If you're a Deadpool fan, you're probably biting your nails at what may become of him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. You may have recently read this quote from Ryan Reynolds about the freaky pale dude seen in the trailer: "That, I would say, is Deadpool, yeah ... When I'm in the scarred makeup too, and you'll see closer shots obviously in the film, and it's hard to even tell that's me, but you can tell. You've just got to find a better shot."

Now, a lot of fans are reading between the lines and insisting that Reynolds means that character will become Deadpool, and it's all smoke, mirrors, and surprises. But a lot of fans (like ScreenRant's Rob Keyes) are already irate, because what we're seeing onscreen is not the Deadpool of the comics. Forget the red and black suit -- people are upset about his admantium claws and laser eyes. But let's stop there -- I'm not going to analyze Deadpool, his appearence in the movie, or whether Reynolds is being evasive or not when describing his Wade Wilson / Deadpool / Weapon XI / Whatever. Instead, we need to talk about character fidelity, and the frustrations we feel the moment a script begins to stray from them, and what it is we want out of a comic book movie. Because I think it is important to be faithful to "those little yellow boxes," and that dedication isn't just the rantings of irrational fans.








Naturally, this topic has been touched on a lot this month with that little Watchmen movie coming out. You would have had to be deaf and blind not to see the cries of "Too faithful!" (You had to be a saint not to want to smack those saying it, especially after listening to "But it'll never be faithful to the book" from fans for the past few years.)
With Watchmen, it was damned if you do, damned if you don't -- and Variety's Brian Lowry noted that there's more leeway in changing Little Dorrit than there is in adapting comic books. There's some truth to that, but no director would willingly kill off Mr. Darcy for the sake of a plot twist ... but they'd happily kill off Cyclops.

Perhaps the first place to start might be wondering whether we do want an honest-to-panel adaptation. If you're a fan of a character, you can quote the origin story by heart. You know what was retconned -- there will be no surprises when you enter that theater, and the lights go down. There's something a little disheartening in that, and plenty found it stale when it came to Watchmen. One of my friends noted that he found it almost exhausting -- that he was so intent on waiting for that scene, and that, and was this going to be there, that he could barely enjoy the movie for its own sake on the first go. I knew how he felt. But at the same time, we were gratified because we could cross each moment off that mental checklist.

The idea that you should be "surprised" by a story and its characters is a relatively modern one. The ancient Greeks knew how The Iliad and The Odyssey ended. They knew about the rage of Achilles, and the death of Hector. The point was simply hearing it, and retaking the journey, not to be surprised because this version kills off Odysseus. No one catered to newcomers either. No one in the Anglo-Saxon era considered revising Beowulf for audiences who could care less about that Scyld Scefing guy, and might find the story "difficult" to get into because of him. You just had to hit the ground running. (Watchmen newbies had it easy in comparison.)

The idea that comic book fans are completely irrational about story changes is ... well, irrational. As fans of a genre that constantly retcons and launches into alternate and Ultimate universes, we're actually pretty cool about these things. I think all we want is a bit of respect for the properties. Just because the characters wear outlandish costumes doesn't mean they should be altered willy-nilly for the mass market. Superman falling to Earth to grow up homeless, hungry, and alone might make for a better story in a lot of ways ... but it isn't his story. Superman's story takes place in Kansas, and there are good reasons for that. We don't need a revision just because there are audience members who don't know anything about Krypton, nor do we want to be surprised by a director killing off the Kents for some new motivation.

The reason we want to see it exactly as it is on the page is the same reason we all still read The Iliad ... we enjoy taking the journey again and again. We enjoy the way this particular poet (in this case, a director and a silver screen) takes us on it. That's why Christopher Nolan and Jon Favreau succeeded so well; they gave it their own spin while keeping to the mythology outlined before them. The directors who think that it simply doesn't matter (and oh, the list is long) are the ones who incur our wrath. We'll soon find out what category Gavin Hood belongs in, and whether he takes the little yellow boxes seriously ... or if he just thinks Deadpool looks a lot cooler with claws.