Prior to their explosion in the 1990s, comic books, anime and manga weren’t especially prevalent on the big screen. They were seen as a cult trend for an obscure audience, and compared to this day and age, not many people took interest in them.
However with X-Men unexpectedly raking in $300 million worldwide in 2000, cult entertainment started to debut in a format that was accessible to both sides: movies. From then on, cult entertainment only got bigger, and with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe in full swing, it now feels like these kind of films have always been around.
The next big-screen adaption of a cult classic is Ghost in the Shell, based on the anime and starring Scarlett Johansson. So get your geek on as we go through the many big screen adaptations of cult comics.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians was adapted from the relatively unknown Marvel comic book series of the same name, hardly a rival for the likes of Superman or Batman.
That all changed in an instant, as the 2014 blockbuster took over $750 million worldwide (the third biggest film of that year) and made an obscure group of characters the coolest ‘losers’ ever put to screen.
With witty one-liners, an incredibly nostalgic soundtrack (bring on Awesome Mix Vol. 2!) and eye-popping set pieces, it’s no wonder that Guardians of the Galaxy is regarded as one of the best Marvel films ever made. We can’t wait for Vol. 2 this April.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
January 2015 saw the release of Kingsman: The Secret Service, directed by Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn. It was based on the hit graphic novel by one of the most famous graphic novelists in the business, Mark Millar, who also wrote the comic sources for Captain America: Civil War and Kick-Ass.
Kingsman was a huge sleeper hit, starting the trend of Valentine’s movies for guys (followed by Deadpool and this year's John Wick: Chapter Two) and had an incredible cast (including Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine). It also included an amazing 5-minute long throw-down in a church, which is arguably one of the best action sequences of this decade. Bring on sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, released this September.
V For Vendetta
Here we have a film based on a graphic novel written by Alan Moore, the man behind other cult classics such as Watchmen and Batman: The Killing Joke (which have also been turned into great movies). V for Vendetta is a surprisingly thought-provoking political thriller that is very much relevant in today’s times, and has some incredibly written characters, including strong heroine Evey (played by Natalie Portman) and the mysterious, hypnotic V (played by Hugo Weaving).
Whilst it was very well receive on its release, 10 years on it has been regarded as one of the best cult classics of the decade. Oh, and did we mention that it was written by The Wachowskis, the duo behind The Matrix?
Whilst Deadpool would probably scorn us for saying this film is a 'comic book film', this is one of the best 'comic book films' of recent years.
Ryan Reynolds so impressed everyone with his turn as Deadpool in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine that fans called for a stand alone film of the character, and that he should be played by Reynolds. After some awesome test footage showcasing Deadpool’s humour and powers, the film was green-lit after rapturous praise from fans and newcomers alike.
Still it was surprising that it opened to record-breaking box office numbers; it was the biggest opening weekend for a film with an American R-rating, and served as alternative for couples looking for a bit of excitement during Valentine’s Day.
Here’s the big one, the one we’ve all been waiting for. Ghost in the Shell originally started as a manga series written by Masamune Shirow, also responsible for the highly successful anime series Appleseed.
It was then adapted into a game-changing animated movie in 1995, which was inspirational to countless filmmakers such as the Wachowskis. Now it's being adapted into a live action movie, directed by Rupert Sanders of Snow White and the Huntsman fame, and starring action superstar Scarlett Johannson.
We can't wait to see the adventure unfold in live action.
Jake Gibbard is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.