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While comic book movies like The Avengers, The Dark Knight, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice are based on comic books, there are also not-so-obvious movies based on comic books, comic strips, and graphic novels. These films don’t feature people wearing capes, but they are just as compelling, engaging, and out of this world as their superhero counterparts. Here are 13 movies that are surprisingly based on graphic novels and comic books.
- Oldboy. Based on a Japanese Manga from Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, Oldboy follows a man who is imprisoned against his will for more than a decade, only to be unexpectedly released without explanation. He seeks revenge on the people who captured him. South Korean director Park Chan-wook released a masterpiece based on the Manga in 2003, while American director Spike Lee released a very bad movie in 2013.
- Road to Perdition. Probably the most surprising movie on this list, Road to Perdition is a hard-boiled crime film starring Tom Hanks as a mob enforcer who is joined by his son to seek revenge on the people who killed his family. It’s dark and brooding, and a shift for Tom Hanks. It was one of the best movies of 2002 and one of the best graphic novels of 1998.
- A History of Violence. Like Road to Perdition, A History of Violence is one of the few examples where critics embraced the comic book movie genre. David Cronenberg’s 2005 film was nominated for Actor in a Supporting Role for John Hurt and Best Adapted Screenplay for Josh Olson.
- Ghost World. Terry Zwigoff 2001 film Ghost World remains a cult classic and one of the first movies where Scarlett Johansson shined on the big screen. It was based on Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel of teen angst, punk rock, and alienation in suburbia.
- From Hell. Based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel, From Hell was one of the first films adapted from his work during the 2000s, along with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, and Watchmen. He detested Hollywood and never took a dime for movie studios adapting his work Moore signed away his movie rights as a creator, so none of these films listed bear his credit.
- The Mask. The 1994 comedy starring Jim Carrey at the height of his celebrity was based on a comic book series that started in 1982 and finished in the year 2000. While the film adaptation of The Mask was a family-friendly film, the graphic novel is more rated R.
- American Splendor. While American Splendor is a biopic of comic book writer Harvey Pekar, it’s also a film adaptation of his life, as a working-class man and loyal husband, in Cleveland, Ohio.
- The Crow. While the movie The Crow is most known as the last movie from Brandon Lee, he died on set while making the movie, it was also based on a graphic novel from James O’Barr in 1989. O’Barr created The Crow to deal with the death of his girlfriend after a drunk driver killed her during the late 80s. While the comic book is more graphic and goth than the motion picture, both versions deal with death and revenge from an unlikely superhero.
- Weird Science. While the film’s premise seems like an entirely 80s concept, Weird Science is actually based on an anthology from the 50s. I’m pretty sure the comic book’s protagonists didn’t wear bras on their heads or try to have sex with mystery woman.
- Persepolis. The film adaptation of Marjane Satrapi’s biography and graphic novel (she also wrote the screenplay) of the same name, Persepolis was nominated for Best Animated Film in 2007. While it lost to Pixar’s Ratatouille, the animated film stands as one of the few stories that successfully crossed over to another medium.
- The Addams Family. While The Addams Family is based on a TV sitcom from the 60s, it’s also based on a series of comic strips from the New Yorker, published in the 1930s. I think the Addams Family needs a comeback in pop culture. It’s been more than 20 years since The Addams Family Values.
- 2 Guns. One of the surprise hit movies from the summer of 2013, 2 Guns is based on a comic series from Steven Grant and Mateus Santolouco 2011.
- Tamara Drewe. Stephen Frears’s 2010 film Tamara Drewe is based on a newspaper comic strip of the same name. It was a modern re-telling of Thomas Hardy’s novel “Far from the Madding Crowd” and follows a young woman growing up on a farm in England. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010 and was one of my favorite movies from that year.