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Archive for June 13th, 2009

blade posterFilms based on comic books and graphic novels are big business taking billions of dollars and the box office.  Last year saw the top four comic book movies: The Dark Knight, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and Hellboy II gross more than two billion dollars.  Two of these films (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk) represent some of the latest films from Marvel Studios.  Launched in the mid 90’s they have been so successful that they are now moving away from co-productions with other studios and are making their own films.  But where did it all start?

blade and frostAfter years of the rights Marvel comics being sold of for TV shows and rubbish films (often with a tiny budget) Marvel studios first film was a co production with New Line Cinema.  Not risking one of their big name comic books their first film and in some ways their most important was Blade.  Released in 1998 written by David S. Goyer, directed by Stephen Norrington and staring Wesley Snipes.  The Character was created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan in the 70’s as a supporting character in The Tomb of Dracula comic book.  He went on to star in his own comic book as well as making appearances in various other Marvel Titles before being picked up for this movie that spawned two sequels and a TV spin-off .

kris kristoffersontracy lordsWesley Snipes is perfect in the lead role giving the right blend of stone faced killer, brooding hero and a little deadpan humour.  He is well supported by veteran actor Kris Kristofferson as Abraham Whistler his sidekick, mentor, weaponsmith and general farther figure.  The villain of the piece is Decaon Frost (Stephen Dorff) a vampire with a plan that involves Blade.  Amongst the supporting cast is former porn star Traci Lords making one of her occasional appearances in a mainstream film.  The story is original taking ideas from the comics but no real plot details.  The reason the film works so well is its blend of action horror and the aforementioned deadpan humour.  The blood soaked rave at the start sets the tone for the movie and the directors background in music videos is evident as he keeps the action coming. 

wolverineThe production had a relatively modest budget of around $45million and produced worldwide Gross revenue of $131million.  This does not appear to be much when compared to the near $600million Iron Man took or the or the $2.5billion the three Spider-Man movies have made however without the relative success of Blade these films and the X-Men films including this years Wolverine movie may never have been made.  If this is a comic book adaptation that has passed you by now is the time to give a go.  And if you like it you are in for a treat, the sequel directed by visionary geniuses Guillermo Del Toro is even better.

This is the first of a series of articles about comic book/graphic novel adaptations look out for further articles on the subject.

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