Adapting our favorite products to the screen is no easy task sure some properties are a bit easier to adapt than others but the general process is very difficult for numerous reasons. Many screenwriters and directors will shy away from adaptations because of several reasons
- They don't know what to do with the property
- They are very unfamiliar with said property
- They fear their ideas aren't welcome by audiences and fans.
I can't quite remember who said this quote but it was in regards to the adaptations in general and goes something like this:
"When adapting a property into a movie you have two options, option one is you make it for the die hard fans and risk alienating the mainstream audience, or option two you gear it towards the mainstream audience and risk pissing off the die hard fans, we had to find a middle ground between the two"
So there's a spectrum of movies especially comic book movies, do you change the story and lore to make it more appealing to a wider audience or do you appeal solely to the fan base and risk losing people who aren't fans or just aren't that familiar with the property in question? I've come up with a spectrum as it applies to comic book movies, Watchmen is at the far end on the fan side and on the whole the entire M.C.U at the other end.
I'm going to explain why I chose to put Watchmen at the far left, the Watchmen film at least when I viewed it, already assumes that the audience knows something about the characters and the world they inhabit. Unfortunately for someone like me who has heard of Watchmen but has never read it or ever looked it up online until after watching the film with my father (who knew even less about it that I did) we were utterly confused. The movie wasn't making that much sense to either one of us and came off as really weird, not weird as in "that's weird tell me more about it", I mean weird as in WTF weird. That isn't to say that Watchmen is a bad comic book adaptation, from talking to people who are familiar with the comics they say it is pretty faithful and I fear this is the problem I had.
I wasn't a fan of the comics.
So therefore I didn't particularly like the movie, I liked the Rorschach character and thought he was pretty cool and I liked his story in the movie it was just the rest of it that wasn't working for me, the Dr. Manhattan character just came off as really strange he looked like a dieseled naked version of the Blue Man Group to be honest.
And then we have the opposite end of the spectrum, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where they take liberty with the lore, for instance this entire time I thought Captain America's shield was vibranium in the comics but turns out its adamantium like wolverine's claws. Or in Age of Ultron, in the movie Ultron is created by Tony Stark, but in the comics it is Hank Pym (Ant Man) who creates Ultron. Also Ultron is very different from his comic book origins although his design is pretty faithful his personality isn't. From what I've gathered in the Age of Ultron comic book story line, Ultron is more of a vicious and less charismatic than his film counterpart. I think for a movie this charismatic and charmingly evil Ultron worked out better for the film as a whole. Also the Age of Ultron story line involves time travel and wolverine and honestly, Ultron is hardly in the comic the movie has only burrowed the title and has barely anything to do with the comic. So clearly the MCU is more geared for the mainstream than the Watchmen movie and it also clear by box office numbers too and I enjoyed Age of Ultron a lot better than Watchmen.
So with that bit out of the way, its time I moved on to my main point, fanboys and girls, look I'm not saying you shouldn't love a property but every fan base has this group of fans that are angered and enraged about the slightest change to a property. An example of such is Transformers, and I love transformers, every day when I got home from school I'd sit down and watch Transformers Cybertron I even have the DVD box set for the entire series somewhere in my house I have even gone back at watched most of the original 80's cartoons so no one was more stoked than me to see a live action Transformers film. Apparently the fan community wasn't and were more enraged with the necessary changes that had to be made in order to sell this movie.
What am I talking about? I'm talking about an incident where die hard Transformers fans allegedly hacked Michael Bay's laptop and leaked the concept art for the Transformers and fans went ape s***.
Michael Bay and friends received death threats and nerd rage over the robot designs. Why? Because they didn't look like their classic 80's designs and were noticeably different and in some cases drastically different. Look at the two Optimus Prime designs.
Obviously they're different in some drastic ways yet at the same time we can tell its Optimus Prime and I think he looks great for a big screen Hollywood blockbuster style film. So why were the fan's angry? Because it's DIFFERENT from what they love but let's face it, what worked in the 80's isn't going to work in today's world. Optimus Prime's 80's look is great for that time and for a kid's cartoon and all and even then its constantly being changed to fit new story lines and the direction and tone of the current adaptation, so why couldn't Bay and friends do the same for films? Regardless of how you feel about the films (I personally think they're decent fun dumb summer action films) can we all agree that sending death threats because you dislike an update of a classic character is ridiculous?
Fans can actually become detrimental to progress because of how resistant to change they can be at times because of nostalgia. These kind of fans want the same thing over and over again with little to no change and even then they aren't happy and will eventually start complaining about it and when a dramatic change does happen, they're the first to jump down the companies' throats. A good example of this is the recent DMC Devil May Cry came released by Capcom.
So Capcom wanted to try something new with the Devil May Cry universe by creating an alternate timeline and new world thus a new Dante and when his redesign first appeared on the internet, fanboys turned cruel.
Once again the die hard fans bombarded Capcom with pure hatred (you think I'm exaggerating?) I went to their forums after the first trailer and voiced my concerns in a reasonable manner I said I was on the fence with the new direction and that I was worried it would be too different because in the first trailer Dante's personality was more dark and brooding and I didn't appreciate it, whilst I voiced reasonable concern others went all out screaming on youtube and howling that the game be canceled. Now yes I agree this is a far cry from classic Dante and while I like classic Dante a lot new Dante makes more sense for the world of the new Devil May Cry franchise, but after playing the game, I like new Dante and I like old Dante as well in fact I'd love Capcom to continue both. DMC Devil May Cry for the most part had this reaction, fanboys hated it and everyone else who liked beat em ups and liked Devil May Cry but weren't super crazy about it enjoyed it and liked the re-imagining.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles suffers from the same problem, fans were enraged at the C.G.I turtles, I wasn't a fan of the decision to make them giant because of the fact they're supposed to be ninjas and being that massive makes it harder to be stealthy, but people were upset with the fact they were made in a computer. Would these people have preferred if it we use the dated effects in the previous versions of the films? I doubt the rest of us would've liked that and probably would've scratched our heads. There was outrage about a rumor that the turtles were going to be aliens are something like that and fans once again took to death threats some went as far to say, "Michael Bay (who only produced the movie) is raping our childhoods", first of all I think that whole statement is absurd especially since in the film the turtles aren't aliens and second "raping our childhoods" makes it sound like he has done something way worse than try to a make a movie. They were enraged about Shredder's more robotic look too. Would it have made sense to have the original Shredder there when the turtles are now upwards of ten feet tall? Would it be believable if he looked like his classic incarnation with these giant turtles?
I'm not going to say that the TMNT film was a flawless masterpiece, I had problems with the movie, but I gave it a shot I went to see it and surprisingly, I actually had fun with it, despite the flaws in it I had fun the turtles were funny as ever and the action sequences were well done, is it a great film? No not exactly but I went in expecting it to be a dumb summer action movie with some zingy one-liners and that's exactly what I got. I wasn't expecting a nostalgia trip that would satisfy my romanticized version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles like most hardcore fans were.
So to wrap all this up with a big bow around it, I'm not saying all fans are bad but those who aren't willing to accept changes to big screen adaptations or re-imaginings need to calm down a bit, look I'm not saying every change is a good change that needs to be welcome with open arms but when you are up in arms and making death threats and comparing alterations to rape, you need to calm down. Also look at the word ADAPTATION for a second what does it mean to "ADAPT"? To change based on the scenario or environment, therefore an ADAPTATION must adapt in order to stay relevant or in order to be good in the eyes of the public, well ideally anyway.