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15 Non-Superhero Movies And TV Shows That Need Comic Book Adaptations

by  in Lists Comment
15 Non-Superhero Movies And TV Shows That Need Comic Book Adaptations

Last week, Boom Studios! announced that a “Clueless” comic is in the works – and everyone is hyped. Although the original Amy Heckerling film may be over two decades old now, the witty humor and ‘90s aesthetic of “Clueless” is far from forgotten. To this day, main characters Cher and Dionne are still a popular choice for BFF Halloween costumes. Clearly, such an iconic film deserves a new spotlight. And what could be better than a comic book expansion focused around Cher and her close friends struggling with senior year?

RELATED: 15 Indie Comics That Deserve Their Own Video Game

With “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” writer Amber Benson at the wheel, we can be sure that the new “Clueless” comic will fit right in with the feel of the original film. However, while we wait, let’s brainstorm some other movies and TV shows that could definitely use a comic reboot.

WARNING: this list contains spoilers for several films and Netflix properties.

15. STRANGER THINGS

Stranger-Things


Last summer, everybody was ready to adopt the adorable-yet-creepy psychic child Eleven, star of Netflix’s sci-fi show “Stranger Things.” Currently, we anxiously await news on whether or not she will return for Season Two. And, for plot reasons, it might be totally understandable if Eleven doesn’t come back. However, a comic series all about Eleven could definitely quench viewers’ desire to connect more with this character.

There could be serious comics focused on Eleven’s life prior to escaping the government facility. Through those, readers could learn more about Eleven’s relationship with her adoptive father, the ways she coped through life as a test subject, and even expanded info on the monster and the Upside Down. Or there could be more light-hearted comics to escape the tension of the series proper. Maybe there could be comics about silly things that happened when Eleven was living in Mike’s basement. For instance, what about an issue where Mike, Lucas, and Dustin try to teach Eleven Dungeons & Dragons?

14. BLACK MIRROR

Black Mirror


The British TV series “Black Mirror” is the latest edition in a long history of anthology shows about speculative fiction. Although “Black Mirror” itself takes place in the 21st century or in near-future realities, its ties to experimental old pulp sci-fi such as “The Twilight Zone” and “Tales From The Crypt” are not lost on viewers. In fact, one fan named Butcher Billy designed fake comic book covers for various”Black Mirror” episodes. These covers mimic the style of sci-fi/horror comics from the ‘50s, giving “Black Mirror” a timeless, vintage aura, as if it had been here all along.

Certainly, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to design real “Black Mirror” comics in this style. Comic adaptations of successful “Black Mirror” episodes could be marketed as old-timey prints just recently rediscovered. If done right, this could create the illusion that the creepy tales depicted in these episodes have always been around, and fans are only just now finding out about them. Which would certainly add to the theme of alternate realities present throughout the show.

13. KILL BILL

Kill Bill Volume 1


Quentin Tarantino’s film series “Kill Bill” is practically made for a comic book adaptation. With flat, graphic colors and bold patterns, the cinematography already looks like a comic. And that’s not even counting the times where “Kill Bill” went full-blown anime style while describing O-Ren’s backstory. Or the fact that the movies are literally called “Volume 1” and “Volume 2.” Let’s face it – “Kill Bill” is begging to be a comic series.

Plus, it would be an awesome one. For instance, just as O-Ren’s backstory imitates anime, there could be different art styles associated with each of the other assassins. Vernita Green could have a motif of ‘70s poster art, referencing her ties to the Blaxploitation star Jeannie Bell. Bill, living in the Mexican countryside, might have some of the Neomexicanismo movement thrown into his hotel. Or, rather than adapting the films outright, the comics could be prequels centered around The Bride’s life working for Bill or sequels about her trying to raise her newly-found daughter. There’s a lot of potential here.

12. PULP FICTION

Pulp-Fiction-Duo


Another beloved Tarantino film that could definitely use some comics is “Pulp Fiction.” This movie is well-known for its dark sense of humor and a non-linear plot that establishes the all-consuming world of crime that the characters are caught up in. At the end of “Pulp Fiction,” fan favorite character Jules Winnfield (played by Samuel L Jackson) decides to retire from his career as a hitman and travel the world on a meandering quest for spiritual enlightenment. Who the heck wouldn’t want to read more about that?

A comic sequel series could have readers journey along with a now-nomadic Jules as he deals with various moral dilemmas on the road. Jules would have to learn how to move away from his instincts as a trained assassin and relearn everything as he comes to new philosophical revelations. Plus, the comics, like the film, could be non-linear. They could portray Jules at various points along his moral development, progressing and regressing as the story demands. And we’d get to hear more of Jules’ favorite faux-Biblical passage Ezekiel 25:17 in all sorts of new contexts. It would be great.

