8 Graphic Novel stories making their way to the screen
Not so long ago, it used to be the case that comic books and graphic novels were considered to be something aimed only at kids. Even when famous characters such as Superman or Spider-Man found their way to the screen, they were often translated either as animated cartoons or as light-hearted, lycra-clad protagonists in TV shows aimed primarily at younger audiences.
How times have changed. These days it seems every other record-breaking blockbuster is based on the characters from the vast, interconnected stories from the stables of Marvel and DC, and while films like Thor: Ragnarok still contain plenty of humour, others based on comic books and graphic novels, such as Hellboy and V for Vendetta, are much more grown-up affairs that aren't afraid to tackle dark and edgy subjects.
The stream of movies based on these stories looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, with literally decades of stories' and endless amounts of source material waiting to be adapted for the big screen. With that in mind, we've picked out a handful of stories from our huge range of graphic novels that are set to form the basis of films and TV shows heading your way in the near future...
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The upcoming fourth Avengers movie has been billed by Marvel as “the most ambitious crossover event in history”, and whether you think that's hyperbole or not, it's almost certain to be this year's biggest blockbuster. The finer details of the story featured in the upcoming movie have been closely guarded, but if you're looking for clues then you could do a lot worse than exploring the source material. That said, you will find some fairly major differences in the narrative of the Infinity War stories first published in the 1990s.
The first big difference is that the events in the upcoming Avengers movie actually started with the previous series of comic books, Infinity Gauntlet, in which Thanos acquires the infinity stones and sets out to destroy half the universe with a snap of his fingers. There's another major divergence too; James Gunn has confirmed that Adam Warlock, one of the main characters in the original Infinity War storyline, will not be making an appearance in the next Avengers film, although there have been strong hints that he will finally make his arrival in the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. In other words, you shouldn't expect to find too many spoilers in the original books, but as one of the most popular Marvel stories of the modern era the Infinity War collection is well worth investigating in its own right.
A relative newcomer to the Marvel Universe, Deadpool was the brainchild of Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, making his debut in New Mutants issue #98 in February 1991. Initially conceived as a villain, Deadpool was eventually given his own series in 1997, written by Joe Kelly. The character became something of a cult favourite thanks to his morally ambiguous nature, irreverent sense of humour and his habit of breaking the fourth wall, something that would later become a trademark under the stewardship of Christopher Priest. Kelly said of his experience writing Deadpool: “We could do anything we wanted because everybody just expected the book to be cancelled every five seconds, so nobody was paying attention. And we could get away with it.”
It was a similar story when a Deadpool movie was announced. Ryan Reynolds had been trying to get an R-rated Deadpool film into production for years before some test footage was leaked in 2014, prompting an overwhelmingly positive response from fans. That was enough to convince Fox to greenlight the project, but even then their budget was very limited compared to other Marvel movies. Despite this, Deadpool became the highest-grossing R-rated movie in history at the box office and a hotly-anticipated sequel is due in May this year. This time he'll face off against Cable (played in the upcoming film by Josh Brolin), a story you can find in Despicable Deadpool Vol .1
Aside from possibly Stan Lee or Jack Kirby, few names in the world of comic books inspire as much respect as Alan Moore. His work on projects such as V for Vendetta and his sinister take on Batman in The Killing Joke showed that it was possible to use the medium to tackle heavier subject matter, but his work with illustrator Dave Gibbons on Watchmen, first published in 1986, has been described by the BBC as “the moment comic books grew up.” Set in an alternate timeline where Watergate never happened, the story revolves around a group of masked crime-fighters who decide to hang up their superhero costumes in the wake of a public backlash against their vigilante activities. However, after several years in retirement, the group are forced back into action when it emerges that a mysterious figure is exacting revenge on the group, beginning to pick them off one by one in a series of grisly murders.
Although Moore and Gibbons sold the rights to their work in the 1980s, a film adaptation spent years in development hell before a feature film helmed by Zack Snyder eventually emerged in 2009, but many fans of the book felt that it was impossible to do justice to the source material in the space of a two-hour feature film. However, HBO have picked up the rights to develop a TV series and Damon Lindelof, one of the co-creators behind Lost, is currently developing the show for the network. Lindelof has hinted that it may not be a straight adaptation of the original story, but if you want the best introduction to the exploits of the Minutemen then look no further than Moore and Gibbons' original version.
Harley Quinn is most closely associated with the Batman stories, having originally been a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum who was assigned to therapy sessions with The Joker before Batman's nemesis succeeded in damaging and corrupting her enough to become her lover. But while Harley was one of Suicide Squad's standout characters and has for years been an important part of Batman's story, she has yet to head up a film in her own right. However, it looks like we'll be seeing a lot more of Harley on the big screen, with a Suicide Squad sequel in the works and the character set to appear in another film currently in development: Gotham City Sirens.
