Hollywood has been the center of the movie industry for nearly one hundred years, and in that time thousands of movies have been released; many that are highly successful and critically acclaimed, and many more that are not. The problem though, is that 21st century Hollywood, and the movie industry as a whole, has seemingly run out of original ideas that make a lot of money. This is why for the past fifteen years, moviegoers have seen numerous reboots and sequels to past successful film franchises, as well as an influx of screen adaptations based off of hugely popular and well known book series, comic books, mythology, and video games.
The movies which make up Marvel’s cinematic universe, the Lord of The Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and unfortunately the Twilight saga, are examples of adaptations done well. All those movies mentioned ended up being very successful and profitable, and a big reason for that is because they stayed very faithful to the source material they were based on. The same however cannot be said about most other movie adaptations that, despite sometimes turning a profit, might have been more successful and better received had they not messed with their source material. Here is a list of 10 movies that butchered their source material.
10 I Am Legend
This movie shares very little similarities with the book it was adapted from. For starters, the infection in the movie transforms humanity into zombie-like mutants with enhanced speed and strength and seemingly minimal intelligence; in the book, the infection turns them into vampires with personality who are capable of speech and thought.
In the book, Nevilles kills his wife after she becomes a vampire and attacks him, and their daughter dies before the infection even happens; in the movie though, they both die simultaneously when the helicopter they’re in blows up after being attacked by some infected. According to the book, there’s no deep relationship between him and a dog. The endings are completely different too. The movie depicts Neville as a hero for discovering a cure for the infection and dying to ensure it saves humanity. In the book however, he is considered the villain, and is killed by the vampires because he threatens their lives and new human-like civilization with the cure.
9 The Legend of Hercules
This movie screws up its source material from the very beginning. It starts with Hercules’ mother, Queen Alcmene, praying to Hera for guidance regarding her warmonger husband; Hera answers by allowing Zeus to impregnate her with a savior who would be named Hercules.
The problem is that according to Greek mythology, Hercules is the byproduct of a one-night affair between Zeus and Alcmene, a byproduct that Hera hates. Later on in the movie, Hercules fights and kills a lion and allows his brother to take credit for it; in mythology, Hercules only kills one lion of importance, but only later on in life as the first part of a series of trials to gain acceptance after accidentally killing his wife and children.
After that, the movie has Hercules being sent to Egypt, where after a failed assassination attempt, he allows himself to be sold as a slave and returns to Greece as a gladiator where he then raises an army and defeats his mother’s husband. The problem with this, is that none of that happens in Hercules’ mythology.
Doom is an adaptation of the first-person shooter video game franchise of the same name. The plot of the game was simple: a portal to hell opens up on Mars and demons along with the undead come pouring out of it, and it’s up to a single space-marine to kill them all. When the movie was released in 2005, fans of the games expected to see the same non-stop gory action that made the games so popular; but that’s not the movie Hollywood made.
The movie was far less violent, and more story driven than the games ever were. It focused on a group of soldiers and a doctor sent to Mars to search for survivors of a recently attacked research facility on Mars. While there, they fight against the “undead” and a handful of creatures, who later all turn out to be facility residents who were mutated after being infected by a Martian chromosome that they found and synthesized after discovering the remains of a genetically engineered alien race; then, upon learning this, they have to stop the infection from spreading to Earth. Talk about over-complicating a simple story.
7 Dragonball Evolution
There are so many differences between this movie and its manga inspiration that there’s only time to mention some of the biggest ones. Goku is supposed to be a free-spirited and kind-hearted child with a tail in the manga; in the movie he is a gloomy teenager with no tail trying to become popular. The Mai character in the movie serves the villain Piccolo, can transform into other people, and later dies; none of that is true in the manga. In the movie, the Oozaru is a separate character that Goku transforms into who helped Piccolo attack Earth prior to the events of the movie. In the manga, Goku and the Oozaru are the same person, and he has no prior affiliation to Piccolo. The manga’s Oozaru can only be stopped by Goku getting his tail cut off, whereas in the movie, Goku gets talked out of the transformation.
When the series creator says that the movie studio wasn’t interested in using his ideas for the film, which he views as inferior to his manga, you know it won’t be as good as the source material.
