It's no secret that comic book movies and shows have taken over the film and TV industries; it's been going on since the groundwork was laid out by movies like Spider-Man and the first X-Men film. However, adaptations are a hard game, and all the failed comic book films are a testament to this. For superhero movies, it's hard to take a given character's long comic book history and boil it down into a streamlined essence and plot that both comic lovers and non-fans can enjoy. For other comic adaptations, the story doesn't always fit into the span of a film, or maybe it's too short for a TV series. In other words, adapting really just requires a lot of... well... adaptation. It sounds silly and obvious to say, but there's no other way to put it; adaptation requires translating the elements of the comics into a film or television format, which usually results in quite a few changes along the way.
Even the most beloved adaptations changed a lot from their source material, cutting or rearranging story points, removing characters, streamlining plots, etc. Sometimes it's making a pastiche of a character's long comic book history, something that is easily digestible for everyone. Other times, it's about changing the story as the format changes from comics to TV or film. Whatever it is, there's no doubt that some of your favorite comics, character or storylines went through changes to make for a more effective adaptation. Even the most beloved adaptations had some major changes made to the source material, and we've got a list of them for you right here.
The first Hellboy movie is pretty great, and Ron Perlman's portrayal of the character is perhaps one of his most beloved roles. However, the film wasn't really like the comics at all beyond the basic premise.
In Mike Mignola's comics, Hellboy is depicted more like a working-class paranormal agent rather than the B.P.R.D.'s secret weapon. He was also less immature and intimidating, displaying a rather laid-back demeanor while dealing with crazy monsters. Liz and Abe were also a bit different as the former didn't have a relationship with Hellboy and the latter didn't have any psychic powers.
24 SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
Spider-Man: Homecoming isn't based on any one particular story arc of the comics, but instead is a combination of the character's basic traits and elements of the MCU. But, in trying to bring the character into the MCU, which had built a universe without some of Marvel's biggest players, Spidey lost some of his core elements.
The film doesn't suffer too much from this, but it was disappointing that Spider-Man's motivations seemed to rely a bit too much on impressing Iron Man and becoming an Avenger rather than making up for his past mistakes.
Arrow has had its ups and downs, but stands as a pretty solid adaptation, especially when you look at the first season. That said, everyone's pretty much aware that it is a huge veer from the Green Arrow comics it's based on.
Though the basic premise is still there — rich boy gets stuck on an island where he learns archery for survival — everything else is a gritty-CW-soap-opera filtration of the character that mostly takes from elements of Batman, including his grizzled approach to crimefighting and a number of his D-list villains.
Deadpool and Deadpool 2 are easily two of the best comic book movies in recent time, and like most great adaptations, it took the best elements and story beats of the character and his origins to make a streamlined, digestible film. But, as is the case with streamlining a character with a long comics history, a few things changed along the way, some for the better.
Deadpool's origins are mostly kept intact but without the inclusion of Wolverine's healing factor, an unnecessary detail. His personality also changes from his sadistic, early-comics days into that of a good-at-heart anti-hero.
While Wanted might not be anyone's favorite comic book movie, it definitely had a style that caught people's attention. But, as cool as the movie's curved bullets and over-the-top action sequences were, the film is ultimately a huge divergence from the source material.
The original comic wasn't about assassins, but rather a world where the supervillains had won and have been secretly ruling the world for years, with Wesley learning he is the son of an assassin villain that was part of the whole thing. Regardless of which story you prefer, there's no denying this change was huge.
The Kick-Ass film went pretty easy on the characters; yes, Kick-Ass gets the snot beaten out of him quite a bit, but at the end of the day, he still got the girl, he still beat the bad guys and he got to finish the fight with style. Heck, even Big Daddy's origin story was real in the film, wherein the comics, he made it all up.
In other words, the film was a bit more upbeat and optimistic with its depiction of "real life" superheroes. This approach made the film different from the comic, though both have their merits.
