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“Cowboys & Aliens” and five other movies you might not know were based on comics

“Cowboys & Aliens” and five other movies you might not know were based on comics (photo)

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Jon Favreau’s big-budget blockbuster “Cowboys & Aliens” hits theaters this weekend, bringing Platinum Studios’ 2006 graphic novel to life on the big screen. But don’t worry if you didn’t know about the film’s comic-book roots, because you’re probably not alone.

Like quite a few films before it, the concept for “Cowboys & Aliens” originates in a comic book that isn’t nearly as well-known as mainstream titles like The Amazing Spider-Man and Batman. However, just because a comic book movie’s source material isn’t well known, that doesn’t mean the film was any less impressive — in fact, the lesser-known comics sometimes make the best movies.

Don’t believe me? Here are five impressive films you might not know were based on comics…


“A History of Violence” (2005)

This Oscar-nominated film starring Viggo Mortensen earned lots of praise for its tense, violent imagery, but the story of a diner owner who’s thrust into the spotlight after killing two robbers had its roots in a 1997 graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke. Wagner is probably best known for creating the character of Judge Dredd, another character who found his way to the big screen (first in 1995, and again in an upcoming film). While the movie stayed true the source material for much of the story, director David Cronenberg and screenwriter Josh Olsen took significant liberties with the second half of the comic book’s tale.


“Men in Black” (1997)

Originally published as a three-issue series in 1990, The Men In Black comic book provided the inspiration for Columbia Pictures’ blockbuster science-fiction film franchise starring Will Smith and Tommie Lee Jones. The comic was created by writer Lowell Cunningham and artist Sandy Carruthers, and was followed by a second three-issue series in 1991. While the “Men In Black” films were known for injecting humor into Agent J and Agent K’s efforts to protect Earth and the extraterrestrial immigrants living there, the original comic was actually quite dark — with the agents often killing witnesses to alien presence on the planet instead of erasing their memories.


“Road to Perdition” (2002)

Director Sam Mendes’ 2002 film won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, but the story of mob enforcer Michael Sullivan and his son was first told in a 1998 graphic novel by writer Max Allan Collins and artist Richard Piers Rayner. A well-established mystery writer, Collins was inspired by the Japanese manga Lone Wolf and Cub, as well as the life of true-life gangster John Patrick Looney.


“Ghost World” (2007)

Yet another Oscar-nominated film with roots in your local comic shop, filmmaker Terry Zwigoff’s 2001 movie “Ghost World” was based on writer/artist Daniel Clowes’ 1997 comic of the same name. An indie darling, the comic found its path to the big screen shepherded by Clowes himself, who authored the screenplay for the adaptation and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. While certain characters in the movie are composites of multiple characters in the comic — specifically, Steve Buscemi’s record-collecting loner, Seymour — the movie is fairly loyal to the tone and story arc of the comic.


“The Crow” (1994)

Author and illustrator James O’Barr originally created “The Crow” as a method of dealing with the death of his girlfriend, who was killed by a drunk driver. First published in 1989, the gothic superhero series became an underground hit, and was eventually adapted into the well-received 1994 film starring Brandon Lee. Perhaps most notable for the death of its star during filming, the film and its comic-book source material went on to inspire multiple feature-film sequels, a television series, and a hit soundtrack. A new film based on the comic is planned for a 2013 release with Bradley Cooper attached to star. Most recently, IDW Publishing announced plans to reprint O’Barr’s early The Crow comics and publish a new set of stories based on the character.


What other movies with comic book roots are your favorites? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.