11. MEMENTO

Memento Mirror Scene


Christopher Nolan’s independent film “Memento” is definitely one of his most experimental works. Focused around a man with short-term memory loss on the quest to avenge his murdered wife, “Memento” repeatedly jumps backwards through time to mimic the protagonist’s disability. As a film, this does a lot of cool things with its medium. It rearranges the narrative structure so that the resolution and beginning of the story occur close together and meet at a halfway point at the end of the movie. Therefore, the ending of the film, while not concluding anything, is still satisfying because it unites two arcs.

Yet the medium of film always has a set order to its scenes, even “Memento.” A graphic novel adaptation could get away with even more types of experimentation. In a comic, you can flip to whatever page you want at any time. The story could be arranged chronologically from beginning to end, but with pages dividing the scenes that instruct readers to flip to scene pages later, mimicking the format of the film. This way, there would be at least three ways to read the comic. You could read front-to-back from the start of the story to the end, back-to-front from the last scenes to the first scenes, or the way the movie is arranged.

10. INCEPTION

Inception Poster


One of Christopher Nolan’s more popular films “Inception” is also super innovative. In “Inception,” an espionage team has the technology to enter people’s dreams (and dreams inside of their dreams) to retrieve intel. Although there already is a comic prequel to the film, there’s definitely more comic book content that “Inception” could get away with.

There could be comics within comics, representing different dreams and mimicking the dream-within-a-dream concept of the movie. These comics could even be done in different styles by different artists, thus showcasing a lot of talent. Plus, in general, it’s easier to portray the weirdness of dreams through visual art than through live-action. A drawing or painting can effortlessly make fantasy beings and human figures look natural together, while mixed-media can indicate very quickly that two things do not belong in the same reality. The dreams themselves can get way more bizarre way faster in a graphic novel adaptation of the film or in sequel comics.

9. SENSE8

Sense8 logo


The Wachowski Sisters’ 2015 series “Sense8” has been praised for its handling of diversity (especially LGBT, racial, and global issues) in the world of sci-fi. Its first season won a GLAAD award for Outstanding Drama Series, and since then we’ve been awaiting Season Two. “Sense8” introduces the concept of “sensates,” a cluster of beings that share a soul and can communicate telepathically with one another. Although there are a few of these clusters, the TV show focuses on one group that consists of eight people who live very different lives, including a female kickboxer in Korea, a transgender hacktivist in San Francisco and a closeted gay actor in Mexico.

Already, the world of “Sense8” feels very epic and could definitely do well with an expanded universe. Spinoff comics could tell us more about the main characters. Or the comics could potentially ditch the main characters of the series proper entirely and teach us about some of the other clusters instead. Viewers still know very little about other sensates outside of the main group, and some side comics could allow for a whole lot of world-building.

8.  ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK

Orange Is The New Black


One of the biggest success stories of Netflix Original Series is “Orange Is The New Black.” This (very loose) adaptation of a memoir on life in an all-female prison is known for its nuanced cast of mostly queer women of color. The series launched the careers of many actresses such as Laverne Cox and Uzo Aduba. However, a common complaint among viewers is that the series spends too much time on one of its least-likeable characters: privileged yuppy Piper Chapman and her various love triangles.

Since Piper is the main character of the show and it is based on the author of the original memoir, she’s definitely not going away any time soon. However, make some comic book spinoffs of the series that spotlight different side characters, and you can easily work around this complaint. There could be comics all about the lives and pasts of fan favorites such as Taystee, Sophia, Crazy Eyes, Red, and Gloria. Comics could even allow viewers to get their fix of Poussey, who will unfortunately not be returning in the next season.

7. THE BREAKFAST CLUB

The Breakfast Club


Like “Clueless,” “The Breakfast Club” is another classic high school movie that still gets watched regularly. “The Breakfast Club” was groundbreaking back in the day for portraying the problems of teenagers as actually legitimate issues. There’s no cheesy love triangles and out-of-control parties here. Instead, the main characters live in a world where extreme academic pressures lead to suicide attempts, where abuse from parents causes kids to act out in public, where detention is an arbitrary punishment for things out of students’ control.

Many of these problems are still relevant to this day – and newer school problems have popped up in public consciousness as well. With the pressures of Common Core, increased standardized testing, the fear immigrant children have of ICE raids at school, trans students’ bathroom access and so on, there’s a lot of new stuff to discuss. “The Breakfast Club” could use an update, and the lower economic pressure of comics would help the franchise to get as political as it needs to in the modern day. “The Breakfast Club” could be just as hard-hitting in current times as it was in 1985.

6. MEAN GIRLS

mean girls


“Mean Girls” is basically the ‘00s version of “Clueless,” so obviously it had to be included on this list of movies and TV shows in need of comic book adaptations. Directed by Tina Fey, this movie is a hilarious satire about female passive-aggression and bullying in high school. People still love to quote this movie. If you’ve ever heard lines like “Get in loser, we’re going shopping,” “It’s like I have ESPN or something,” and “She doesn’t even go here,” they’re from “Mean Girls.”