19 EDGE OF TOMORROW
Not many knew that Edge of Tomorrow, which later rebranded as Live, Die, Repeat, was based on a Japanese novel called All You Need is Kill. The basic premise of the novel was the same but it followed a much younger Japanese protagonist, named Keiji Kiriya, rather than an older American, and Emily Blunt's character, Rita, was American rather than British.
The novel also had a different ending, with Keiji being hailed as a war hero after Rita was KIA. Both the film and the book are great, but the white-washing Americanization of the film is definitely problematic.
18 SPIDER-MAN 1 & 2
The first two films of Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy are still hailed as some of, if not the best adaptations of the character. The film did what most superhero adaptations do, it took the general idea and core aspects of Spider-Man and put them into a streamlined story.
This method of adaptation paid off, but there was definitely one thing missing from Tobey Maguire's interpretation of the character, the quips. Spider-Man was known for cracking jokes with his enemies since his very first comic appearance, but Raimi's Spider-Man mostly lacked his fast-talking attitude.
Akira is a masterpiece of anime, there's no doubt about that, the frame rate and extremely fluid movements are a sight to behold. The story on the other hand? It's kind of all over the place and rather nonsensical.
There's a core story that shines through the messy plot a bit, but because the original manga was adapted into a film rather than a series, the over 2,000-page story had to be cut down to fit the runtime. In this process, a lot of the deep themes, slow-building plot points, and social commentary didn't make it into the film.
16 FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST
When it came time to adapt Hiromu Arakawa's Fullmetal Alchemist into an anime, the story had only just begun to unfold. Because of this, and by the request of Arakawa herself, the anime adaptation would take the basic plot and character and roll them into an original story.
As a result, the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime differs greatly from the source material and the second anime adaptation that adapted it more closely. This version definitely has its fans, but it is a far cry from the original story, making some strange choices in its adaption of the story.
15 CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
The MCU is kind of weird when you put it on paper; it's essentially the Marvel Universe without half of its biggest characters, the X-Men, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, etc. Because of this, movies like Civil War, had to change quite a bit to work around the lack of characters they had the film rights to.
The basic idea of Civil War is still the same, Cap's team and Iron Man's teams differ on a government decision regarding superheroes, but rather than it being a superhuman registration, it's about the Avengers being part of the Government.
14 X-MEN (2000) / X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
The first two X-Men films and X-Men: First Class are pretty great, they adapt the idea of the X-Men and the social commentary they represent into easily digestible films. That said, we've always wondered why both the first X-Men and First Class didn't start at the beginning with their adaptations.
So, why have we still yet to see the original five X-Men star in a film? We've seen all of them separately at different ages and in different iterations of the team, but we've yet to see an actual First Class grace the screens.
13 MEN IN BLACK
Men in Black is a film that not everyone knew was based on a series of comic books. Additionally, not everyone knows that those comics were based on the actual conspiracy that Men in Black exist in the shadows, dealing with the supernatural.
Some basic ideas made the translation from comics to screen, like the Agents' names and the idea of an organization tending to paranormal threats; in the film, however, the MIB deal exclusively with aliens rather than the demons, werewolves and other supernatural beings featured in the comics.
Just as Civil War didn't have the film rights to make a full-scale adaptation of the original comic, Logan also had to work around all the Marvel characters that were featured in Old Man Logan. The result was a much more bare-bones, old-man-western adaptation of the comic that made for a fantastic film.
On top of taking out the post-apocalyptic Marvel universe setting, all of the other superheroes featured and Logan's family, the movie also added Professor X and X-23 as main characters in a road-trip-like setup to find a safe-haven for mutants.
11 SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a great comic book movie, but it did change quite a bit from the source material. Part of this had to do with the fact that the comic had not yet concluded during the production of the film, but most of the changes made were to condense multiple volumes into two hours.
Some of these changes include streamlining the Evil Ex battles and making the story take place over a shorter period of time. Scott's personality was a bit different as well, Michael Cera playing him more awkward than the slacker he was in the comics.
Legion is very different to the comics version of the character; heck, it's different to the world of Fox's X-Men franchise... we think? It's pretty unclear, but what is evident is that David's depiction in the series is quite different from the comics.
