Brush up on your Latin and get out your black trenchcoats, because The Boondock Saints is coming to TV with The Boondock Saints: Origins. Premiering on St. Patrick’s Day 2018 (of course), Boondock Saints: Origins will explore who the McManus brothers were before they evolved into stone cold killers, according to Screen Rant. No word yet on which network it’ll be airing on, but you can enjoy this delightfully profane trailer in the meantime.
Although some people may see Boondock Saints: Origins as an attempt to jump on the movies-to-TV reboot bandwagon, the world of the Boondock Saints movie actually lends itself to small-screen viewing. It centers on a family and their community, which can easily be distilled down to more intimate sets and serialized storylines. As for the violence–well, it might have raised a couple of eyebrows in 1999, but if audiences can deal with The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and other blood-spattered televisual epics, they can handle shootouts and bar fights.
In fact, some movies are actually better suited for TV. Below we cinema blockbusters that would have fared much better as TV adaptations.
Watchmen is hailed as a genre-defining work–perhaps even a medium-defining one–that changed the way comics and popular media in general perceived superheroes. While no one expected its film adaptation to fully live up to this legacy, it could still have been a lot more insightful than almost three hours of men punching each other through an endlessly grayish cityscape.
So what would make a successful Watchmen adaptation? To answer that, let’s look at what catapulted Watchmen to the top of so many Best Comics Ever lists. In addition to its stunning art and writing, it celebrated the power of what only the comics medium can do, such as sequential visual layouts, serialized story installments, what it looks like to place multiple narratives within each other (the pirate comic!), and how reading practices shape the development of a story. All that stuff needs space and time to breathe, which is way easier to accomplish in TV format than in a single Hollywood film. A TV series investigating similar issues in relation to the television medium, like the implications of serializing episodes or what small-screen series can do that one-off movies can’t, along with the significance of the superhero trope in today’s society, could make a lasting impact on even the most jaded audiences.
V for Vendetta (2005)
The V for Vendetta movie was fine, but is “fine” adequate? The original comic by Alan Moore and David Lloyd dealt with issues of pervasive political oppression in a context where dissent was portrayed as destructive to the fundamental structure of society. The movie seemed to take a far less nuanced tack, choosing instead to shove in our faces the idea that oppression is bad, which we kind of knew anyway.
Oppressive regimes don’t really work like that. Rather, they sneak up on you, gradually introducing messed-up ideology into your regular routine until you accept that we don’t need freedom or that marginalized groups should just…disappear. TV is the perfect format to build up that gradual and increasingly upsetting feel. Regular episodes would allow viewers to get a strong sense of the characters and the world they live in, and would therefore deliver even more of a shock when things start to go seriously wrong–in a way that just happens to reflect contemporary issues.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
Adventure! Steampunk-inflected swashbuckling! Cool leather corsets! The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie could have been so much fun. What viewers got was a mishmash of characters in inaccurate period costumes, whose relationships to each other were never clear.
It could have been insightful, too; Sean Connery’s turn as the elderly Allan Quatermain raised questions about what it meant to age out of relevance, but these remained unanswered in favor of making gear-enhanced contraptions explode. Plus, the Dorian Gray subplot introduced into the movie, which wasn’t part of the source material, had the potential to explore the dilemma of accepting the cruel march of mortality vs. holding on to youth at the cost of one’s soul. Wouldn’t it have been great to watch that unfold over the course of a TV series?
Granted, a Constantine TV show has already aired on NBC. But it wasn’t great, for much the same reason the movie got mixed reviews.
The main issues with both the 2005 movie and the show, which are based on the Hellblazer comic first put out by Jamie Delano and John Ridgway in the 1980s, lie in the desire to be, well, nice. In these adaptations, Constantine may appear cynical, but he ultimately just wants to do the right thing. However, Hellblazer made its mark by being grubby and angry in the best way, a rallying cry against the disenfranchisement of the working class. It used supernatural tropes to critique corporate greed and the politics of its time, with an antihero who had been corrupted by having to survive in such a terrible environment and used his roguish charm to mask the darkness within. When it comes to screen treatments, then, a few cigarettes and sexy angel-demons aren’t going to cut it.
Imagine instead how devastating–and how much more effective–it would be to slowly fall in love with a self-hating protagonist over the course of ten or so episodes, right before he betrays his best friends to buy himself one more year of not being damned. Next to that, even a demon-detecting Keanu Reeves looks a little weak.
Judge Dredd (1995)
Despite the hate this movie gets, it could work in a format that offers more room to breathe. Aside from Sylvester Stallone spending half the film without his helmet, the production suffers from trying to cram in too many plotlines that could have worked on their own.
Judge Dredd being cast out by the very justice system he’s sworn to protect? Yes, please. It’s been done before, but when it’s done well it never gets old. A family struggle between Dredd and his evil clone brother who embodies all the impulses he’s purged from his life? Provided we know enough about Dredd’s character after multiple episodes of a show instead of a rushed film, that sounds perfect.
And let’s not forget the post-nuclear Cursed Earth, home to hideously telegenic mutants, rats that eat people, dinosaur fights, and a delusional, warmongering ex-president who believes everyone lives to serve him–the perfect story for our current political climate. The possibilities are endless.
Suicide Squad (2016)
A motley crew of baddies with tragic pasts, finding solidarity in each other and taking one last shot at reclaiming the humanity within themselves: sounds like a surefire formula for on-screen magic. Of course, you’d have to give them enough time to develop as individual characters and then as a team, which takes a lot longer than two hours if you’re doing it right. Plus, don’t forget the all-important backstory, where we discover what pushes an ordinary person to become a supervillain and (ideally) ask ourselves whether we’d have the strength to avoid doing the same thing. I predict at least five seasons, maybe even with a couple of spinoffs for the most beloved characters.
Are there movies that you feel should have made the list? Tell us about them below!
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Images: Franchise Pictures;Warner Brothers; 2000AD; Flickr/Fernando; DC Comics