The Decade's Best and Worst Graphic Novel Adaptations

It's no wonder that graphic novels -- essentially pre-drawn storyboards featuring ultra-violent, supernatural plotlines -- are such an appealing sell. But caveat emptor, Hollywood-types: many come with fanatical fanbases that will make your lives living hells if you so much as get a single inkblot wrong on your anti-hero's mask. Even worse -- some are simply unfilmable. We round up for you now some of this decade's best, and worst, examples of graphic novel adaptations.

And a note for purists: The term graphic novel is being used here to also encompass limited comic book series that have later been published in volumes. OK! Let's begin...

The Best


300 (2006)

Before New Moon turned exposed male abdominals into a standalone selling point, and before Avatar set an angry tribe of spearchucking warriors against a 100% computer-generated landscape, there was 300. Director Zack Snyder's epic, homoerotic tale of martial bloodlust may not be a great film -- where factors like plot, dialogue, and convincing-looking hunchback turncoats are considered measures of greatness -- but as an example of the graphic novel adaptation, it's a gem. It retained the stark iconography of Frank Miller's illustrations and text, but also had the chutzpah to dive headlong into its ridiculous world of nose-jewelry-wearing Persian deities and thong-and-cape-bedecked Chippensoldiers. Somehow, it all worked.


A History of Violence (2005)

Suspense master David Cronenberg was an unlikely, but, as it turns out, perfect fit with this comparatively straightforward story of former mercenaries and mob retribution, based on the underselling 1997 graphic novel by John Wagner. The story adhered closely to its source for the first half, at which point screenwriter Josh "I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script" Olson took some creative liberties that paid off nicely -- William Hurt's contemplative, half-speed psychopath brother character being one of them. Cronenberg's unflinching taste for injury added a certain compound fracture c'est quoi to the proceedings.

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