This past weekend, me and my brother took my mom out to the movies for Mothers Day to see Captain America: Civil War. My mom is dope. She was almost as excited as me to see the film. After the film had ended and we were walking out of the movie theater and she was going on and on about how she loved it. But me? I wasn’t so sure.
Almost immediately after Marvel had announced that their cinematic universe was headed in the Civil War direction, I had begun doing as much research as I possibly could about that time in Marvel comic book history. I read several summaries and even bought the official Civil War novel that basically combined all of the main ideas of the different Civil War comics together to make one comprehensive story. I loved every minute of it.
I knew my stuff.
So going into the movie theater that day, I was excited to see the stories that I had thoroughly enjoyed come to life on screen. That, however, didn’t happen exactly how I had hoped. There were some major differences in the comics/novel and the film. Though I enjoyed the film, I feel like my ultimate opinion of it is based off of the comparison I continue to make between the film and the comics. I can’t help but think about how I would view the film differently if I hadn’t read and researched.
Rich Santos wrote an article for the Barnes and Nobles blog that lists 6 reasons why movie adaptions are not as good as the books in which they derive (read it here). One of them being that the movies are almost never how we pictured the book to be. This hit the nail on the head for me. I feel this way with almost the entire Hunger Games series (with the exception of Catching Fire) and the Maze Runner series times a billion as well. In the article, Santos says that “once a filmmaker decides upon settings and characters, we’re limited to seeing those characters and settings through their eyes”. I agree. Movie adaptions pretty much become the book as the filmmaker sees it. They have a different lens and imagination than their viewers. But sometimes filmmakers “get it right”. The Harry Potter series is an example of that.
I do, however, rest a little easier knowing that the film adaption of the Marvel comic’s Civil War era was adapted to connect and introduce the next phase of Marvel movies and characters to the established ones. They basically took the idea of Civil War and adapted it to fit the cinematic universe. Which I think they did tastefully. But I wanted the Marvel comics version. Do reading the books attached to movie adaptions taint our opinions of a film? Can we separate how “good” a film is from its ability to stay true to the story from which it came? The world may never know.