Comic book movies are the big trend right now in Hollywood. Everyone is tapping into superhero lore and history to see what they can bring to life. Some studios are eyeing up smaller companies to build on smaller projects, whilst Marvel and DC are still battling it out for popularity amongst fans. Don’t tell us Marvel vs DC isn’t a thing, just look at the release date for Justice League and The Punisher! And with the popularity of Deadpool and Logan it’s no secret that studios like Fox will try bold and gritty projects.
But there is definitely a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Because whilst the uninitiated might think that comics and superheroes are childish and for younger generations, they would be wrong. Point them in the direction of Alan Moore to begin with, and they’ll soon realize that comic books have slowly become built on and thrive with controversy. The Killing Joke still resonates to this day. But there are some stories that no studio should touch, either on film or television. It’s a wonder that some of these stories were even allowed to be published. Here are 15 comic book stories way too controversial to ever happen on-screen.
15. FINAL CRISIS
Whenever Darkseid is involved, it’s almost inevitable that a story is going to be wild and “Final Crisis” is certainly adventurous and bold in what it strives to do. It involves all the metahumans in the world drafted into an army to fight the New God and his attempt to destroy Earth.
And whilst they manage to overcome his forces and put a stop to his plan, it come at the cost of Batman. Darkseid zaps him with his omega beams, killing Bruce Wayne. There’s no way any studio would make the risk of trying to kill off Batman. Yes, he’s not really dead and had been sent back to the dawn of time. But even that is quite crazy to do on-screen, risking millions in budget to pull off. There’s no way we’ll see Batman shooting a Radion bullet at Darkseid before being zapped into the past.
14. SINS PAST
When The Amazing Spider-Man 2 did a version of “The Death of Gwen Stacy”, it proved to hit the emotional mark, and seeing Andrew Garfield’s Peter break down as he realizes what’s happened was genuinely compelling. But imagine if the sequel twisted the story a step further and revealed that Norman Osborn had slept with Gwen?
Pretty gross. In Sins Past, it’s shown that Norman and Gwen had an affair before Green Goblin hurled her off a bridge to her death. She even gave birth to twins after fleeing to Europe, named Gabriel and Sarah Stacy. We know that Sony’s plans for their Spider-Verse were ambitious (maybe too much), but we doubt “Sins Past” even came up as an idea because of how disliked it is by fans, critics and everyone else.
13. BATMAN: THE WIDENING GYRE
Kevin Smith is well known within the comic book community, some love him and some hate him. The villain he created for his Batman series, Onomatopoeia, was a terrifying new menace. He only spoke when mimicking the sound effects of whatever horrific act he was committing. But before a twist at the end of the novel, Batman is working with a new vigilante called Baphomet.
The two are bonding when Batman tells his new friend about the time he had a ‘bladder spasm’ in the suit. Batman wet himself. Kevin Smith, one of the biggest Batman fans, made the Dark Knight soil the Bat-Suit. No studio will ever let that slip through into a script, imagine Batfleck’s version admitting that to someone. No chance. Bad move Kevin, bad move.
12. AVENGERS VS. X-MEN
The Phoenix Force makes its way to Earth in a terrifying display of power. It takes over several X-Men, pitting the Avengers against these new Phoenix twisted heroes. It was bold in what it was trying to achieve but ultimately the story was dragged out for so long it began to get boring.
And for a story that should be an epic battle, it became quite convoluted. Sure it made an interesting move in killing Professor X, but that was met with outrage from most that read the book. It’d be difficult anyway due to the rights issue, with X-Men over at Fox. We’ve seen Professor X die once in Logan, and that was heartbreaking enough. There’s no need to put us through it again.
11. SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN
Spider-Man has already appeared twice in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both times we’ve seen him, this interpretation has been quite grounded, showing Peter as he maneuvers his way through high school as well as being a superhero. So it doesn’t look like Marvel will want to radically change the dynamic that he has with the rest of the characters in the series very soon.
Because that’s exactly what Superior Spider-Man does, it kills off Peter Parker’s personality and replaces him with Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus. He vows to become a better version of the wall-crawler and hands out a vicious brand of justice. Chances of Marvel killing off Peter Parker and replacing him with a villain on screen? Pretty slim. Plus, they probably won’t bring a villain we’ve already seen in film back again. Oh well.
10. SECRET EMPIRE
Marvel’s most recent big event hasn’t been particularly well received by critics and fans because it made fundamental changes and leaps in storytelling that seemed like a step too far. The most controversial part of the story was turning Captain America into secret Nazi, even uttering the infamous “Hail Hydra” phrase.
With all the current social issues regarding racism, Nazis and oppression, does the world really need a live action adaptation of a story about a superhero secretly being evil? Quite frankly, no. Then there’s the issue of the story killing off various characters and introducing the idea of a sentient Cosmic Cube. It might just be a little too wild to adapt into live action, but that’s probably a good thing. Plus, there are so many pieces leading up to it like Tony Stark being an AI that would be difficult to bring to life.
9. DEATH OF THE FAMILY
This is actually a fantastic Batman story, as he struggles against The Joker who has returned to Gotham after an absence. But it’s his horrifying appearance and his antics that make this story too much for a live action adaptation. It pushes the villains look from clown prince of crime, to something closer to a horror movie serial killer.
The Joker has his face cut off, then straps the fleshy remains to his face as the exposed muscles are exposed. It’s quite honestly disgusting. And even though his assault on the Bat-Family is very captivating, it’s also nerve shredding. The moment we’ll definitely never see on-screen? Where Joker convinces the entire Bat-Family that he’s skinned their faces and their facial features are about to be served up as lunch. Nope.
