The title of Duran Duran’s 1982 single “Hungry Like The Wolf” seems to be an apt description for Hollywood’s current state of affairs. Its absolute willingness to blindly option a comic book property, sometimes solely based on a solicitation in Previews – the comic industry’s leading monthly magazine for all comic book/pop culture related paraphernalia, completely boggles my mind. It boggles my mind because a solicitation is merely a snapshot of an upcoming book which hasn’t even been released yet. Even deciding to option a property only after a single issue has seen the light of day is an amazing gamble.
What’s even more disconcerting to a lifelong reader of comics like myself is the lackadaisical attitude prevalent among studio executives regarding their grasping of the property they’ve just purchased. Take for example the film “Wanted,” which starred Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman. The comic book itself is a fantastic piece of literature. The movie, however, bears little resemblance to the actual story in the comic. If not for McAvoy and Jolie, the film would have been an utter disaster – which isn’t saying much (my love for McAvoy only stretches so far).
I’m not disparaging comic books as a viable resource for movie ideas, obviously, nor am I discouraging studios from using said material for their film endeavors. I’m merely questioning their unflinching confidence that every comic book would make a fantastic film and or franchise without having any real idea what the story is about.
The other day I was listening to a Let’s Talk Comics podcast with Mark Millar in which he said his current creator-owned title “Starlight” had been optioned for a feature film by 20th Century Fox back in December of last year. Now mind you, this was months before the initial release of the series’ first issue. Fortunately at the time Millar had already been hired by Fox as a creative consultant, so this gives me a glimmer of hope that his being onboard for guidance will steer the proverbial ship in the right direction.
But all of this still raises a singular question: with so many talented writers looking for work who could possibly offer a studio fresh, creative, and original material which begs (if not screams) for a film treatment, why gloss over them in lieu of a tale you know little about? I suppose the simple answer is: comic books are hot right now.
For the love of all that is holy in the universe, please never let romantic comedies become a “thing.” Unless you can recapture the magic of Return To Me, of course.