One main plot point of the movie is the Burn Book, a diary the popular girls use to spread malicious rumors about classmates. It includes many lines hinting at ridiculous off-screen incidents that never get fleshed out. There could easily be a comic series explaining each of the entries in the Burn Book. Finally, after all these years, we’d know why that one chick made out with a hot dog (one time)!

5.  ZOMBIELAND

Zombieland Promo Poster


Released in 2009, “Zombieland” is an absolutely brilliant parody of zombie action films. Each of the protagonists starts off separately, surviving the zombie apocalypse in incredibly bizarre ways. For instance, nerdy Columbus maintains a list of survival rules that he follows religiously. Sisters Wichita and Little Rock scam other survivors for materials, often using the damsel in distress archetype to their advantage. Tallahassee destroys anything in his path just to find the last Twinkie. As the story progresses, the characters start learning to trust each other and work together, becoming a team by the film’s end. Since the film’s release, there has been constant demand for a sequel. And who wouldn’t want one? It would be amazing to see all the characters finally used to working together and combining their different strategies as they go on various new survival missions.

However, since members of the original cast have now become household names, the filmmakers have expressed concerns that they would not be able to afford a sequel. Should “Zombieland 2” wind up in development hell, a sequel comic series could tide people over. Even if it’s not as epic as a new film would be, we’d still be able to follow the wacky shenanigans of the original characters. There could even be a new entry in Columbus’ zombie survival rules to conclude each issue.

4.  HOCUS POCUS

Hocus Pocus


A staple of Halloween, “Hocus Pocus” is about three witches called the Sanderson sisters who are killed during the Salem witch hunts and then resurrected in the ‘90s. They then proceed to terrorize the town’s children, so a group of kids – including the teen virgin who accidentally summoned the witches – must stop them. Although villainous, the Sanderson sisters are iconic and hilarious. Plus, they have some memorable songs, such as “I Put A Spell On You” and “Come Little Children.”

Though by the film’s end the witches are defeated, there’s a cliffhanger in the ending that hints the trio may return. Therefore, there would be two easy ways to go about making “Hocus Pocus” comics. There could be prequel comics about the witch trio’s original lives in old Salem. Or there could be sequel comics about the Sanderson sister’s inevitable return. Either way, it would form a much-needed expansion to a cult classic that’s had no new content for decades.

3. DONNIE DARKO

Donnie Darko


Another (much more disturbing) staple of Halloween is “Donnie Darko.” This film focuses on a troubled teen with schizophrenia who can’t tell if his visions of the end of the world are prophecies or just hallucinations. The movie contains a number of haunting visuals, including the world’s creepiest rabbit costume. During the film, Donnie learns a great deal about time travel and alternate realities. He becomes essentially a protector of the correct timeline.

If someone were to create a comic series about “Donnie Darko,” they could have Donnie take on the role of an outside guardian to different timelines. He could be an unnoticed presence working to keep the world from time related disasters, occasionally guided by his rabbit pal Frank. Not to mention, Frank would look freaking awesome in comic form, especially considering he is shown in drawings throughout the movie. Spinoff comics would provide some new content for fans – and make everyone forget about that terrible sequel film “S. Darko.”

2.  MOANA

Disney Moana


Disney’s most recent film, “Moana,” centers around the daughter of a Polynesian chieftain as she embarks on a voyage to end a curse caused by the demigod Maui. One of the highlights of this movie is the focus of the Pacific Islander tradition of navigating across the ocean, which Moana learns how to do on-the-job. Although the main storyline is a hero’s journey with an inexperienced child protagonist, Moana herself gets way cooler the more she learns. By the end of the story, Moana has encouraged her whole island village to return to a life of seafaring, with her at the ship’s helm.

While this was a deeply satisfying conclusion to the movie, it leaves viewers wanting more content. There could easily be a comic series focused on an adult Moana, now an experienced seafaring captain, traveling to different islands and interacting with different deities and mythological creatures. Not only would it be a fun read, but the comics could potentially teach readers more about Pacific Islander cultures and religions.

1. PAN’S LABYRINTH

pans labyrinth


Critics have acclaimed the dark fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth” as one of Guillermo del Toro’s best works. Set in Spain just after the Spanish Civil War, the movie introduces us to Ofelia, ignored step-daughter of a rich fascist captain and lost princess trying to return to a fantasy world linked to the mansion’s labyrinth. Ofelia interacts with several creepy yet visually-stunning fantasy creatures and undergoes various trials to escape the brutal reality she lives in. One of these trials is the infamous Pale Man sequence, which is so scary that del Toro saw Steven King squirm next to him in the theater.

If the movie looks this good in live action, imagine how beautiful it would be in a graphic novel adaptation. Considering the emphasis on curves and swirls throughout the film, an art nouveau style (like that of Alphonse Mucha or Victor Horta) could really connect everything together. It could resemble an old fantasy book, just like the dark fairytales “Pan’s Labyrinth” is based on.

What non-superhero movies or TV shows do you want to see get a comic book adaptation? Tell us in the comments!