Wikimedia Commons/Bryan Dugan
Wikimedia Commons/Bryan Dugan

11 Movies You Might Not Know Were Based On Comic Books

Wikimedia Commons/Bryan Dugan
Wikimedia Commons/Bryan Dugan

Sure, everyone knows Iron Man and Superman were comic-book heroes well before they made the jump to the big screen, but there's no shortage of movies out there with secret origins in the world of comics. Whether those movies are cult classics or Oscar nominees, they all share one thing in common: they wouldn't exist without the comics that inspired them. Here are 11 films you might not know were based on comics.

1. A History of Violence

Even director David Cronenberg didn't know his 2005 film about a family man whose secret past comes back to terrorize him was an adaptation of a graphic novel until the filmmaker was already discussing the second draft of the script. Screenwriter Josh Olson received an Oscar nomination for his adaptation of John Wagner and Vince Locke's original comic, which was published in 1997 by Paradox Press. While certain scenes were lifted directly from the graphic novel, much of the movie differs significantly from the source material, with Olson's screenplay putting a greater focus on how the main character's violent past affects his family.

2. Alien Vs. Predator

While the two movie monsters pitted against each other in this 2004 film were already Hollywood horror stars in their own rights, it was a 1989 comic that spawned the idea of bringing them together for a showdown. Originally published in the Dark Horse Presents anthology series, the brawl between the chest-bursting xenomorphs of the Alien films and the creatures from the Predator movies came about due to Dark Horse Comics' deal with 20th Century Fox for the license to both franchises. The popularity of the comics then helped the crossover make the leap to the screen with a brief scene in Predator 2 that featured one of the aliens' skulls in a Predator's trophy room.

3. From Hell

The gory, surreal story of a London police inspector on the trail of Jack the Ripper that was the centerpiece of this 2001 film originated as a serialized comic that concluded in 1996. Authored by celebrated Watchmen and V For Vendetta writer Alan Moore with art by Eddie Campbell, From Hell won several major awards during its seven-year run, including the prestigious Eisner Award for “Best Serialized Story.” The big-screen adaptation of the comic that starred Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, however, wasn't nearly as celebrated.

4. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Widely regarded as the film that was so bad it made Sean Connery retire from acting, this 2003 movie was also a loose (as in, very loose) adaptation of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's multi-volume series that first hit shelves in 1999. Where the original comic offered a cerebral, edgy adventure that wove together some of history's greatest literary figures into a single narrative timeline, the movie was, well ... not quite the film that Moore and most of the comic's fans (and movie critics) hoped it would be. In fact, Moore disliked the adaptation so much that he included a character resembling Connery's version of James Bond in subsequent volumes of the series, and portrayed him in extremely negative fashion.

5. The Mask

Not only did this blockbuster 1994 comedy help make stars out of Jim Carrey and Cameron Diaz, but it also played a big role in securing the future of Dark Horse Entertainment, the movie-production arm of Dark Horse Comics. The Mask was the first original comic from Dark Horse to make it big in theaters (and their second movie project after Dr. Giggles), and the ongoing comics and spin-off stories featured a long list of different characters donning the magical mask that imbued its wearer with all sorts of wild powers. The original series, which was based on a concept by Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson, was written by John Arcudi and illustrated by Doug Mahnke, and features a few scenes that were directly adapted for the movie.

6. Men In Black

Independent Canadian comic publisher Aircel Comics first brought The Men In Black to shelves in 1990 with a short series by Lowell Cunningham and Sandy Carruthers. By the time the comic found its way to the screen, Aircel had been bought out by multiple publishers, with the series finally landing at Marvel Comics in 1994. That was a lot of travel—and attention—for a series that only amounted to a pair of three-issue stories at the time, though Marvel was quick to release several additional spin-offs and a prequel comic when it was clear the movie had blockbuster potential. The original Men In Black concept also received a bit of a makeover on its way to the screen, with the studio toning down the violence of the source material and eliminating paranormal elements from the story. 

7. Red

Both the 2010 action film and the 2003 comic that inspired it were well-received by their respective audiences, but that's where most of the similarities between these projects end. Where the original comic by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner was a gritty, bloody thriller that unfolded over just three issues and featured a solo protagonist, the movie based on the book featured quite a bit of humor and expanded the cast to showcase an impressive ensemble of A-list actors. Ellis himself has acknowledged the vast differences between the two projects, and insisted that there just wasn't enough material in his original comic for a true page-to-screen translation anyway.

