Welcome to the Comics Stand, Moviefone's new column about comic books as they relate to the big screen.
In 'Red' -- opening this Friday, October 15 -- Bruce Willis stars as Frank Moses, a retired black-ops CIA agent whose identity is compromised, forcing him to fight for his life. If the trailers have been any indication, it's going to be an over-the-top action comedy about unstoppable killing machines. But what makes 'Red' different from other action flicks is that it's adapted from the sleeper comic book hit by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner.
'Red' -- the comic book -- is a much more serious tale of the price of freedom, government foreign policy and how training unstoppable killing machines tends to be a deadly mistake. Throw in some comedy and fill it up with co-stars like Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and John Malkovich, and you have a brand-new Hollywood action blockbuster.
For a medium dominated by capes, comic books have had a surprisingly big year for non-superhero movie adaptations. 'Red' was preceded by the great ('Scott Pilgrim'), the just all right ('The Losers') and the awful ('Jonah Hex'). Now that studios are wiling to mine non-superhero comics for new movies, it might be time to give them a few pointers. After the jump, check out the five best bets for non-superhero movies.
Writer/Artist: Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith's award-winning children's epic lends itself surprisingly well to adaptation for the big screen. The story is similar enough to 'Lord of the Rings' in structure that you can break the action up into easy, bite-size pieces and not lose any of the action during translation. The 'Harry Potter' franchise is wrapping up, leaving a huge gap to be filled by another children's adventure series.
Of course, this one would have to be animated, or some unholy amalgamation of animation and real life, but it definitely has legs. Warner Bros. clearly agrees, having optioned 'Bone' in 2008, but we've heard very little news about it since. 'Bone' has a strong moral message, a diverse cast, and plenty of comedy to keep things moving along.
'CHILDREN OF THE SEA'
Writer/Artist: Daisuke Igarashi
Daisuke Igarashi's 'Children of the Sea' seems like a strange choice -- being a very cerebral work -- but it would work. Two children, Sora and Umi, were raised by dugongs and have to spend at least part of their lives in the ocean. Their bodies are adapted to deep-sea diving, and they have an otherworldly feel about them; meanwhile, a young girl named Ruka can't help being drawn to them. When fish in the ocean begin disappearing in blasts of light, Ruka, Sora, and Umi must figure out what's going on, and their place in the world.
Are the two boys human or not? How does Ruka fit into the mystery? There's just enough meat to keep adults interested, but the story is still kid-friendly.
Writers: Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman
Artist: Afua Richardson
Top Cow Comics
'Genius' has a high concept that instantly clicks. The greatest military mind of our time has just come to maturity in South Central Los Angeles, and the first thing she does is unify the gangs and kick the police out. She's using superior tactics, organizing a previously ragtag group of thugs, and making sure that the 'hood can police itself. If that means she has to provoke an armed uprising on the streets of Los Angeles to get a little bit of justice ... so be it.
This series is violent, fresh and the kind of edgy thriller that raises as many questions about society as it has explosions. It's reminiscent of the better blaxploitation films of the '70s, but with a distinctly modern spin.
Original Writer: Robert Kanigher
Original Artist: Joe Kubert
When's the last time you saw a straight-up war movie? Movies like 'The Dirty Dozen' and 'Where Eagles Dare' have fallen by the wayside over the past few years, replaced with high-impact, jump-cut action films. It's fair to say that the genre is ripe for a revival. Sgt. Rock is an old comics character just begging for a new chance at life. He's perfect for the kind of explosive World War II-based straightforward action movie that we didn't even know we'd been missing, and Easy Company, his comrades, are varied enough in personality and gimmick keep the action interesting.
There'd be no grand trick with Sgt. Rock, no clever winks at the audience. There's no message or big moral at the end. Just one man in a ripped shirt battling Nazis alongside his friends until WWII ends. It's simple and pure.
Writer/Artist: Kyle Baker
On the other hand, Kyle Baker's 'Special Forces' would be a war movie with a twist. Comics are great for doing comedy, and 'Special Forces' is a mean war comic with strong dose of sarcasm. If movie audiences are open to an off-kilter take on the War on Terror and Bush-era America, then 'Special Forces' is the book to go for. Everything that was said during the war, especially the false bits, is true in 'Special Forces.' Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, which were hidden in oil processing plants. Since Iraq wasn't invaded for oil, no American investigator ever managed to find them. 'Special Forces' specializes in a biting and mean kind of funny, but it's full of genuine laugh-worthy moments.
'Special Forces' stars a high school delinquent who suddenly finds herself in the midst of the War on Terror, and it doesn't take long for her action hero side to come out. It's part 'Team America' and part 'Green Zone,' but the bottom line is that it could be an incredibly funny action movie with a sarcastic edge.
Get more comic book news and reviews from David Brothers at ComicsAlliance.