Let me preface this by saying there are people out there in Hollywood who absolutely do not care about what the fans of a property want. For them it’s just lazy marketing to get something out or a belief they can “do it better” than the creator. That’s how you get Todd Philips’ Joker or Frank Miller’s The Spirit. Heck, the people I targeting with this approach may not care either, but only the liars will be able to treat fans as “toxic” when the truth is they don’t care and don’t want to be called out on not caring.
The angry Twitter responses are not helping, and in fact may be adding to the dumpster fire that the (anti)social “platform” has become. Basically we have no chance of convincing anyone of anything. So I want to come up with a few things those of us who want Superman to act like Superman, Star Trek to represent what made fans of Star Trek and turned a show cancelled in three seasons into a TV and movie empire, and any other adaptation at least feeling like I’m watching what I’m being told I’m watching can explain to the actors why we don’t like their take. It’s not the actors’ fault, it’s the screenwriters and directors (either part of the “we can do it better than the original” crowd or just wanted to get out their own story and the only way to talk the studio into it was lying about it being an adaptation of something more popular–and probably better) who are screwing this up. Before we start our arguments let’s realize a few things so we can better get them to realize a few things.
They don’t care about you.
And I’m not pointing this out to convince you to give up or anything. We can at least make them care about getting the adaptation correct, but it’s knowing how to get to them and around the media snob creators, marketing “geniuses”, and those investors who want to pretend they have any business being part of the process by pointing to what they DO care about. Money. If they’re going to push into more “geekish” properties you have to explain to the people in charge how doing a proper adaptation will earn them more money. After all, you get the casuals regardless, and there are ways to properly conform to continuity or even “multiversal continuity” (getting the essence of an adapted franchise without adapting a particular story) without losing them. I’ve seen stories where villains show up again but only to the heroes as this is actually the first story they’ve ever appeared in. They showed up in events prior to the beginning of the series, something out of a character’s past. You don’t need to let continuity be a noose but you do have to acknowledge you aren’t the first to do something with these characters and world.
There’s a difference between the quality of the story and the quality of the adaptation.
Explaining this to the right people will push back against everything except the activists who don’t really care about anything other than the quota of Earth character types (usually stereotypes) or the everything for meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee crowd who wants everything to cater to their preferences, tastes, and worldviews. An end run around these self-interested nimrods requires you to explain that being a good story does not make for a good adaptation. For example the reimagined Battlestar Galactica turned characters into callsigns and namesakes, completely changed the theme of the show, and made the show’s tone the exact opposite of the original. It may be a good series but as an adaptation it’s so different it might have been called something completely different and I doubt anyone would notice or even care. In other words fans of the original BSG might have given Manchine Run a decent chance and would have had more fans instead of old fans trashing it. You cost yourself an audience and if you only care about the press, even if it’s negative, then do you really care about the supposed art you’re making?
Look, my all time favorite movie is a terrible adaptation of the book it’s based on, and from what I hear about the book I’m not sure I’d like the last half of it because its so different. However, I don’t need “my version” of The NeverEnding Story and if the movie hadn’t have come out the only void would be wanting a story with that theme and feel. There have been times where I’ve gone to the original and actually liked it better even if it wasn’t my first exposure as well. I’m not afraid to acknowledge this. Thus I don’t trash people for liking Man Of Steel even when pointing out that as a Superman movie it gets almost everything wrong while the movie itself was just a good superhero movie. If the Snyderverse were an original concept like M. Night’s supposed superhero trilogy (I hear about people with powers but no actual superheroing) you may have more fans of it rather than DC fans who grew up with Superman and know this isn’t Superman. Aren’t MORE potential fans a good thing?
On the other hand a good adaptation can be a terrible story. Thundercats: The Return for those of you who missed my review of the comic was adaptation-wise very good. I can hear the voice of the characters, the art style is surprisingly close to the original cartoon and probably was the miniseries with the closest visual match of the ones WildStorm put out. It also forced the Thundercats into slavery, except for the girls who became either a concubine or a “toy” on the wall (implying that Cheetara was being constantly raped by the Mutants and I don’t want to know what WilyKit was doing for Mumm-Ra and no, aging her 10 years doesn’t make it better). It was an insult to the characters. Heck, comics and shows that we love have the occasional bad episode or issue while still fitting in with continuity. So I don’t care how good you say this or that take is storywise if the adaptation fails to remind me of the original product. If good adaptations can have crap stories then bad adaptation can have good stories. I want both. If you’re adaptation is too far removed from the original, then just make something new. Of course that means convincing the money people that…
We will watch new things if they’re good.
The Hollywood studios are gun shy when it comes to new things. New shows, new movies, new IP, new actors–the more well known they are the more willing they are to greenlight a project. In some ways this is understandable because money is getting tighter and there are more avenues of entertainment despite the elitist media snobs working to pull a Fredric Wertham on any new media format and delivery system until they can control it and make it more “recognizable” to stuff they like. Look at YouTube these days. So unless they can tie it to something already popular, even if the end result is nothing like that popular thing (because they certainly don’t play video games or read comic books and other supposedly kids stuff), they’re not so willing to do it. Considering how far back this goes (they used Henry Hawk from Looney Tunes to sell Scrappy-Doo) it’s not a shock that it’s even worse today.