8. Road to Perdition

Max Allan Collins wrote both the original comic that inspired this 2002 film about a mafia assassin on the run from his former employers and the novelization of the film itself, which differs slightly from the source material but carries over many of the 1998 series' themes. While the movie toned down quite a bit of the violence in the comic (especially where it concerned Tom Hanks' character), Collins praised some of the biggest changes made by the studio—namely, the addition of Jude Law's character in the film. The success of the series prompted Collins to write several more books in the Road To Perdition series, each focusing on a different character caught up in the criminal underworld.

9. Timecop

A short story that appeared in three issues of the Dark Horse Presents comics anthology provided the source material for this 1994 film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme as a time-jumping action hero, and eventually led to both a television series and a video game based on the comic's concept. Writer Mark Verheiden penned the comic and co-wrote the screenplay for the film with Dark Horse founder and publisher Mike Richardson, and the movie remains one of Van Damme's most successful films to date. Sadly, the comic-book side of Timecop didn't amount to more than an adaptation of the film and the original, three-part series titled Time Cop: A Man Out Of Time.

10. Virus

Jamie Lee Curtis has made no secret of her distaste for this 1999 sci-fi horror film in which she played the leader of a salvage crew that discovers a terrifying creature aboard an abandoned Russian research ship, so it's no surprise that the comic that inspired the movie has kept a relatively low profile. Chuck Pfarrer originally penned the story as a movie script, but he sold the project to Dark Horse Comics after deciding that special-effects technology at the time couldn't facilitate a jump from page to screen. Dark Horse published the first issue of the Virus comic in December 1992.

11. Wanted

This 2008 film made heroes out of supervillains and was a surprise hit at the box office, but it never quite matched the subversive, graphic excesses of the hit comic that inspired it. Kick-Ass writer Mark Millar penned the original six-issue series that first hit shelves in 2003 and explored a world where the bad guys won and villains rule the world in secret. While the movie has little in common with its source material beyond some general themes and characters (and one or two early scenes lifted from the comic), the most noticeable difference could be the film's main character, whose look in the comic was clearly—and admittedly—based on rapper Eminem. Similarly, Angelina Jolie's character in the movie, Fox, shared few visual similarities with her comics counterpart, as artist J.G. Jones based the character's look on actress Halle Berry.

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
10 Fun Facts About Spice World
Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

In 1996, the Spice Girls took the world by storm when they released the song “Wannabe” from their debut album, Spice. Their mantra of “Girl Power” inspired a generation of young women to “Spice Up Your Life.” After Spice sold 31 million copies worldwide, the inevitable next step was the Girls starring on the big screen. So 20 years ago, on January 23, 1998, Columbia Pictures unleashed Spice World on American moviegoers.

In their film debut, the Girls—Melanie Brown (Scary Spice), Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice), Emma Bunton (Baby Spice), Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice), and Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice)—played comical versions of themselves. The plot revolved around them trying to perform their biggest show yet, at London's Royal Albert Hall, while a tabloid newspaper reporter spied on them. And their best friend went into labor. And Ginger Spice kissed an alien.

Director Bob Spiers recruited several British luminaries to cameo, with Roger Moore, Bob Hoskins, Elvis Costello, Jennifer Saunders, and Elton John among those who appeared in the film. The Spice Girls were so popular that Prince Charles and his sons, Princes William and Harry, attended the Spice World premiere.

The movie, budgeted at $25 million, grossed a robust $100 million worldwide, despite Roger Ebert giving it a half-star rating and writing that the Girls were “so detached they can’t even successfully lip-synch their own songs.”

Spice World was nominated for seven Razzies, and won one: Worst Actress, an honor shared by all five Girls. In a 2007 UK poll, it was voted the worst film ever made. But over the years the film has endured. Esquire suggested it was better than The Beatles’s A Hard’s Day Night, and the podcast How Did This Get Made? spent more than an hour debating the film’s ridiculous plot.

Though the best-selling girl group of all time disbanded in 2000, Spice World remains a relic of Spice Mania. On its 20th anniversary, here are 10 fun facts about the film.


Prince Charles and Prince Harry pose with Spice Girls Victoria Beckham Mel C

Barnaby Thompson, one of the film’s producers, started a production company with Annie Lennox’s husband at the time, Uri Fruchtmann. Lennox and the Girls shared the same manager, Simon Fuller. Over lunch, Fuller, Fruchtmann, Thompson, and Fuller’s brother Kim decided they’d make the movie. "We finished it within a year of that lunch," Thompson told The Telegraph. "That lunch was on November 1, 1996 and we delivered the film exactly a year later, November 1, 1997."