But that's not all; in addition to DC stating their intention to make a standalone Harley Quinn film, Margot Robbie, who plays the role in Suicide Squad, has also said that she is working on a standalone Harley film of her own. If all of these come to fruition we could be seeing no fewer than four films featuring the Joker's psychotic sidekick heading to cinemas in the near future. Suicide Squad 2 will probably be the first of these, and it's too early to say which of Harley Quinn's storylines the standalone films will follow, but keep your eyes peeled for more in the next few years.
Ezra Miller's scene-stealing performance as Barry Allen's speedster alter-ego was one of the highlights of 2017's Justice League and a standalone movie has been on the cards for some time now, although we'll still have to wait a little longer for Miller's moment of glory with a release date currently pencilled in for 2020. The project hasn't been without its issues, with two directors having been attached and subsequently leaving the film over “creative differences”, but DC and Warner Bros. will be hoping the third time's a charm with newly-confirmed co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein now helming the film.
While the character has been around since his first appearance in Flash Comics in 1940, it was announced at 2017's Comic-con that the narrative for the new film will be based around the events in the Flashpoint series, which presents some intriguing possibilities. In this story, Flash attempts to save the life of his mother by using his speed to reverse time but ends up creating a rift and an alternate universe in which Aquaman and Wonder Woman are ruthless warlords battling for control of the Earth. How much of this will make it into the movie's script remains to be seen, but the idea of Gal Gadot as an evil Wonder Woman is a tantalising one that would throw a fairly major curveball into the DC universe.
The idea for Venom initially came from a Spider-Man fan named Randy Schueller, who simply thought it would be cool if Spidey had a new, powered-up suit, sending some sketches to Marvel's then-editor Jim Shooter. Several months later, Shooter responded and offered to pay Schueller $220 for his designs. Originally appearing in a Secret Wars story in which Fantastic Four's Reed Richards manufactures a new suit for Spider-Man, the pair soon discover that the material is a living symbiote trying to bond with Peter Parker's body and mind. After several failed attempts to remove the black suit, they discover the symbiote is sensitive to sound and Parker climbs into the bell tower of a cathedral to rid himself of its clutches. Needing a new host, the symbiote quickly finds Eddie Brock, a journalist who blames Parker for ruining his career.
It's roughly here that Venom's story really begins and a new film based on the Venom stories, starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, is set to arrive later this year. Ruben Fleischer is helming the new movie and while few details have been officially confirmed, it is understood that the narrative will combine two comic book stories: Lethal Protector and Planet of the Symbiotes. Rumours of an appearance from Tom Holland's Spider-Man are yet to be confirmed, but we do know that the film will also feature another symbiote, Carnage, who is set to be the primary antagonist.
Nightwing's genesis story is kind of a messy one and while most people usually associate the character with Batman, Nightwing's first appearance actually occurred in a Superman story from 1968, where the alias was used by Superman himself on his home planet of Krypton, as well as by one of Superman's cousins. However, the character was later revived as the alter-ego of Dick Grayson, best-known as Batman's young sidekick Robin, but who adopts the Nightwing persona after he and the caped crusader go their separate ways.
It's this version of Nightwing's story that is set to form the basis for a new film directed by Chris McKay, one of the men behind Adult Swim's long-running comedy series Robot Chicken and the director of The LEGO Batman Movie. However, following the recent news that McKay is set to direct a new Dungeons & Dragons movie, it seems that we'll have to wait a little longer for Nightwing's arrival on the big screen, but there's plenty of source material to delve into in the meantime and this collection of stories featuring Grayson's masked hero is a great place to start.
When Aquaman first appeared in More Fun Comics in 1941, his origin story and appearance were a little different from the version we know today; initially, he was the son of a famous deep-sea explorer who learned to live and breathe underwater through training and “a hundred scientific secrets”. Being a wartime creation, most of his adversaries in those days were Nazi U-Boat captains rather than the supervillains of the modern era. The character went through several changes before his backstory was completely re-written in the 1990s; now he was an heir to the throne of Atlantis, abandoned by his people on account of his blonde hair – considered a curse by Atlanteans – and taken in by a lighthouse keeper named Arthur Curry, who named the child after himself.
Although Aquaman has featured in animated series such as Super Friends, his first big screen appearance didn't arrive until 2017's Justice League, with the character played by Jason Momoa. A standalone movie starring Momoa is already in the works and is currently slated for release on December 21st. The basis of the story can be found in Aquaman (Rebirth) Vol. 1, which details Curry's dual struggle to be accepted by those above the waterline while fending off a rebellion from a group of Atlantean terrorists hell-bent on taking control of both Atlantis and the rest of planet Earth.