Feb 12, 2018

5 Amazing Comics-Based Movies Without Superheroes

Superheroes are great, but most of us don’t want to watch them all the time, and some folks don’t even want to watch them much at all. Thankfully, despite what the occasional nightly news story or clickbait author might believe, not all comics-based movies are superhero movies. There are horror movies (Cellar Dweller, Jenifer), directly adapted from comics or a particular comics author’s ouvre, comedies (A Charlie Brown Christmas, Gemma Bovary), romances (Tamara Drewe), action movies (Bullet to the Head), thrillers (A History of Violence), even a porno or two (Grub Girl). From Addams Family to Death Note to Casper Meets Wendy, something for everyone!

5 Amazing Comics-Based Movies Without Superheroes
Travis Hedge Coke

dir. Iku Suzuki

If You’re Looking For… Mystery

The shortest movie on our list, at 60 minutes, this animated feature, adapted from Sanomi Matoh’s comic, sees New York police, Dee Laytner and Randy McLane, vacationing in England. I’m not going to spoil too, but there might be a ghost, and someone does take a motorcycle’s front wheel to the face. While indulging in a romantic rowboat excursion, Laytner and McLane find a corpse floating in the lake waters, and so begins an impromptu investigation, uncovering a history of grisly, racially-motivated murders.

Also, for… the sort of person who goes, “Gay couple on vacation! Cute gay couple on vacation!”

St Trinian’s
dir. Oliver Parker

If You’re Looking For… Comedy

The fourth or fifth film based on Ronald Searle’s comics, depending on how and what you count, it starts you fresh in, as new girl (and niece of the headmistress), Annabelle Fritton, enters her new school, the dreaded and much talked about, St Trinian’s. Just as she arrives, the school, itself, is under threat of closing, and while it is a vile, crime-ridden, drunken mess, where tweens are bootlegging liquor, it’s also the only place allowing tweens to bootleg liquor and they aren’t giving that up! So, how to acquire the money? Theft? Shakedowns? Kidnapping Scarlett Johansson?

Also, for… fans of Another Country who found the leads adorable and want them to flirt more.

dir. Rintaro

If You’re Looking For… Arthouse Pretty

CLAMP, the arts collective who created X (aka X/1999), specifically wanted classic anime director, Rintaro, to adapt the comic to screen. Because, how do you adapt into 90 minutes, over a dozen volumes of complex character interactions, explosive fight scenes, mad magic, and general prophetic weird visuals? You hire a guy who is most at home focusing on the explosive, the mad, and the weird, and don’t sweat the narrative and catharsis. Rintaro just goes for it. This is not a satisfactory narrative arc; it’s a bombardment of symbols and flash. And, it is gorgeous. Horrifying, entrancing, and gorgeous.

Also, for… people who want to watch a superhero movie without obviously watching a superhero movie.

Friday Foster
dir. Arthur Marks

If You’re Looking For… Crime/Adventure

This movie looks good. Every set is full and living. Every shot is immaculately framed. And, everyone reads off obvious cue cards and occasionally just straight looks into the camera like they love us.

Photographer Friday Foster (Pam Grier) is photographing the arrival in Los Angeles of the richest black man in America, when men try to murder him! Teaming with a private investigator (Yaphet Koto), she tries to uncover the roots of the assassination attempt and the related murder of a friend.

Also, for… anyone for whom the rest of these are too new. The late 70s live here.

So I Married an Anti-Fan
dir. Jae-Young Kim

If You’re Looking For… Romance

One of the funniest, sweetest films of 2016. After a disastrous encounter with a pop star, entertainment reporter, Fang Miaomiao decides to troll him and his fans as his number one anti-fan. Because, #@*% that guy. But, his people have a different idea: What if they put them together, 24/7, and made it a tv show?

Also, for… anyone who can admit they’ve been a cranky anti-fan at least once in their life. And, you have.

Note: Racist language in Friday Foster and St Trinian’s has not aged well, and would have turned off some folks even during first release. I’m recommending them, regardless, but we all know it’s there.

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