Alan Moore is a well-known and controversial figure in pop culture. His books, comics, concepts and research have influenced many people since the beginning of his career as a writer, in the late 1970s. Several adaptations have emerged from his works. Most of them begrudgingly, which makes it even more controversial between fans and creators.
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For Moore, nothing in the language of cinema can faithfully reproduce the characteristics explored in his narratives idealized for comics — and he is right, even because he has his comics that can be read as a poster; in the form of a board game; and even with a vinyl record playing in the background. But, of course, that’s why conversions are called “adaptations”.
We took advantage of a list made by CBR to give our own opinion on these adaptations and, in addition, to add what Moore himself grumbled about these productions. Starting with what he complained to his own website in 2005: “After the films were released, I started to feel more and more uncomfortable, I have less and less respect for the ways in which things are communicated by cinema these days”.
From Hell (2001)
Moore did one of the largest—if not the most extensive—research on the Victorian-era serial killer, Jack the Ripper. From the very first pages, the identity of the killer is already exposed. So, the great thing about the story is how the author created, alongside Eddie Campbell, a “narrative labyrinth” over nine years.
After its publication was finally complete in 1999, the graphic novel was adapted for the big screen, with Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, in a film that was not well received by critics and audiences. And, compared to the original work, the conversion was extremely shallow: the details and the narrative created a mosaic difficult to be transferred to the big screen.
In an excerpt from an interview with Empire Magazine, Moore gave his opinion. “I think I watched it for ten minutes, so I realized that, in the end, it was a bad idea. The trailer was enough, but I thought I should try to be fair. I thought it was just a scam, so I hung up. I’m the last person who could be fair about a movie like this. There didn’t seem to be any way to badger me or be unfairly uncritical about a production that obviously won’t be like the publication.”
The Extraordinary League (2003)
The Extraordinary League comics have always played with the culture of the time they dealt with, whether through their own intriguing characters from the 19th century or through references and even the aforementioned joke with board game and vinyl record. The idea of bringing together the “Victorian heroes” in plots full of easter eggs was always a big part of the fun, which also included a narrative that was shaped to honor certain periods of communication in the world.
The film singled out Sean Connery as Allan Quatermain and highlighted romance and a lazy, formulaic outlet for the intricate web of references that made the original publication so much fun. One of the most questioned changes was the fact that the big-screen Quatermain was not addicted to opium. In an interview with MTV.com, Moore said, “Sean Connery didn’t want to play a drug addict; the character was thrown out the window on an actor’s whim.”
To worsen Moore’s relationship with the production, there was a bullshit that has been poorly explained until now that put the creator of the original work himself in a plagiarism process involving 20th Century Fox. The writer had to explain, in ten hours of testimony, that he did not participated in a scheme involving the film’s script, which would have been “stolen” for the creation of the comic which was adapted — don’t ask me, no one has understood that until today.
In a 2008 interview with CBR, Moore spoke about it. “They seemed to believe that the head of 20th Century Fox called me and convinced me to steal this script, turning it into a comic book that they could adapt back into a movie, to camouflage little holes.”
Since then, Moore has made a point of not being linked to film adaptations of his work — he is often credited as “The Original Author” in works converted to other media.
Moore introduced John Constantine in The Saga of Swamp Thing #37 in 1985, alongside artists Rick Veitch, Steve Bissette and John Totleben. Although he did not have the complexity of today, Constantine already showed himself to be a street wizard with many facets linked to the occult and a strong connection to his British roots.
The movie that hit theaters in 2005, with Keanu Reeves, although it has many fans, leaves aside the character’s English connection and basically places him as an exorcist – forgetting his skills as an occult detective and leaving his vast knowledge of various religions and background charms. In addition, his best friend, Chas, who has great importance in his plots, has become a kind of child sidekick in the skin of Shia LaBeouf.
In a BBC Radio 4 interview broadcast in early 2005, Moore, who forfeited any money related to the creative credits attached to the film, showed indifference to the adaptation. “[…] I got a call from Karen Berger the following Monday, she’s an editor at DC Comics, and she said to me, ‘Yes, we’re going to send a huge amount of money before the end of the year as they’re making this movie of your character with the Keanu Reeves’. I said, ‘Okay, okay. Well, take my name off it and distribute it among the other artists.’ it was hard for me [aceitar o dinheiro de alguma forma], but I feel better about myself.”
V for Vendetta (2005)
This work by Moore shows the rise of an anti-hero in the midst of political projection. The plot is developed in different ways during a narrative that changes according to the action of each chapter, always maintaining a mystery about the protagonist’s true identity. There is even a passage that plays with musical aspects, with a score following the activities of the vigilante/terrorist who seeks anarchy, on his journey of personal revenge, in the midst of a fascist and oppressive system.
During the film’s production, Moore had already told MTV.com, “I’ve read the script, so I know exactly what they’re doing, so I’m not going to see the movie.” Even with the relative commercial success, the author was very critical of the absence of terms such as “anarchy” or “fascism” in the adapted text. In addition, he ground the very publisher he published, DC Comics.
“It was turned into a Bush-era parable by people too shy to set up political satire in their own country. Kevin O’Neill and I own the rights to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; and that’s why I was able to get it out of DC so quickly. glow, after offending me with the movie V for Vendetta.”
Although Watchmen already had a cinematic narrative in the comics published in the mid-1980s, there are several “jokes” with the language of comics that are insurmountable for the big screen. Its symmetrical graphic sequences, which play with the “sound” “heard” by the eyes of the readers, including passages that suggest mental exercises between the white spaces, cannot be completely translated to another medium.
Zack Snyder did a respectable job and even included interesting elements to the original work, such as the use of a Bob Dylan song to summarize some of the content in a way that takes advantage of the possibilities of cinema in a complementary way. But Moore was fed up with the Seventh Art industry enough to accept any kind of collaboration, shall we say, more acceptable.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2008, he said that he would never see the film, and further: “I can say that I will also be ‘spitting poison’ for the next few months.” “It’s like we’re newborn birds looking up, mouths open, waiting for Hollywood to feed us more regurgitated worms. The Watchmen movie sounds like more regurgitated worms. I, for one, am fed up with worms. Can’t we get something else?”
Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
The original work created in the 1980s serves as an “ultimate story” for the confrontation between Batman and the Joker, placing them as two sides of the same coin. The narrative, once again, plays with the reader’s mind, feeding psychological horror, including an ending that to this day torments many of the fans – does the Batman really kill the Clown of Crime?
The animation that adapts this plot, in addition to changing some things very poorly, including a disturbing romance between Batman and the teenage Batgirl, really distorted many elements and destroyed much of the atmosphere of the original work.
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In a Goodreads.com Q&A, Moore said he had no interest, either in the adaptation, or even in his original work. “I never really liked The Killing Joke as a work, although I remember the absolutely beautiful art by Brian Bolland. I think this is because the story is very violent and sexualized about a simplistic comic book character like Batman, an unfortunate misstep on my part.”