By May 1997, the Girls had four number-one singles in the UK, and were one of the most popular music groups in the world. To create anticipation for Spice World, the producers took the women to the Cannes Film Festival, even though the film hadn’t been shot yet. "We put out a photo call notice," publicist Dennis Davidson said. "The traffic on the Croisette came to a standstill, there was a screaming crowd, people hanging out of the windows, it was totally insane." An estimated 5000 to 10,000 people showed up to see the pop stars. The film shot around London between June and August of 1997.


Richard E. Grant attends 'Their Finest' after party during the 60th BFI London Film Festival at on October 13, 2016.
John Phillips, Getty Images for BFI

Richard E. Grant’s 9-year-old daughter was a fan of the Spice Girls and when he was offered the part of the Girls’ manager, Clifford, she told him he had to do it, despite his concerns about “my acting credibility.” “And she’d say, ‘No, no, you have to. You have to because I want to meet them,’” Grant told Vulture in 2014. “So I did, and she was so thrilled. I had school playground credibility for about two semesters and then of course you dip into the other side when they go, ‘No, I was never a Spice Girls fan!’ Now that generation has all come back around again going, ‘Yeah, we love the Spice Girls!’”


Alan Cumming played a less-than-Shakespearean role in the movie as a paparazzo-like guy named Piers Cuthbertson-Smyth. Ginger Spice was the one who suggested him to the casting department. “I remember seeing Alan Cumming performing as Hamlet [at the Donmar Warehouse],” she told The Telegraph. “When it came to Spice World, however many years later, it came to casting and we were going through pictures and I was like, ‘Let’s pick him, I saw him in Hamlet.’ It was brilliant to have that caliber of actors to be in our funny movie.”


The Spice Girls arrive atop a double decker bus for a screening of their new movie 'Spice World' in New York.

The 1978 British Leyland Bristol VRTSL3 double decker bus, covered with the Union Jack on the outside and a swing on the inside, made its debut in the movie. Though a bomb destroyed it at the end of the movie, in real life it was saved. However, after filming ended the bus fell into disrepair, until the Island Harbour Marina, located on the Isle of Wight, purchased the beauty and restored it to its original state. They put it on permanent display in July 2014. The only thing the bus is missing is Meat Loaf driving it.


In an interview with The A.V. Club, Elvis Costello said he loved Richard E. Grant’s film Withnail and I. “You know, I thought, ‘If I go to IMDb, I’m only a couple of clicks away from Withnail!,’” he said. Costello, who plays a barman in the movie, said he found his role to be “ironic.” “I’d only quit drinking a couple of years before, so I think the idea of being a barman was sort of ironic in my mind.”


Kim Fuller wrote the script (with additional writing from Jamie Curtis), which was originally titled Five. He knew the Girls might not like the script, or even read it. He gathered the ladies in a hotel in London. “I went in and said, ‘Look, turn your phones off, this is serious. I’m going to read you the story,’” he said.

They liked the story, and Ginger Spice contributed script ideas, even when she was in Bali. “I was spending hours on the phone trying to get it all sorted out and make sure that it was right,” she said. “By the time that we started, it was almost perfect.”


Fuller said he gave them daily script pages and then they rehearsed it. “You needed to catch them at the right moment, when the energy is there,” Fuller said. “They’re not going to do 20 takes of one line, you know, so you had to think quickly on your feet.” In the Spice World documentary, Mel B confessed that she and the Girls interpreted the script. “We contributed our own little sparkle on top of it,” she said. “There were some times when we’d say the lines wrong just to make us laugh,” Baby Spice added. But those improvisations caused the script supervisor to almost quit.

"The script lady went beserk and nearly resigned because we kept changing everything," Fuller told The Telegraph. "There were a lot of flowers and we consoled her for a while and everything was fine after that."


Their first album was such a massive hit that they needed to record their sophomore album to keep up the momentum. In order to fit in filming the movie and recording Spiceworld (one word), they had a mobile studio on set. They ended up writing some of the album’s—and movie’s—songs during production.

“It was quite good doing the album at the same time as the film because we were always hyperactive after a day on set and that meant we could go in the mobile studio and vibe off each other,” Posh told The Telegraph. They managed to film during the day and record at night. Virgin Records released the album on November 3, 1997, and most of Spiceworld’s songs made it into the movie, which meant there was an unofficial soundtrack.


Melanie Chisholm (Sporty Spice) at the premiere of 'Spice World'
Brenda Chase, Getty Images

Mel C told The Telegraph that the film was difficult for her to watch, but when her daughter and friends wanted to watch it at a birthday party, Mel changed her mind. “I sat down with them and I actually really enjoyed it,” she said. “I laughed out loud. It brought back so many memories, and I think enough time has passed for me to be able to watch myself. You know in a way, it is brilliant. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, very silly. And the thing that I really realized was there was so much of us in it. It was very, very real.”

