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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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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