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.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
13 Great Jack Nicholson Quotes
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Jack Nicholson turns 81 today. Let's celebrate with some of the actor's wit and wisdom.


"I hate advice unless I'm giving it. I hate giving advice, because people won't take it."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"


"Not that I can think of. I’m sure there are some, but my mind doesn’t go there. When you look at life retrospectively you rarely regret anything that you did, but you might regret things that you didn’t do."

From an interview with The Talks


"I'm Irish. I think about death all the time. Back in the days when I thought of myself as a serious academic writer, I used to think that the only real theme was a fear of death, and that all the other themes were just that same fear, translated into fear of closeness, fear of loneliness, fear of dissolving values. Then I heard old John Huston talking about death. Somebody was quizzing him about the subject, you know, and here he is with the open-heart surgery a few years ago, and the emphysema, but he's bounced back fit as a fiddle, and he's talking about theories of death, and the other fella says, 'Well, great, John, that's great ... but how am I supposed to feel about it when you pass on?' And John says, 'Just treat it as your own.' As for me, I like that line I wrote that, we used in The Border, where I said, 'I just want to do something good before I die.' Isn't that what we all want?"

From an interview with Roger Ebert


''There's a period of time just before you start a movie when you start thinking, I don't know what in the world I'm going to do. It's free-floating anxiety. In my case, though, this is over by lunch the first day of shooting.''

From an interview with The New York Times


"Almost anyone can give a good representative performance when you're unknown. It's just easier. The real pro game of acting is after you're known—to 'un-Jack' that character, in my case, and get the audience to reinvest in a new and specific, fictional person."

From an interview with The Age


"I never had a policy about marriage. I got married very young in life and I always think in all relationships, I've always thought that it's counterproductive to have a theory on that. It's hard enough to get to know yourself and as most of you have probably found, once you get to know two people in tandem it's even more difficult. If it's going to be successful, it's going to have to be very specific and real and immediate so the more ideas you have about it before you start, it seems to me the less likely you are to be successful."

From an interview with


“You only lie to two people in your life: your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”

From a 1994 interview with Vanity Fair


"They're prescription. That's why I wear them. A long time ago, the Middle American in me may have thought it was a bit affected maybe. But the light is very strong in southern California. And once you've experienced negative territory in public life, you begin to accept the notion of shields. I am a person who is trained to look other people in the eye. But I can't look into the eyes of everyone who wants to look into mine; I can't emotionally cope with that kind of volume. Sunglasses are part of my armor."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"


"I think people think I'm more physical than I am, I suppose. I'm not really confrontational. Of course, I have a temper, but that's sort of blown out of proportion."

From an interview with ESPN


"I'm a different person when suddenly it's my responsibility. I'm not very inhibited in that way. I would show up [on the set of The Two Jakes] one day, and we'd scouted an orange grove and it had been cut down. You're out in the middle of nowhere and they forget to cast an actor. These are the sort of things I kind of like about directing. Of course, at the time you blow your stack a little bit. ... I'm a Roger Corman baby. Just keep rolling, baby. You've got to get something on there. Maybe it's right. Maybe it's wrong. Maybe you can fix it later. Maybe you can't. You can't imagine the things that come up when you're making a movie where you've got to adjust on the spot."

From an interview with MTV


"There's nobody in there, that he didn't, in the most important way support. He was my life blood to whatever I thought I was going to be as a person. And I hope he knows that this is not all hot air. I'm going to cry now."

From the documentary Corman's World


"This would be the character, whose core—while totally determinate of the part—was the least limiting of any I would ever encounter. This is a more literary way of approaching than I might have had as a kid reading the comics, but you have to get specific. ... He's not wired up the same way. This guy has survived nuclear waste immersion here. Even in my own life, people have said, 'There's nothing sacred to you in the area of humor, Jack. Sometimes, Jack, relax with the humor.' This does not apply to the Joker, in fact, just the opposite. Things even the wildest comics might be afraid to find funny: burning somebody's face into oblivion, destroying a masterpiece in a museum—a subject as an art person even made me a little scared. Not this character. And I love that."

From The Making of Batman


"I've always thought basketball was the best sport, although it wasn't the sport I was best at. It was just the most fun to watch. ... Even as a kid it appealed to me. The basketball players were out at night. They had great overcoats. There was this certain nighttime juvenile-delinquent thing about it that got your blood going."

From Esquire's "What I Learned"

There's a Simple Trick to Sort Movies and TV Shows by Year on Netflix

Netflix is stocked with so many movies and TV shows that it’s not always easy to actually find what you’re looking for. And while sorting by genre can help a little, even that’s a bit too broad for some. There’s one helpful hack, though, that you probably didn’t know about—and it could make the endless browsing much less painful.

As POPSUGAR reports: By simply opening Netflix up to one of its specific category pages—Horror, Drama, Comedy, Originals, etc.—you can then sort by release year with just a few clicks. All you need to do is look at the top of the page, where you’ll see an icon that looks like a box with four dots in it.

Screenshot of the Netflix Menu

Once you click on it, it will expand to a tab labeled “Suggestions for You.” Just hit that again and a dropdown menu will appear that allows you to sort by year released or alphabetical and reverse-alphabetical orders. When sorted by release year, the more recent movies or shows will be up top and they'll get older as you scroll to the bottom of the page.


This tip further filters your Netflix options, so if you’re in the mood for a classic drama, old-school comedy, or a retro bit of sci-fi, you don’t have to endlessly scroll through every page to find the right one.

If you want to dig deeper into Netflix’s categories, here’s a way to find all sorts of hidden ones the streaming giant doesn’t tell you about. And also check out these 12 additional Netflix tricks that should make your binge-watching that much easier.



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