Universal Pictures
Here's The Full List of 2018 Oscar Nominations
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

There are only two things that can get Hollywood’s biggest stars out of bed at 5 a.m.: an early call time or Academy Award nominations. The nominees for the 90th annual Oscars were announced on Tuesday morning, and represented a great year in movies.

Guillermo del Toro’s merman-meets-woman love story The Shape of Water leads this year’s nominees with a total of 13 nominations, followed by Martin McDonagh’s divisive Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which received nine nominations.

Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig both made some Oscar history with their nominations for Best Director: Peele is the fifth black director to compete for the statuette (joining John Singleton, Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen, and Barry Jenkins—none of whom have won the award) while Gerwig is the fifth woman to be nominated for the prize (in 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first female Best Director winner with The Hurt Locker).

The Academy Awards will be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel for a second time, and will air on March 4, 2018. Which movies will you be rooting for on Oscar night?


Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.


Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Meryl Streep, The Post


Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water


Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water


The Boss Baby, Tom McGrath, Ramsey Ann Naito
The Breadwinner, Nora Twomey, Anthony Leo
Coco, Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
Ferdinand, Carlos Saldanha
Loving Vincent, Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Sean Bobbitt, Ivan Mactaggart, Hugh Welchman


Dear Basketball, Glen Keane, Kobe Bryant
Garden Party, Victor Caire, Gabriel Grapperon
Lou, Dave Mullins, Dana Murray
Negative Space, Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata
Revolting Rhymes, Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer


Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory
The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Logan, Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green
Molly’s Game, Aaron Sorkin
Mudbound, Virgil Williams and Dee Rees


The Big Sick, Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
Get Out, Jordan Peele
Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh


Blade Runner 2049, Roger Deakins
Darkest Hour, Bruno Delbonnel
Dunkirk, Hoyte van Hoytema
Mudbound, Rachel Morrison
The Shape of Water, Dan Laustsen


Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Steve James, Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
Faces Places, JR, Agnès Varda, Rosalie Varda
Icarus, Bryan Fogel, Dan Cogan
Last Men in Aleppo, Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed, Soren Steen Jepersen
Strong Island, Yance Ford, Joslyn Barnes


Edith+Eddie, Laura Checkoway, Thomas Lee Wright
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405, Frank Stiefel
Heroin(e), Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Kerrin Sheldon
Knife Skills, Thomas Lennon
Traffic Stop, Kate Davis, David Heilbroner


DeKalb Elementary, Reed Van Dyk
The Eleven O’Clock, Derin Seale, Josh Lawson
My Nephew Emmett, Kevin Wilson, Jr.
The Silent Child, Chris Overton, Rachel Shenton
Watu Wote/All of Us, Katja Benrath, Tobias Rosen


A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square (Sweden)


Baby Driver, Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
Dunkirk, Lee Smith
I, Tonya, Tatiana S. Riegel
The Shape of Water, Sidney Wolinsky
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Jon Gregory


Baby Driver, Julian Slater
Blade Runner 2049, Mark Mangini, Theo Green
Dunkirk, Alex Gibson, Richard King
The Shape of Water, Nathan Robitaille, Nelson Ferreira
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ren Klyce, Matthew Wood


Baby Driver, Mary H. Ellis, Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin
Blade Runner 2049, Mac Ruth, Ron Bartlett, Doug Hephill
Dunkirk, Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo
The Shape of Water, Glen Gauthier, Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Stuart Wilson, Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick


Beauty and the Beast, Sarah Greenwood; Katie Spencer
Blade Runner 2049, Dennis Gassner, Alessandra Querzola
Darkest Hour, Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
Dunkirk, Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
The Shape of Water, Paul D. Austerberry, Jeffrey A. Melvin, Shane Vieau


Dunkirk, Hans Zimmer
Phantom Thread, Jonny Greenwood
The Shape of Water, Alexandre Desplat
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, John Williams
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carter Burwell


"Mighty River" from Mudbound, Mary J. Blige
"Mystery of Love" from Call Me by Your Name, Sufjan Stevens
"Remember Me" from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
"Stand Up for Something" from Marshall, Diane Warren, Common
"This Is Me" from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul


Darkest Hour, Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick
Victoria and Abdul, Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
Wonder, Arjen Tuiten


Beauty and the Beast, Jacqueline Durran
Darkest Hour, Jacqueline Durran
Phantom Thread, Mark Bridges
The Shape of Water, Luis Sequeira
Victoria and Abdul, Consolata Boyle


Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza, Mike Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi,  Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Chris Corbould, Neal Scanlon
War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Joel Whist


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