“Ultimatum” is a wildly controversial storyline that sees Magneto mount an assault against the entire world. At one point in the story, after many disasters befall various cities, Hawkeye and Yellowjacket go looking for the Wasp. They find her, but they also find the Blob eating her. It’s a graphic scene as he chomps down on her body. Yellowjacket gets revenge the only way he can.
He grows to a huge size and bits the Blob’s head off. Two wrongs don’t make a right! But to begin with, the X-Men and the Avengers can’t exist in the same live action film or TV show, so that stops Ultimatum in its tracks there. And we can’t imagine Disney signing off on cannibalism and the brutal death of a hero. “Ultimatum” should just be left in a box, untouched by TV or film.
7. MIDNIGHTER AND APOLLO
Mark Millar’s stories are currently getting a lot of attention. But during the fourth arc of The Authority he takes his usual violent style and ramps it up to a near unbearable notch. Apollo is defeated and assaulted by The Commander, it’s a horrific moment. But it’s when Apollo’s lover, Midnighter gets his revenge that we truly recoiled in horror.
It’s implied that Midnighter pinned The Commander down and “attacked” him with a jackhammer in payback for the brutal assault. Assault is never a good plot point, and adding revenge-assault in such a brutal way makes this story impossible to bring to the screen. And although it would be great to see Midnighter and Apollo in live action at some point, this is one part of their story that should be left alone.
6. SPIDER-MAN: REIGN
Recently, we’ve seen how ageing heroes on their last legs can make for extremely gripping and entertaining films. Logan was emotionally driven, character based and not at all like a stereotypical comic book film. But there’s an aged version of Spider-Man that we’re not so sure should ever get the live-action treatment.
Spider-Man: Reign follows a lonely Peter Parker who’s given up the superhero role and lives alone in a Police State after the death of Mary Jane. How did she die you ask? Over explosion to radiation that was in every single fluid from Peter’s body. And we do mean every single one. Nobody needs to see a story where MJ dies because she slept with Pete. It mars the rest of the story that sees Pete fight his old enemies and even the semi-undead Doc Ock.
5. ULTIMATE COMICS: AVENGERS
Now before you say it — yes, plenty of elements from the Ultimate comics were adapted into the MCU. But our problem lies with the Red Skull and how he was created in Ultimate Comics: Avengers. The villain is tied closely to Captain America in a much deeper way than they were in Captain America: The First Avenger.
It’s revealed that Red Skull is actually Cap’s son. He was initially kept in a military base where he could be trained and tested for use in the army. But once he was strong enough he murdered the entire base and cut the “face his father gave him” from his skull. It’s a grisly origin. And his villainous antics only get worse, like throwing a baby off a balcony for example. That’s a version of the Red Skull that’s too terrifying for the big screen.
4. IDENTITY CRISIS
We’re only just getting a live action Justice League on the big screen, so it’s highly unlikely that Geoff Johns, DC and Warner Bros. will be eager to bring a hugely controversial story for the team after their first film. Let alone a story as divisive as “Identity Crisis”.
The story follows the murder of Sue Dibny, the wife of the Elongated Man. But as the investigation goes forward, it turns out that she was brutally assaulted by Doctor Light. It’s a horrific point in the story, and only gets worse with the way it develops Sue as a character later on. It’s so divisive because some think it’s a groundbreaking tale that re-adapts Silver Age characters. We’re in the group that think it goes too far.
3. SPIDER-MAN: THE FINAL CHAPTER
After a long tale about Norman Osborn vying to obtain more power from a ritual called the ‘Gathering of Five’, Spider-Man and the Green Goblin are mid fight when the villain reveals a devastating truth. Aunt May wasn’t actually dead, and the woman that did was a genetically altered actress.
The real Aunt May was being looked after by Reed Richards but had a device in her brain that if removed would trigger many bombs around the world. Spidey and Reed manage to save Aunt May, but it makes the original death meaningless and undercuts all the previous writing and character development of Spidey. There’s no way that Marvel will bring that level of deception into TV or film, it’s too much.
2. DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE
Whilst it might not have caused uproar from fans and critics like many on this list, Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe is still incredibly controversial because it crosses so many boundaries that only Deadpool could. Sure, it has the usual gore and violence of a Deadpool story, but the real controversy comes with the twist of the book. Spoilers ahead.
It turns out that Deadpool has discovered that he’s in a comic book. We’re not saying it’s a terrible decision to give Wade knowledge of our world, but is it too self-referential for even Deadpool? Needless to say, Marvel would never let Ryan Reynolds kill off their entire roster of heroes just to wink at the audience because he knows they’re watching. We’ve already had Deadpool break the fourth wall, no need to completely tear the cinema screen down.
1. THE CLONE SAGA
This Spider-Man story is problematic to say the least. With numerous versions of the wall-crawler all trying prove that they were the original, this series started to get confusing. The introduction of Kaine and Ben Reilly during 1994 was an attempt to boil the Spider-Man mythos down to the basics. But it managed to do the opposite.
It became something that swallowed up the entire run of The Amazing Spider-Man and the subsequent tie-ins. Story problems aside, it’s such a huge plot with many integral moving pieces to get these characters to certain places. There’s no way that a film would be able to adapt it into something usable in the MCU. A TV show could make a mild pass at the series, but it’s definitely got some difficult material to cope with. Let’s just forget “The Clone Saga” ever happened.
Which of these stories do you hope to see on-screen one day? Let us know in the comments!
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