So we need to point to GOOD media that isn’t based on something popular (and yes, I did stress GOOD as pushing any old garbage will send a different bad message to the people who already think we don’t care about quality so as long as it’s product to consume…because the collective “we” as an audience has done this) and say “Hey, we like this so why don’t you try that?”. Granted they won’t understand WHY we like that thing but that’s our next issue.
Explain why we like it!
They sure as hell aren’t going to do the research. That’s too much like work, and remember that some of these writers and directors are just retooling a script or idea they’ve been pushing for awhile rather than actually being interested in what they’re adapting, and that’s ignoring the activists. (I so want to ignore the activists but they aren’t.) So when they announce X is greenlit it’s up to us, the fans of the original X (actually there is a comic called X but I’m using it in the more generic sense) instead of immediately screaming how broken and woke we know it’s going to be…even when we’re right…a campaign pointing to the people in charge need to go out calmly explaining why we like it.
If a character or particular meant something to you, spoke to you, was something you relate to, and even influences you positively during a rough or directionless point in your life, speak up. However, instead of doing so out of anger for what they’re doing, though feel free to make that known as well, do it for love of the source material. Make videos or social threads explaining WHY these characters matter. There used to be a series on one of the various versions of Scans_Daily going over the period where “Wonder Woman Was Awesome”, where the writer went over why her favorite period of Wonder Woman stories WAS her favorite period. Media can have a strong impact on us and even our fictional heroes can inspire us to be better. I know DC doesn’t believe that because they couldn’t believe Barry Allen was inspired by comic adventures of the previous Flash to turn his love of science into a career at the police crime lab before gaining powers like his childhood hero and seeking to continue that legacy. That’s because DC has accepted their spot on the media pecking order and looks down on itself rather than celebrating what makes comics great. That’s for another article, but my point is fiction can make us better, whether you’re inspired by a world where heroes believe children when they know something’s wrong or uses their powers to protect everyone, or if you’re just stuck in the hospital and a movie where a girl ends up in a fantasy world where she tries to save her parents from a witch with the help of a dragon boy who is also a river she knows. And those are my personal experiences. I’m sure you have your own. Tell them!
And please don’t blame the actors.
My final bit of advice is to not take it out on the actors that the depiction on-screen doesn’t match up with the world you know. Again, they don’t care either. We’ve gone over this as well. All the actors see is “a character I really want to play”. They don’t connect to these characters and stories the same way we do, which has advantages and disadvantages in their line of work. Unless it really is a franchise or story they grew up with and want to contribute to rather than push their own egos, playing a role that speaks to them either personally or professionally (gotta get them naked bald men statuettes), they don’t care about the source material.
So again we need to educate them as to why we care about those characters not by challenging them because when you spend your life surrounded by yes men any critique us beyond they’re ability to handle. Hollywood needs to fix that but keeping the talent happy is more important than keeping them human. Need that big name for the cash or the right checkbox for the positive press and “attaboys” from your peers (the only group that matters) after all. Instead explain WHY you’re not happy with the version the actor is playing. Show them the original, or explain why the original matters so much than anything beyond a slight variation for freshness (if you want the same performance just go watch the source material) feels like an insult. Remember, people worked hard on the original, either because they had a story of their own to tell or because they wanted to have fun making something they can be proud of.
Accept that this probably still won’t be enough.
So then why do it if they’re not going to listen? Well, maybe someone will and will try to do better. Maybe the next generation of creators will learn from these mistakes and go a better route. This could also benefit the rising fan creation and indie creator market for movies, shows, comics, and video games as they avoid the same failures because they can. It’s also for the benefit of the shill media, the sites that promote things so they can get access to new information and creators to boost
ad revenue readership. A lot of them aren’t going to listen either.
A good fan-made production could work, but again it has to be good. Catering to fellow fans sounds good in theory but losing the outsiders won’t help. Show the entertainment world that you can make an adaptation that makes fans happy and still attracts new fans. The more fans you make the better off you are. Again, the self-interested aren’t going to listen.
But somewhere out there someone will be listening. If they aren’t part of the everything for meeeeeeeeeeeee club or similar group hivemind they may understand where you’re coming from, that potential fans are being lost, and either fix the problem down the road or realize there’s totally an untapped market waiting to be filled–or filled again if they feel abandoned. At the very least it will be more “agree to disagree” and less “why don’t immediately worship this thing I like that’s clearly better than the stuff you like”, though sadly the latter position will never die. This is why reviewing bad media should be encouraged, to speak to those yet involved to get involved or change how they’re involved. Imagine some celebrity using their star power to cause a better adaptation to be made either because they know it will improve their standing or this other character they never knew about sounds so much fun to play as originally created.
There will always be egos. Hollywood is as full of them as it is @#%holes and in some cases this star ego has infected comics and video games as they try to be more like the “cool kids” instead of doing what they do best. It’s the ones not yet tainted or not yet inspired that we have a chance with. If we can’t fix the problem we can work around it. Rage won’t solve the problem alone. Emotion only drives you to want to solve the problem. It’s using your head and thinking of better way to address the problem that actually leads to solutions in life, and bad adaptations are no different.