEONIDAS PROVED “EVEN A GOD CAN BLEED”

In '300', King Leonidas' arrow injures Xerxes' right cheek. Photo/Dark Horse Comics.
In ‘300’ (1998) #5, King Leonidas’ arrow injures Xerxes’ right cheek. AP Photo/Dark Horse Comics.

VISIT THE CYBORG APPRECIATION PAGE.


SOURCES

300 Vol 1 1 in Dark Horse Database.
Leonidas in HISTORY.
An Age of Heroes? in ANCIENT WORLD MAGAZINE
300 Vol 1 5 in Dark Horse Database
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Dark Horse Day: Who Are The 300?

 

DARK HORSE DAY

The ‘300’ (1998) march towards Thermopylae. Photo/Dark Horse Comics.

THE GHOST FILES

PROJECT BLACK SKY: INVESTIGATION

In my investigation of the White City Butcher, I have stumbled upon a legend of myth. I was looking for clues on the demon who possessed James Barrow, and I found in the computer files, a file about the 300.

I opened it!

DATABASE FILES

In '300' (1998), King Leonidas and the 300 march towards Thermopylae to face the god Xerxes, Emperor of Persia and his army.

In ‘300’ (1998), King Leonidas and the 300 march towards Thermopylae to face a being of legend, the god Xerxes, the Emperor of Persia and his innumerable army.

According to legend, King Leonidas and his 300 bodyguards, were strong and proud men, who lived by Spartan law. When the Eupors would not consent to King Leonidas’ decision to go to war with the Emperor of Persia, King Leonidas embarked on a march with his 300 unbeknownst to the Eupors.

He faced Xerxes and his army at Thermopylae.

Check Out The Action: Dark Horse Day: The Death Star.

In '300' (1998), King Leonidas fights the god Xerxes, the Emperor of Persia and his army at Thermopylae, The Hot Gates.
In ‘300’ (1998), King Leonidas faces Xerxes, the Emperor of Persia and his army at Thermopylae, The Hot Gates. Photo/Dark Horse Comics

Read on!

On arriving at the battlefield, a place called Thermopylae (the “Hot Gates”), Leonidas and his men picked the place where they will set up their defense. The Hot Gates was a pass between the mountains. If Leonidas could funnel the Persians into this area, their numbers would count for nothing. Thus, a wall was built which forced any attackers into the Hot Gates. When Xerxes attacked with his lightly armed Persians, they were unable to force the Spartans back despite their massive numerical superiority.

The first day of fighting ends well for the Spartans, and so Xerxes send in his elite troops, the Immortals, so called because their unit was always kept at one thousand men strong. They were Xerxes’s personal body guard and highly trained. After a bloody battle, the Spartans are once again victorious. The second day passed in much the same way. It seems as if the Spartans will succeed.

‘Leonidas’, Dark Horse Database

Unfortunately for the brave Spartan King, someone would betray him. The Immortals closed in on the Spartans, and the warriors were slaughtered.

In '300' (1998), King Leonidas and the Spartans fight back against the Immortals of Emperor Xerxes' army.
In ‘300’ (1998), King Leonidas and the Spartans fight back against the Immortals of Emperor Xerxes’ army. Photo/Dark Horse Comics

Read on!

However, Leonidas is betrayed. A traitor showed Xerxes a secret pass through the mountains used by goat herders that allows the few remaining Immortals to get behind the Spartans. The few Greek guards are slaughtered, and by morning, Leonidas is surrounded.

Earlier on, he had sent a messenger back to Sparta to tell them the tale of the defenders and to psyche them up for war. He then turned to his men and said, “Make breakfast and eat hearty, for tonight we dine in hell!”

This prophecy proved accurate when Xerxes gave Leonidas a final chance to surrender. He dropped to his knees, and removes his helmet and shield. At first it appears he is giving in. Suddenly, one of his men kills the messenger standing between him and the emperor. The Persian troops began to shoot the Spartans down with arrows, but Leonidas managed to throw his spear. His spear slices open Xerxes’s cheek, wounding the supposedly divine Emperor and proving that even a god can bleed.

‘Leonidas’, Dark Horse Database
In '300' (1998), assailed by arrows and the death of his warriors, King Leonidas hurls his battle cry at Xerxes "Die", hurling an arrow at the Persian Emperor.
In ‘300’ (1998), King Leonidas hurls his battle cry at Xerxes “Die”, hurling an arrow at the Persian Emperor. Photo/Dark Horse Comics
In '300', King Leonidas' arrow injures Xerxes' right cheek. Photo/Dark Horse Comics.
In ‘300’, King Leonidas’ arrow injures Xerxes’ left cheek. Photo/Dark Horse Comics.

The story of King Leonidas and the 300 ends with King Leonidas injuring Xerxes’ left cheek and dying pierced by spears and arrows. The 300 die on the battlefield.

The story is a powerful myth. It made me consider possible connections between James Barrow and demons of a Greek origin.

As I continue my investigation, I remain haunted by these heroes of myth and wonder if what happened to them, will also happen to me. I am Ghost after all!

Visit ‘Leonidas’ at Dark Horse Comics.

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