In honor of the upcoming “Ghost in the Shell” live-action movie – adapted from Masamune Shirow’s manga series of the same name – it felt appropriate to precede the film’s weekend release by paying homage to other films in the genre. Here’s our top 10 greatest comic book/graphic novel adaptations:
1. “Watchmen” (2009)
Alan Moore’s alternate depiction of post-1939 history featuring a group of government-hired superheroes remains the graphic novelist’s magnum opus. Moore’s notoriety for despising Hollywood adaptations was taken into account when director Zack Snyder prepared to bring this grandiose narrative to the big screen. The fact that Warner Bros. greenlit such a violent, hypersexual and tumultuously bleak superhero film at all is a miracle. Yet Snyder’s adoration for the material was enough to entrust him with a film tragically ahead of its time. Had it waited another 10 years or so when audiences became fed up with the generic PG-13 formula and thirsted for something grittier, “Watchmen” would have been a massive hit. Still, it plays by its own gritty rules as a motion picture despite its frame-for-frame reverence to the source material.
This is a comic book film that refreshingly refuses to trim the fat. Instead, it garners our respect for its epic, heavily detailed unfolding and unapologetic noirish darkness. Cast members Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jackie Earle Haley leave indelible impressions that skyrocketed their respective profiles. Saturated with mythology the likes of which audiences had never experienced before, “Watchmen” is a comic book movie for those wanting to plunge, not shallowly wade.