When it comes to comic book movies, everyone always goes to the properties of Marvel and DC. This isn't a surprise. After all, Marvel and DC are responsible for creating some of the most famous characters of all time. But that doesn't mean that other comic books and graphic novels haven't been influential in their own way. In fact, a lot of them have been made into movies, whether one knows it or not.
This list will delve into some of the most surprising films that were actually based on a comic or graphic novel. Readers may be taken back by some of the entries, but without further ado, here are 10 obscure comic books that were turned into movies.
10. Road To Perdition
Before he directed Skyfall, Sam Mendes brought Max Allan Collins' graphic novel to life. Road to Perdition was not only one of Sam Mendes' best films, but it also has one of Tom Hanks' best performances. And as far as stellar father/son stories go, this one pretty much takes the cake. Unfortunately, it's also not incredibly well-known.
To most who actually saw it, the film just seems like an emotional, intense, and honest drama thought up by a couple of screenwriters. But the truth is, it was actually a graphic novel first. And that graphic novel was actually based on a Japanese manga series called, Lone Wolf and Cub. All of them are excellent, to be honest. But if you haven't seen the movie, it is absolutely one of the most underrated and obscure comic book movies ever made.
9. The Mask
The Mask may be one of the best Jim Carrey films, but it's not one that the majority of people care about anymore. And they definitely don't know that it was actually based on a comic series.
The character actually appeared in a comic strip in Dark Horse Comics, which was founded by Mike Richardson, in 1986. Although The Mask was fairly popular, there's just no way that its success was taken into account when making the film. After all, it was more of a comedic vehicle for the uber-popular Jim Carrey. Although other Jim Carrey performances have taken its spotlight in recent years, this one may be worth revisiting.
8. Ghost World
When it comes to successful cult films, Ghost World may just be up there with Donnie Darko. But this insightful and emotionally incisive flick was actually an adaptation of Daniel Clowes comic. Although the film has a very particular comedic and tonal style, the comic book art does as well. Most of which is done in glorious black, white, and baby blue.
The film starred Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi. Additionally, it featured a breakout performance by Black Widow herself, Scarlett Johansson. Both the movie and the comic contain a lot of big ideas, which nicely plays against the small-town setting.
7. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Everything about Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is reminiscent of the comic book. Whether it's the protagonist's superhero-like external goal—to beat his love-interest's monstrous exes—or the incredibly "in-your-face" visual style that has made those who are aware of its existence fall in love with it. Yes, it's true, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was not a box-office smash, but that doesn't mean it's not any good.
It's clear that director Edgar Wright truly loved this film's source material. The movie was based on Bryan Lee O'Malley's pop-culture saturated, manga-influenced series which is easily as good—if not better—than the movie adaptation.
6. Cowboys & Aliens
Of course, Cowboys & Aliens is based on a comic. How could it not be? Look at its name, for gosh sake. The 2006 comic, that the 2011 film was based on, does have a few missing pieces that the movie adaptation added. However, the film was pretty lackluster. This is incredibly disappointing since it stars James Bond and Indiana Jones, Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, respectively.
There's not a lot about the film that makes it special. That's probably why the film has slipped into obscurity the way that it has. This is pretty surprising given how bombastic and memorable its title is.
5. The Mystery Men
To say that Mystery Men is a weird and downright obscure movie would be an understatement. But the fact that it was made in the era between Joel Schumacher's Batman movies and the Spider-Man/X-Men revamp of the superhero genre is pretty cool. It just goes to show how ahead of its time this superhero farce was.
The movie itself was very loosely based on Bob Burden's comedy series, Flaming Carrot Comics. These comics completely spoofed all of the serious superheroes portrayed in the DC and Marvel universes. The same tone was transferred over to the Ben Stiller, Paul Reubens, and William H. Macy film.
4. Over The Hedge
You may not remember the 2006 animated film Over The Hedge, but the truth is, it was a very cute children's film. It also contained some pretty interesting and more adult themes. However, they pale in comparison to those of the comic strip that's been going strong since 1995.
The original comic is far more pointed and tackles subjects like consumerism and technology. But it tackles these subjects in a highly mocking and downright funny way, even when catering to children. The story follows a bunch of neighborhood critters who just want to get their hands on some good food. Both the film and the comic may be a tad obscure to most CBR readers, but both are entertaining.
Some stories work far better on the page than they do on the big screen. Or, perhaps it just takes the right level of freedom for a filmmaker to bring them to life. Whatever the case may be for R.I.P.D., the original comics were far better than the Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges 2013 film.
The 2003 Dark Horse comics themselves are pretty obscure. The entire storyline of cops who are tasked with maintaining order in the after-life is pretty bizarre. But in the comics, it works well. The whole thing is extremely cartoonish but equally as charming and downright fun.
2. Men In Black
The Men in Black comics may not have had Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones' character per se, but it wasn't far off from the trilogy of movies that it inspired. Yes, Men in Black was a series of comic books before they were ever films. In fact, the first movie followed a lot of the story beats found in the comics. The second film, however, diverged from the source's material quite a bit more.
The comics began being released in 1990 and continued all the way up until the release of the first Men in Black film in 1997. Both the comics and the movies are about a bunch of secret agents who work to keep the world safe from aliens, and aliens safe from the world.
Le Transperceneige may be an obscure comic for most mainstream fans, but for those who are avid readers, it's a classic. The series ran from 1982 until 2000. But it took until 2013 for it to be made into a blockbuster movie called Snowpiercer.
Snowpiercer should be at the top of everyone's "must-watch" lists if they haven't seen it. Korean director Bong Joon-Ho captures the essence of the series in a pretty compact story. The film has a lot of strong imagery and deals with a world that has been plunged into an ice age. The only survivors live on a constantly moving train with its own corrupt hierarchal system.
The film and comic series may be somewhat unknown, but it's currently being made into a TV series. So, hopefully, it will come out of the shadows soon enough.