It’s occasionally said that Hollywood is out of ideas. The truth of the matter is that Hollywood has been cheerfully purloining ideas from other media for as long as Hollywood has been around. Novels, cartoons, live-action television shows, comic books, video games, and even the occasional board game have yielded their characters, concepts, and storylines to films. Some of these have been successful, commercially and critically; there’s a reason why the Academy Awards have an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Some of them, however, are successful on no meaningful level. And sometimes even when the adaptation is successful among some of the general public, the fans of the original remain displeased.
There are several reasons why this can happen, with the most basic and obvious being “they just didn’t make a good movie”. But when making an adaptation — especially of a well-loved property — there are additional pitfalls to be avoided beyond the normal concerns of making a good movie. (Of course, if the source material is terrible to begin with, or just has no story whatsoever, your battleship may be sunk from the get-go.) In my eyes, there is a certain basic rule that all adaptations should try to follow: Respect the source material. There are several different factors that go into that, but they’re all important, and while a film can sometimes get away with bending one or two, if it goes too far astray, it will probably get a severe backlash from the fans.
So what does it mean to respect the source material? Continue reading