Adapting a well known comic book property into a live-action television series or film is a tricky prospect. On one hand you have the original property and an expectation from fans who want to see a faithful translation. And on the other, there's the obvious desire or need for creative freedom, an approach that may involve drawing inspiration from the source material or handpicking specific elements from said comic instead of strictly following it. Film is a very different medium than monthly comics, after all.
Marvel Studios has done a fair job of balancing this line when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From costumes and origin stories, to supporting players and villains, much of what moviegoers have seen in the movies released so far (categorized into Phase 1 and 2) thus far is commendable and generally close to the books. When key elements are different however, reactions tend to be mixed,
One example of this is how Iron Man 3 handled the concept of the title character's arch nemesis from the comics known as the Mandarin. Even though the film and Marvel One-Shot All Hail The King left the idea open that there's still the "real" Mandarin somewhere out there in the MCU, the way the title was used and twisted in the story didn't work for some Iron Man fans.
What many moviegoers may not realize is that one of Marvel's most successful and well-received projects, Guardians of the Galaxy, is actually the least faithful to the comics. The way the five main characters led by Chris Pratt's Star-Lord come together, their origins (i.e. Drax no longer from Earth), who they battle against (the villainous Ronan was drastically different than the books where he eventually becomes a heroic figure) and and for (Nova Corps), are all different than the comics. Visual cues, set pieces, most characters and other iconic elements were intact, but for the most part this story was born from the mind of writer and director James Gunn. With a sequel on the way, Gunn's making it clear that he's going to be making even more changes going forward, including of course, who Star-Lord's father is - a mystery that will be answered in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 when it opens in theaters May 2017.
In speaking on the Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend podcast this week, Gunn spoke about the sequel, confirming that it's not just little things that will change, but the entire story of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 will be his and not based on specific story lines from the comics.
"It's not really based on anything. The story for Guardians 2 is an original story that I came up with that I started working on actually while I was shooting Guardians 1, and it'll answer some of the questions that were put forth in the first movie about Peter Quill's father and who he is and what's going on with that. We'll get to know some of the characters a little bit more and then we're going to meet a couple of new characters who will be very important to Guardians movies and probably important to the Marvel Universe as a whole." […]
Consider that a tease of GOTG 2 introducing potential new team members (he previously told us there'd be at least two female members of the team this time around), new villains and supporting characters for future sequels, and other space-based characters who we expect could be involved with The Avengers: Infinity War, a two-part event movie coming out in 2018 and 2019.
"It's different than what’s in the comic books. Peter Quill’s father is somebody different in the comics. So then when the movie came out, we got green-lit on the sequel right away. I went in and I sat down with those guys and I'm like, 'Okay, here's what I think the sequel should be.' And they were like, 'Oh, whoa. That's risky, but okay.' Now I’m going to turn over the story in a few short weeks and we’ll find out how well it works."
Gunn nailed the important parts when bringing the other-worldly Guardians to life on the big screen and took what many thought was too weird or risky and made it one of the most memorable and entertaining superhero movies to date. We won't even go into how well that project has done on the merchandising side.
With Guardians of the Galaxy 2 deviating further from the comics however, and given Marvel's "whoa" reaction, it could be even riskier. By not following the books or changing characters and their stories, Gunn is potentially creating missed opportunities in not being able to adapt some of the absolute best spaced-based comics Marvel's ever made (looking at Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova comics from 2006-2010 and their corresponding crossover events).
An example of this is how Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) was turned into a relentless "psycho" villain in Guardians and seemingly killed off. Gunn already confirmed Ronan's not coming back for the sequel (here's a list of who is coming back) and if he never returns, throwing out Ronan's important role would also be tossing out his involvement and relationships in many years of cosmic adventures that are worthy of the big screen. We have a feeling he could return down the road though...
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) February 21, 2013
It's wonderful that Gunn can have creative freedom and that Marvel seemingly trusts him, but Marvel movie fans all know how that went for Edgar Wright in his unique take on Ant-Man. He was replaced and the script was made to better fit the bigger picture plans of the franchise.
Would you rather Gunn look to the best Guardians stories from Marvel Comics or is the idea of something original and more to his style more appealing? Share your thoughts in the comments!
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019.
Source: Uproxx (hat tip Steve K)