12 Movies You’ll Never Believe These Were Comic Book Adaptations!


Movies , Movies , Movies ! It feels like it’s happening every other month. A major comic book adaptation is hitting theaters or streaming. Major titans of the medium, like Marvel, have three shows a year, followed by two films releasing in theaters that eventually go to streaming. DC Comics might not be as quick and punctual as their competition, but they’re in the mix when it comes to getting their properties out to fans. There are gripes from directors like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Quentin Tarantino about superhero films and comic book movies becoming exhausted, which is fair. But for many years, stories outside the major universes that have graced the pages of major comic labels have been adapted to the big screen; we just may have not known it.


Unearthing Hidden Movies

It’s not all superheroes and capes in the films on this list. Some of these are great dramas, violent international action films, and big-budget science fiction stories that got A-listers to star in them. Some of these adaptations spoof superheroes a little bit. So, let’s take a look at some movies that you maybe didn’t know got their start on the shelves of your local comic book store.

12. Mystery Men (1999)

The superhero movies that we see these days give us enjoyment as they poke fun at the tropes of the genre. But a lot of what we see today owes some respect to Mystery Men, a late-’90s Ben Stiller starring film. Now, the connection between the film and comics is not fully there. Mystery Men is based on 1979’s Flaming Carrot Comics. The Bob Burden-created series follows a character by the name of, well, Flaming Carrot, who is part of a larger group of strange heroic characters called The Mystery Men.

The film doesn’t utilize Flaming Carrot but gets the tone of the comics down really well with its satire. Also, Mystery Men helped birthed “All Star” by Smash Mouth on its soundtrack.

11. Bullet to the Head (2012)

The French comic by Alexis Nolent goes by a slightly different name with its movies adaptation, Bullet to the Head. Du Plomb Dans La Tete, meaning ‘lead in the head’. The comic is a brilliant, action-packed read that gets no justice in the Sylvester Stallone-starring film. It’s a lazy, convoluted script under the direction of the great Walter Hill. There’s a strong old-school action vibe on the pages of the comic that does somewhat make its way onto the screen, but in the end, most people forgot about the movies.

10. Barbarella (1968)

The comic book series of the same name lasted from 1962 to 1964. Barbarella would hit screens by the decade’s end. The film, starring Jane Fonda, would become a cult classic and a time capsule of the late ’60s. The comic is a little more erotic than its adaptation. Although there are some things that were successfully brought over from the page that matched its mature tone (nudity, sex, and sexual conversations), the film does dial it back a bit. Barbarella was torn apart by critics at the time but makes for a great midnight movies these days. And is in order for a reboot starring Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney.

9. Ghost World (2001)

Ghost World is a coming-of-age dark comedy about two best friends about to graduate high school who are taking a hard look at what they really want out of life. Its underlying theme is about how long-term friendships can come apart. Now, at over 20 years old, it’s crazy to think that this was a comic series for four years that was then published in book form in 1997. The film changes a few points in the book, but for the most part, stays true to the writing style of Daniel Clowes original work. The movie is also one of the last movies in which you see Scarlett Johansen before she skyrocketed to fame.

8. The Fountain (2006)

The Fountain was a project that Darren Aronofsky went through hell to get made. The film was originally on a budget of $70 million and was set to star Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. The film was scrapped once Pitt dropped out. Aronofsky ended up taking his script about a man going through time to save the woman he loves and turning it into a graphic novel.

He ended up using that method to get the film back on its feet, this time starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. The budget was half of what it once was, so if you really want to get a feel for the bigger vision of what Aronofsky wanted, check out the graphic novel.

7. Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)

The graphic novel and film are about two young women who fall in love in France during the 1990s. Blue Is The Warmest Color began with Jul Maroh creating the original material, and Abdellatif Kechiche directed the adaptation. The ending is changed a bit, and unfortunately, the film is known for the sex scenes, while the book is so much deeper than that. The scenes made Maroh have some objections to the finished product of her adapted work. But all in all, what people love on the page of the graphic novel and the feeling the reading of it leaves with them are also matched on the big screen for you to connect to.

