Hollywood Routinely Forgets the Superhero Comic Creators


The Conversation wrote about the pretentious filmmaker James Gunn’s plans for reworking DC movies, now that he’s been appointed the chief supervisor for Warner Bros. on the subject. And the adaptations in planning apparently include:


It also included some lesser-known and leftfield picks, such as the take-no-prisoners superhero team The Authority. The team’s co-creator, artist Bryan Hitch, found that out when everyone else did. “The Authority…?” he tweeted. “I’m glad someone told me…”



It’s not hard to guess what an adaptation of that overrated comic could be like. A whole excuse to emphasize Apollo and Midnighter’s homosexuality, right? Or even potentially anti-American viewpoints? On this note, I’m glad to a point if nobody told Mr. Hitch the overrated leftist mishmash he worked on looks to be adapted to the silver screen.


That said, there are plenty more examples from the past of creators forgotten during the making of a movie:


This kind of disrespect to comic book creators is nothing new. As recounted in Tom De Haven’s book Our Hero: Superman On Earth, Superman’s co-creator wrote a furious press release about the upcoming Superman movie in 1975:

I, Jerry Siegel, the co-originator of Superman, put a curse on the Superman movie! I hope it super-bombs. I hope loyal Superman fans stay away from it in droves. I hope the whole world, becoming aware of the stench that surrounds Superman, will avoid the movie like a plague. Why am I putting this curse on a movie based on my creation of Superman? Because cartoonist Joe Shuster and I, who co-originated Superman together, will not get one cent from the Superman super-movie deal.


Luckily, he and Shuster managed to draw more than enough attention to their cause and get backing to receive all the residuals and other credits they deserved. Which is a lot more than can be said for how things are being run today, where, if you’re even remotely a conservative-leaning pundit, the left is far more likely to turn their backs, and if Steve Ditko was as much a right-winger as he was a supporter of Ayn Rand, it’s a foregone conclusion they’re against him today, as they also are against Mike Baron.


But in any event, a point can be made that political leanings mean little to the moviemakers who turn their backs to even the most respected liberal writers and artists. And it’s clear that in the years since all the most famous are long gone, nobody in Hollywood has any genuine respect for them. Not even Stan Lee. The Conversation tried to justify the ignorance towards creators with the following:


There are multiple reasons for these tactics from Marvel and DC Comics. First is that the writers and artists create characters under strict “work-for-hire” contracts, granting the publishers full ownership. But it’s also that superhero movies usually aren’t straight adaptations of particular comic book storylines. They pluck what they want to use from a decades-long continuum of stories by a wide variety of writers and artists, making credits more complicated.


Unfortunately, there’s quite a few modern movies basing their screenplays on ingredients from comics written since the turn of the century. And the Authority was written around the early 2000s too. That’s why it’s not a particularly workable excuse to say credits are complicated, if the authors are already known.


Comic fans were heartened by Gunn’s announcements, as he pointed to comics by beloved creators for adaptation such as Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly’s All-Star Superman, and Tom King and Bilquis Evely’s Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow. These aren’t just a matter of ladling out characters, stories and themes from the expansive sea of superhero comics, they’re specific comics by specific authors. “Characters created by” just won’t do.


Yet another claim that’s disputable, even though it’s admittedly bound to allude more to movie audiences. Why should we be excited to learn Gunn and company’s idea for adaptations is to make use of overrated modern writers and artists’ stories? The examples given are some of the worst in that sense.


Gunn announced that comics writer Tom King has been acting in an advisory role for DC Studios, and hopefully this means he’ll be receiving more than a token payment and a “special thanks”. Most comic creators won’t be so lucky.


And that’s the problem. A writer like Mike Baron won’t be considered because of his right-wing standings, nor will Chuck Dixon by this point. A writer like King, who’s already signaled contempt for the audience and is very left-wing, is the choice of these overrated film producers for a story supervisor. If the movies they have planned turn out to be flops, it’ll be just as well. There’s simply no point in anticipating what looks to be a social justice mess of movie adaptations, including the Superman screenplay written by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Which leaves the question: when will these comic-to-movie adaptations stop? I’m not interested in seeing them. They’re just a whole waste of millions of dollars on special effects too.


Originally published here.

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Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1