Attendees at New York Comic Con felt the buzz this year, with a whole slew of exciting big movie previews. Of course, what’s funny is that many fans excited by the new experiences these fantastical titles are offering might not realize that quite a few are, in fact, based on books. And decades-old books, at that. We’ve previously shown how even classic novels can go through plenty of permutations. Now, as InkShares’ fantasy contest voting continues, it’s a great time to reflect on how stories can transform from print to screen, and how they can mutate even further once their adaptations become long, storied franchises.
War for the Planet of the Apes
This franchise has had an especially winding path. Caesar was actually introduced in the third movie of the original film series, Escape from the Planet of the Apes. And while this current series is a referred to as a reboot, the latest installments are actually loose remakes of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, which Caesar headlined in the 70s. It all started with French author Pierre Boule’s 1963 novel, though, which was an even stranger sci-fi satire than the Charlatan Heston flick everybody knows.
With all the nuances of literature, it’s tricky to explain the myriad differences between source and adaptation. Here are some highlights: the talking apes live in a much more modern society, a human astronaut conceives a preternaturally intelligent “starchild” with one of the wild locals, and bookends show the whole plot being observed by a chimp couple in a spaceship from an even farther future. Oh, and the original ending is more like the one in Tim Burton’s remake. How’s that for a twist?
Blade Runner 2049
It may seem like this 35-years-later sequel has taken a long journey to arrive, but keep in mind that the whole basis for this franchise, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was published 14 years before the first Blade Runner‘s release. Rick Deckard’s been hunting androids for nearly half a century, now. And yes, androids, not “replicants.” Neither that term nor “Blade Runner” are to be found anywhere in Philip K. Dick’s original novel. The book and movie are so different, it’s almost more to-the-point to just list which plot beats actually survived adaptation.
The most significant point, perhaps, spins out of the title, and it’s only briefly alluded to during the movie’s discussions of synthetic owls and turned-over turtles. Indeed, the novel’s main thrust revolves around house pets, of all things. After dystopic conditions cause many extinctions, owning an animal–real or artificial–becomes a big social status symbol. In a satirical flourish, people are more upset over a pet’s death than a human murder scene, and one of the biggest tells of an android’s inhumanity is its lack of empathy for critters. Perhaps this sequel will touch on that more directly. It seems more likely, though, that it’ll go in its own directions, with even less connections to Dick’s book.
Luc Besson has worn his Euro comics influences on his sleeve since the the Fifth Element, so it’s no surprise that his big budget adaptation of the iconic Belgian series, Valérian and Laureline, looks to be both loving and faithful. What’s ironic is that many moviegoers may see the fantasia surrounding this bickering would-be couple of Spatio-Temporal Agents and find it reminiscent of Star Wars–even though the opposite is true!
The comic debuted in the 60s, and its visuals very much influenced the look of that much more famous space opera. Its co-creator, Jean-Claude Mézières, was actually so amused by the similarities, he drew a short comic where Luke and Leia meet Valérian and Laureline at a bar. Of course, let’s stress once again how long it takes certain ideas to go mainstream, and note how that little comic was drawn in the early 80s.
See how stories and concepts can evolve? What other book-based franchises have taken radical departures throughout their lives in multimedia? Drop your thoughts in the talkback, and be sure to vote in our InkShares contest!
Featured Image Credit: 20th Century Fox
Image Credits: Fox, Warner Brothers, EuropaCorp