6. Bulletproof Monk (2003)

This early 2000s action comedy was a miss at the box office. Bulletproof Monk stars Chow Yun Fat and Sean William Scott. The film has some missteps in delivering comedy that isn’t really there to begin with in the graphic novel. Having played the career-defining role of Stifler in two American Pie films at that point, Sean William Scott doesn’t seem to fit in with the material.He plays the self-centered Kar, who becomes the understudy to Yun Fat’s noname monk. The comic was released a few years earlier in the late nineties; it almost feels like adapting it was Hollywood’s way of capitalizing on The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

5. Road to Perdition (2002)

Director Sam Mendes isn’t the type of filmmaker whose resume and persona shout comic book adaptation. Neither does his film Road to Perdition, but it is, and it’s actually a series of comics of the same sort of story. The Tom Hanks prohibition gangster drama is about a father and son who go on the lam after his son witnesses him perform a hit. Max Allan Collins based the series off of the 1970 Japanese manga series Lone Wolf And Cub (which also became a film series in the 1970s).

Collins’ version of the tale takes place in two eras: post-Vietnam America and The Great Depression; Mendes chose the latter for his film. It’s a drama with a star-studded cast that also includes Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig.

4. Oblivion (2013)

Like Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, Oblivion as a comic was sort of a way for pitching to the studio to make into a film. The film’s director, Joseph Kosinski, partnered with Radical Comics to produce a comic, and it ended up turning into the art work and pitch deck for Oblivion. In the end, he got Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, and Olga Kurylenko to attach to the film, and it got green-lit.

Oblivion is not technically a published comic, but years before the film was ever released, Kosinski and his partners were at San Diego Comic-Con handing out concept art for the project. If you search for it on the internet, you’ll find images of the unpublished comic. Now get ready for the topper in the list of movies Those Were Comic Book Adaptations!

3. A History of Violence (2005)

David Cronenberg’s tale of a common man whose secret past is revealed to his family after a violent act of self-defense, got its start as a graphic novel. Most comic book fans know this about A History of Violence, but the general film-going audience may not. A violent crime drama that doubles as a domesticated drama as well. Outside of flashbacks of the main character’s past not being used in the film’s script by screenwriter Josh Olsen, it’s a pretty spot-on adaptation and one of the greatest ones of all time.

2. Wanted (2008)

Since its 2008 release, a lot of people have caught on to the fact that Wanted is a comic book adaptation. Mark Millar’s series was published from 2003-2005 and made him a breakout success in the comic book world. The film’s high-octane action and “curve the bullet” special effects were a real crowd-pleaser for audiences.

However, the comics are more violent, and some of the characters and dialogue are a little tongue-in-cheek. Still, moviegoers come back to Wanted. It’s a fun action film with a major cast that includes Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and an early big-screen role for Chris Pratt. now get ready for the topper in the list of movies Those Were Comic Book Adaptations!

1. Old Boy (2003)

Old Boy was initially a Japanese manga series by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi. And it inspired both the 2003 cult classic directed by Park Chan-wook and the 2013 American version by Spike Lee. There are some changes made to Park’s adaptation that differ from the original source material. The themes of incest are not in the original manga; the hammer fight was also an addition by Park Chan-wook. The story as a whole is dark, but it’s the South Korean directors take on the material that really turns up the volume on the darkness of Old Boy. Which is why so many people enjoy this cult classic piece of South Korean movies.


In conclusion, the world of comic books has not only given us beloved superheroes and villains but has also provided a rich source of inspiration for lesser-known films. These hidden gems have graced the screens and left their mark on cinema history. From humorous parodies to intense dramas, these movies prove that the magic of comic books extends far beyond the realm of caped crusaders.


  1. Q: Are all the movies on the list superhero movies? A: No, some of the movies are not superhero films but are still based on comic books.
  2. Q: Are the movies adaptations faithful to the original comic books? A: While some adaptations stay true to the source material, others take creative liberties to suit the cinematic medium.
  3. Q: Can you recommend the best movies adaptation on the list? A: That would depend on individual preferences, but each film offers a unique and enjoyable experience.
  4. Q: Are there any upcoming comic book adaptations that we should look forward to? A: Hollywood is constantly exploring new comic book properties, so there’s always something exciting on the horizon.
  5. Q: Where can I find the original comic books mentioned in the article? A: Many of the comic books mentioned can be found in comic book stores or through online retailers.

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