Friday, August 8, 2008

10 Genre Properties Begging to Be Adapted - Part 2

I went through the first five in my previous post, now here are the final five.

5 - The Walking Dead - A grim, uncompromising and brutal story about a small band of people struggling to survive in world decimated by zombies, Robert Kirman's comic series is an engrossing endurance test. The zombies are merely the catalyst for this tale, which focuses on the survivors and their attempts to retain their humanity and morality in a world where all order and structure has completely broken down. No character, even the "heroic" lead Rick Grimes, comes away unscathed, as people commit compromise after compromise, leading them to cross moral lines in the name of survival.

Is it dark? Yes, sometimes unrelentingly so. And before you think of it as a typical zombie story; well it is and it isn't. Like the best zombie stories, The Walking Dead is far more about us than it is about monsters. So, I think it would make a great television series, but only on cable. HBO could really take this series and run with it. Like the comic, it could be black and white to minimize the excessive gore. Also like the comic, it could be compulsive stuff.

4 - Preacher - This property also comes from the world of comics, and would also work best as an HBO series. It's been in development for about ten years, and the reason why it's experiencing trouble will soon become apparent.

Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a reverend in a small Texas town struggling with an ever-growing sense of cynicism and disgust for his faith. Matters are not helped when the offspring of a tryst between an angel and a demon escapes from its prison in heaven and bonds with a human soul, namely Custer's. Custer reunites with his estranged girlfriend Tulip O'Hare, who is now a hitwoman and is traveling with an Irish vampire named Cassidy. Together, they set off to find God, who Custer discovers is a dysfunctional figure who has abandoned humanity whom he only created to satisfy his own sense of self.

Blasphemous, hilarious and outrageously offensive to pretty much everyone, Preacher has long been a favorite amongst fans for its sheer balls to the wall adherence to its purpose; to deflate any aspect of modern American society that is perceived as sacred. It would be television unlike anything seen on TV and would be controversial in the extreme. It would also be genius.

3 - Wonder Woman - Okay, Matrix producer Joel Silver has been in charge of bringing the Amazon to the screen for over a decade now, and pretty much nothing has happened. They got Joss Whedon from Buffy to work on the project, which was pretty much the best fit anyone could have asked for, and even his stab at the character didn't satisfy Silver. It's time to get the option back to DC and start over. With this age of comic movies in full swing, it's pretty lame that the single largest female icon in comics doesn't have her own franchise. She's got the strength of Superman, and the kick-ass, take no prisoners' attitude of Batman. She needs to be a priority.

2 - Dragonlance - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's fantasy novels have sold, oh, a bajillion copies since the initial tilogy was published in 1984. They're sort of the Stargate of the fantasy world; they've got their fans but they are still considered hugely nerdy, but they're perfectly enjoyable and great in their own way. It was originally created to tie in with the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, and is set in a similar sword and sorcery type of world. What connected with readers was the fact that the story distilled all of the archetypes of the genre, but in a soap operatic, relatable tone. Where Lord of the Rings feels Shakespearean in the slightly stiff tone of its narrative and characters, Dragonlance dealt with the interpersonal relationships of its characters in a more modern, down to earth way. Readers loved the melodrama, even if the dialogue was often cheesy and cliched.

So, why is it number 2 on our list? For all its faults, the first trilogy of Dragonlance would make three great movies. The story takes place on world called Krynn, during a dark period of their history when an evil god has marshalled her forces to take over the planet. Dragons, long thought extinct, return to wreak havoc. Six outcast adventurers find themselves embroiled in the conflict, and the trilogy follows them. Each of the six have their own conflicts and demons to overcome during the course of the story, which also features great set pieces such as battles with Dragons, epic armies, and undead soldiers. But the personal stories give the series its heart.

With some judicious adaptation done by a solid screenwriter, coupled with a director comfortable with epic battles and cgi wizardry, it's a licence to print money. But it would be expensive as hell. Please, please, please, do not judge by the truly interminable animated film that was recently released, which is diabolically bad.

1 - Green Lantern - I once heard that Jack Black was in line to play this icon from DC comics, which is an idea so bad it can only have originated in Hollywood. Basically, Green Lantern tells the story of Hal Jordan, a test pilot who one day is transported by green energy to the crash site of an alien ship, where he is told by its dying pilot that he has been selected to replace him in the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic organization of policemen. Yeah, it's a cop in space. Jordan is given a ring that can create any stucture he can imagine. Armed with this, he is assigned to patrol a space sector.

Cops in space. Cool idea. So basically, it's Superman meets Iron Man meets Star Trek. There would be weird alien creatures, super space battles and cool special effects. It would be a superhero story with totally different feel than the rest of the movies we've seen, which have all been resolutely earth-bound.

So there you have it. Anyone agree? Violently disagree? Care in the slightest?

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