There was no need to alter the origin of Bruce Banner and his Hulk alter-ego, but in Marvel’s first attempted solo Hulk movie, that’s what happened. In the comics, the Hulk is the result of an accident that sees Dr. Banner absorb a lethal amount of gamma radiation. In the movie, Bruce’s father develops a super soldier serum from modified animal DNA that makes the body impervious to harm, and injects himself with it before Bruce is born. After he is born, it’s revealed that Bruce has inherited the serum’s effects, and it is the presence of this serum within Bruce’s body that awakens the Hulk after he’s exposed to gamma rays. This movie also showcases the Hulk becoming more powerful after Bruce has a nightmare reliving a traumatic event, a trait not known to comic-book iterations of the character.
5 World War Z
If someone were to compare the 2013 movie to the book it is based off, they would see very few similarities. Both take place during a global zombie outbreak, but that’s where the similarities end. The book takes place in several countries from the point-of-view of multiple characters trying to survive the outbreak. The movie, which does take viewers outside of the US, only focuses on Brad Pitt’s character as he travels the world searching for a cure. The movie may share the book’s name and basic premise, but compared to the book, the movie is its own standalone story.
In the comics, Catwoman is a world-class thief, and a well-known adversary of Batman who can sometimes be a story’s anti-heroine. Catwoman has no superpowers, she relies entirely on her intellect, athleticism and skills with a whip and other trinkets to steal and fight. Unfortunately, the Catwoman solo movie took almost none of her source material into account. The movie makes Catwoman a straight-up hero, as she tries to stop a makeup company from releasing a dangerous product, completely ignoring the criminal aspects the character is known for in the comics. She also gains the abilities of a cat after being resurrected from the dead by an Egyptian God, something that never happens to the character in the comics. Luckily, she was still good with a whip in the movie though.
3 Batman and Robin
This movie nails Mr. Freeze’s backstory from the comics; the problem though, is that the movie changed his character from the dark, complex, and tragic villain seen in the comics, to one that had a joking attitude, with slight sociopathic tendencies.
The Bane villain depicted in the movie is an even worse deviation from the comics. This movie’s Bane is a criminal who gets injected with a strength serum by a doctor, and grows huge muscles while losing nearly all intelligence and basically becoming a mindless brute. In the comics, there is no doctor, Bane willingly injects himself with the serum, which does make him more muscular and provides him with super-human strength, but it also leaves his genius-level intellect intact, making him more dangerous than simply being Poison Ivy’s cinematic enforcer.
2 Attack On Titan
This movie is a live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese manga series of the same name. The story goes like this: what’s left of humanity now lives behind a series of enormous walls which protect them from the gigantic humanoid monsters known as titans; one day the titans break through one of the walls and humanity has to fight back.
The movie uses the manga’s premise, but alters almost everything else. In the manga, the military police don’t wear uniforms reminiscent of Nazis. There is only one Asian person left in the whole world while everyone else is of German and European descent; everyone in the movie is Asian. The Mikasa character gets completely undermined by having her important character moments rewritten and shortened. Entire key moments from the manga are removed from the movie, and the motivations of the other main characters are either rewritten or removed entirely. The movie also replaces the manga’s most popular character, Levi, with someone completely new and unlikable.
1 The Last Airbender
This movie was based off of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, and unlike other movies on this list, many fans of the source material refused to even watch it. The original series and movie are both about a boy named Aang who becomes the Avatar, a being who can manipulate the elements of earth, air, water, and fire simultaneously. Aang flees from his newfound responsibilities and traps himself inside an iceberg for 100 years; when he gets free, he makes new friends and sets out to learn how to control his abilities in order to stop the Lord of the Fire Nation from taking over the world.
The series is filled with Asian culture, and the main characters are all Asian; the movie though miscasts everyone as either white or Middle-Eastern. The movie is ultimately based solely on the first chapter of the series which consists of 20 half-hour episodes, which means the movie needed to condense nearly ten hours worth of story into just under two. This led to multiple characters and storylines being removed from the story, characters and storylines that became integral for Aang’s story later on in the series.