Fandom has certainly become a little more revered nowadays as movie studios are willing to pay big bucks to purchase the rights for that hot little intellectual property. They do this with the intent to make that popular book, cartoon, comic, video game or television show into the next big Hollywood blockbuster. This does come at a price most of the time, sad. Just because they bought the license, that doesn’t mean the people behind the making of the movie will stay true to the source material.
Now, just because the movie doesn’t actually follow what happened in the original source material, that doesn’t mean the film is bad. It just that sometimes these changes are so different, they didn’t really need to attach the original to it anymore. So, let’s go check out just five movie adaptions of books, comics, cartoons, video games or television shows that diverge widely from the original source material.
Books: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (adapted from Who Censored Roger Rabbit?)
Well, this is a little more hardboiled than you may think.
Crossovers are usually a big deal in the geek community. Things like Marvel and DC getting together to create a comic book event or just the idea of Freddy taking on Jason was an extreme big deal. The biggest crossover event, in my humble opinion, happened way back in 1988 with the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It was unthinkable to see the likes of Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny in the same scene together or see cameos from the likes of Betty Boop, Woody Woodpecker and Droopy Dog in one film. The special effects is also really well executed and holds up even by today’s standards. The overall story and mystery of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is also pretty good.
While the movie itself was very lighthearted, the source material, Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, comes off as very different. It’s much darker in tone and the central mystery bears very little semblance from the film adaption. For one thing, Roger Rabbit is murdered, hence the title. There’s also a rather satisfying body count in the novel as Roger’s bosses are also axed during the story. The central mystery does seem a little weird but, then again, it is a book that features comic strip characters such as Dick Tracy and Hagar the Horrible, so “a little weird” should be par for the course.
Television Shows: Fantasy Island (adapted from Fantasy Island drama series)
This is definitely not your parent’s Fantasy Island!
The original Fantasy Island can be thought of as a trippy show by today’s standards. The idea was guests would fly to an island where the enigmatic Mr. Roarke would grant their fantasies. These fantasies usually consists of fun comedic adventures or lead the guests to discover something about themselves. Typical feel good 80’s television.
Not so with the 2020 Blumhouse version of Fantasy Island as it leans into the more horrific aspects of what people may fantasize about. For some reasons, the guests’ dreams are now warped into nightmarish scenarios and they have to band together in order to survive their constructed “fantasies.” The truly odd thing about the film is that it can be thought of a prequel to the original series, which comes off as truly messed up.
Cartoons and Anime: Jem and the Holograms (adapted from the Jem and the Holograms cartoon)
I feel insulted by this film. And I’m not even a fan of the cartoon!
With this category, I had a litany of choices. That’s because Hollywood has no respect for cartoons and anime when they make live-action versions. So they would really alter the story, eventually making the movie a mere shadow of what made the cartoon or anime so great in the first place. But when it comes to making changes from the cartoon to live-action, the absolute worst has to be Jem and the Holograms. Mind you, there are much worse adaptions out there *cough*DragonBallEvolution*cough* but when it comes to honoring the original cartoon, Jem and the Holograms wins by a landslide.
The cartoon is all about a girl who uses a sentient machine to create holograms in order to change her appearance to become the pop superstar Jem. What is the live action movie all about? It’s about a girl who becomes a viral internet sensation because she sings one song and how she deals with sudden stardom. Oh, and there’s a quest where she has to recover the missing parts of a robot her late father created because he hid them all over the country. You can bet this film was critically panned by both critics and fans of the original Jem cartoon… and rightfully so.
Video Games: Super Mario Bros. (adapted from the Super Mario Bros. games)
The first did it the worst.
Let’s be honest here. If you tried making a live-action movie based on the Super Mario Bros. video game, especially in 1993, there were bound to be a lot of changes to the source material. But what the producers and scriptwriter did was essentially throw away any semblance of the game! Gone are the more whimsical aspects, like getting big by eating a mushroom, jumping over chasms and saving a princess from what is essentially a dinosaur-turtle hybrid.
What we got instead was a weird steampunk dystopian fantasy involving mutagenetic bazooka ray guns, underground cities where dinosaurs rule, technologically based jump boots, mafia run construction companies and, of course, Dennis Hopper as King Koopa. The only thing they did get right were most of the characters’ names. I say most because they named the captured damsel in distress Princess Daisy instead of Princess Toadstool. Then again, the writers may have based this on the Super Mario Land Game Boy games, which is more of a deep cut than an error. Nice touch there, writers.
Comics: Catwoman (adapted from DC Comics’ Catwoman)
This is what happens when you get a producer who doesn’t read comics… or watch superhero movies.
Warner Bros. already had a successful version of Catwoman in Michelle Pfeiffer when she appeared in Batman Returns. It’s actually because of this movie that a Catwoman spin-off was greenlit. However, the film languished in development hell for ages and eventually morphed into this monstrosity. The really weird thing is this movie has virtually nothing to do with the DC comic character! The only real similarities they have is the name Catwoman and she has a whip. Everything else was made up for the movie.
Instead of having the name character be just an athletic cat burglar, we instead got a woman who gets cat powers because it’s her destiny or some weird crap like that. The main character isn’t named Selina Kyle but Patience Philips. They didn’t even get the name of the alter ego right! The film won several Golden Raspberry awards… and rightfully so. You’re better off watching Batman Returns or even The Dark Knight Rises if you want a better introduction to the Catwoman character!
BONUS: Battleship (adapted from the Battleship board game)
The weird thing is, they could’ve made a good movie based on the premise!
If I were going to make a movie based on the Battleship board game, I would make it a war thriller. Have it focus on two admirals on opposing sides each commanding a fleet of ships. Have it set in a part of the ocean where the fog is so thick you can’t see the opposing ships. And they have their orders: destroy the enemy fleet. This would then become a tense battle of wits, where they have to fire salvos blindly and listen for clues if they actually hit or miss. Makes sense, right?
Instead, they decided to make Battleship a high-octane action flick where the US Navy has to stave off an alien invasion. They basically made Independence Day in the sea!
What other movies can you think off that just ignored the source material it was based on? Let me know in the comments section below!