With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from various comic creators about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.
This Week’s Book: The Sword by The Luna Brothers
The Premise: Dara Brighton is a wheelchair-bound college student whose life is forever changed when three strangers brutally murder her family. When she accidentally discovers the mysterious sword the killers were looking for, it sets her on a path of vengeance that threatens everything — and everyone — around her.
The Pitch: Ever since this series reached its end in 2010, there’s been talk of a big-screen adaptation of The Sword — and for good reason. Packed with epic action sequences, globe-spanning adventure, and a fascinating mystery that slowly unfolds over the story’s 24-issue run, The Sword has all the makings of a summer blockbuster.
In the series, Dara is granted superhuman powers from a magical sword, and sets off on a quest to find the three element-controlling strangers who killed her family and left her for dead. Pursued by the government and accompanied by two friends, Dara’s journey takes her around the world and reveals some deeply hidden family secrets before it reaches its bloody conclusion.
A big-screen adaptation of the series could follow either of two paths: dividing up the series into multiple films or compressing the entire four-volume story into a single film. Given the difficulty many intended franchises have had with getting their second film made, one movie seems more likely — and since the series only spanned 24 issues, there shouldn’t be much need to cut material from the comic in order to fit it all into the movie.
Between Dara’s own, sword-given abilities (including enhanced speed, strength, and accelerated healing) and her enemies’ control over air, water, and earth, there’s a lot of opportunity for eye-catching effects in an adaptation of The Sword. Even more appealing, perhaps, is the fact that many of these effects occur on a smaller, more believable scale, instead of the usual budget-busting displays of CG spectacle. Not only does this make the adaptation’s budget a little more manageable, but it also makes the transition to the few larger, effects-heavy sequences less jarring. A movie based on The Sword would do well to take cues from a film like “Chronicle” when it comes to presenting its characters’ superhuman abilities.
The Sword comic also covers a lot of ground in 24 issues, which makes for a fast-moving story but limits some of the character development that could occur over the course of the narrative. This is one area of the story that an adaptation could actually improve upon, and bring an extra dimension to Dara and the supporting cast. This would also allow for a little more directorial and screenwriting flexibility — something that would certainly appeal to the project’s creative team.
The Closing Argument: As it stands in the comic, The Sword is already structured like a fantastic adventure film with plenty of action and just the right pacing to make an easy leap from page to screen. Given the right young, talented actress playing Dara, a movie based on The Sword could be the project that anoints the next female action hero.
Recent films like “Chronicle” and “District 9” have done a great job of balancing the need for cool effects with great character development, and an adaptation of The Sword should be approached with a similar focus. Handled properly, it’s easy to see “The Sword” as another film that comes in under the general public’s radar but surprises the heck out of audiences with its perfectly blended mix of story, characters, and effects.