I’m on the record as having issues with many movie adaptations, even of stories I love.  One of the primary reasons is in the matter of likenesses:  The character on the film is seldom the same as the character in your head, who will always be superior, because it’s your vision.  Witness Laurie Juspeczyk, a chain-smoking, cursing, occasionally overtly hostile woman in her late thirties, brought to the big screen as a woman ten years younger who bears none of Laurie’s charm, vulgarity and rage.  One of my favorite Stephen King short-stories stars David Drayton, a man who the story implies is an average guy in his forties who paints for a living.  In the film adaptation, he’s played by square-jawed, heroic Thomas Jane, fresh off literally playing a Marvel superhero.  Granted, it’s the least of the issues with that movie (I will decry the ending to the last of my days as Just. Plain.  Wrong.), but it does illuminate the dichotomy between reading a story and viewing it, leading to today’s adaptational query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced “hur-my-oh-nee”) always hears Deadpool’s voice as Neal Patrick Harris, no matter how enticing Ryan Reynolds’ teasers make the upcoming movie looks, asking: What’s the worst case of “Not The Character In Your Head” in your favorite pop-culture?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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9 Comments

  1. Ryan
    December 26, 2015 at 12:39 pm — Reply

    The entire cast of the movie “Sahara”. A fantastic romping adventure, and excellent escapist read, completely ruined as a movie franchise by Matthew McAughahohanay and Steve Zahn.
    Blech

    • December 26, 2015 at 4:13 pm — Reply

      I can see how that would be extremely disappointing…

  2. December 26, 2015 at 2:46 pm — Reply

    If its a movie adaptation of previously released material from other media, I treat it as an alternate universe story, because its NEVER going to be 100% what you expect. Saves me from a lot of disappointment. People seem to be fine with 12345th story of facist Superman in comics, yet everyone flips when theres one neck snap in a movie, so perhaps they should try that method as well.

    What Disney seems to be doing with with Star Wars is probably first time Im going to try treat every media as one canon, how that turns out is yet to be seen but I’m happy with their output thus far in both comics and animation beside new movie.

    Worst case and one that actually fits a description of too often used phrase of “character assassination” is probably Cyclops in X-Men movies.

  3. December 26, 2015 at 2:50 pm — Reply

    I have quite a long list of properties that I thought were terrible adaptations that really screwed up the transition of characters from the page to the screen, including “The Dresden Files” TV series, the “Eragon” movie, the “Percy Jackson” movies and so many others. Even some movies and series I enjoy, like the Hollywood adaptation of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and the TV series “Legend of the Seeker” felt like the character were way off from the versions I knew and loved from the printed page.

    But I think “The Dresden Files” TV series was the worst for me. All in all, it wasn’t a terrible TV series (though I wouldn’t call it good either), it just wasn’t a good adaptation of the source material. Most of the characters were unrecognizable to me other than names and a few similar traits with the characters of the source material.

  4. Lucas W.
    December 27, 2015 at 8:11 am — Reply

    The Garfield Movie.
    Cheese and rice, that was bad. I was forced to watch it on a plane and I fell asleep. On a plane. I can never sleep on planes.

    • December 27, 2015 at 12:42 pm — Reply

      I like to delude myself that the live-action Garfield films simply don’t exist and were a nightmare I had after being medicated after surgery.

  5. December 27, 2015 at 3:43 pm — Reply

    I loved the movie adaptation of “The Mist”, especially the ending. So many movies have happy endings, and that one was refreshingly tragic.

    As for “Not the character in my head”, I have one from my favorite movie franchise. Anakin Skywalker was definitely NOT what I pictured in my head. I thought he’d be cool, but he was a total douche. Pardon my French.

    • December 27, 2015 at 6:25 pm — Reply

      I think my discontent comes from the utter bleakness of that ending, especially given that the story it’s adapting ends with a literal expression of hope. Mileage will always vary, though, and I’m glad it works for you…

  6. December 28, 2015 at 6:02 pm — Reply

    I think the television Supergirl version of Jimmy (James) Olsen is a great example. There is no trace of the comic character in him. Choosing an actor of a different ethnicity is not the problem. The inaccurate look of a character does take me out of it a little, but I’m less concerned with how the characters look if they are acting the part. They aren’t even attempting to write Jimmy Olsen. The same is true of characters like Amanda Waller in Arrow and Leslie (Lee) Thompkins in Gotham (and most of the other characters in Gotham). There are plenty of young, beautiful, strong characters in comics; we don’t need to turn all the regular people from those pages into chiseled statuesque super-models. I imagine there are a few regular looking actors in Hollywood looking to fill the role of an awkward newsboy. Are they embarrassed to use the source material or just choosing to separate their properties from it so they can pave their own path?

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