In the comics, Legion has an army of other personalities (and mutants) living within him that take over his body and grant him different powers, as though he has multiple personalities that are real people. It's an interesting idea for a character that hasn't quite made it into the series, though who knows what will happen in Season 3.
It's no secret that CW's Riverdale is vastly different to the comics it's based on, the show uses a dark tone and elements of shows like Twin Peaks to give us a different spin on the classic comic characters. This approach has led to, shall we say mixed results, but overall the show knows how to play its tongue-in-cheek-ness in how it handles the soap-opera-like drama of Riverdale's politics, crimes, and inhabitants.
Riverdale might be a little strange and off-the-rails at times, but it's a good watch that pays tribute to the comics while doing is own, strange thing.
8 GHOST WORLD
Ghost World is one of Daniel Clowes' most beloved comic books, and the film adaptation ended up becoming a cult classic, despite a poor box office performance. The film adds a bit more to the story, including the character of Seymour, an amalgamation of various characters from the comic.
Seymour acts as a big part of Enid's story in the film, and since he wasn't in the comics, he stands as the major difference between the two, also standing as one of the things that gave the film's story much more focus and direction.
7 YOUNG JUSTICE
Everyone loves Young Justice, there's no doubt about it, but it is a huge veer from the comics of the same name. The original comics had a few different team members and didn't quite have the same focus as the cartoon.
Young Justice added an interesting element into the mix by making The Team a black-ops intelligence crew for the Justice League, a change that was pushed a bit more in season 2 and appears to have gone even farther in the upcoming third season.
6 BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD
A while back, DC animated movies tended not to explore the larger DC universe, focusing on one superhero and their story. One such case of this was Batman: Under the Red Hood, which changed a lot from the source material, including removing other DC superheroes who were involved in the original comic.
However, these changes, as well as a few other updates, were for the better, as Under The Red Hood was a much more streamlined, much more masterful take on the comic storyline. In fact, it's one of the best Batman movies of all time.
5 X-MEN: EVOLUTION
X-Men: Evolution made some smart choices in terms of its cast, picking some of the most popular X-Men as the main team and aging them down to teenagers as a means of combining the struggles of high school with the struggles of being mutants.
Because of this, we saw Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, Rogue and Cyclops depicted in the same age group. Additionally, the mutants went to a regular high school and only lived and trained at the X-Mansion, another unique change that made the series different, but interesting.
4 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic was a dark, indie series that combined elements from popular comics of the time like New Mutants, Daredevil, and Cerberus. The comics were dark and had a gritty indie vibe to them that was switched out for a more kid-friendly vibe when it came time to adapt it into a cartoon.
Though the animated series is incredibly beloved, it's nothing like the original comics beyond the basic premise, as it was developed to sell toys and appeal to kids -- two things that the comics definitely did not intend to do.
3 BATMAN '66
Batman comics of the 1960s were no doubt campy, but the 1966 Batman TV series dialed that camp up to 11, differing from the comics of the time quite a bit. But, the series is beloved for its cheesy approach, particularly the over-the-top villains, silly fight scenes and exaggerated drama.
The comics of the time were just as silly at times, but still focused on detective based adventures that didn't quite make it to the series. Though there were definitely parallels between the comic and TV series, there were just as many differences.
2 JESSICA JONES
Marvel's Netflix series, Jessica Jones is based on Brian Michael Bendis' Alias comics, which introduced the character to the Marvel Universe. This version of the character and her story were a bit different from the comics, though the series kept her main elements; she's a super strong private detective with her own investigation agency.
The main difference between the comics and the TV series was Jessica's past as the superhero Jewel, which was a big part of the character's past in the comics, but was cut from the TV version, a smart choice to help everything feel more grounded.
SyFy's Happy! TV series was based on Grant Morrison's comic of the same name, but since the comic was a short mini-series, the story was expanded quite a bit for its live-action adaptation.
The main events of the comic still occur in the TV series, but a few overarching subplots, characters, events and plot points where added to expand upon the world of the comic and give the TV show more substance to work with. Some of these changes included learning more about Very Bad Santa's character and seeing Nick and Happy go more places in their investigations.