When The Movie Is More Fun Than The Comics

Yesterday I saw Guardians of the Galaxy for the second time (in IMAX, natch). In the two weeks since I first saw the movie, I'd been reading up on the characters — Marvel had the entire Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning series on sale for $.99 an issue, and I'd already bought the first story arc some time ago though I hadn't read it. So it was pretty easy to get caught up with some of the material that James Gunn and Nicole Perlman had drawn on for the screenplay. And I enjoyed it quite a bit — I've always had a soft spot for Marvel's "cosmic" characters and space/future heroes, and Abnett and Lanning did a pretty good job of bringing a lot of them together in a consistent, satisfying fashion that mixed new stories with decades-old established continuity. (I also picked up the Star-Lord trade paperback, and let me tell you, that is some weird-ass shit right there. Someone should show those early b&w stories to Jodorowsky.)

But, to be honest, I enjoyed the movie a lot more. A whole lot. That's not a dig on the source material, it's just that I found the characters and the story in the movie to be a lot more engaging than their comic book counterparts. And I would describe myself as a dyed-in-the-wool fan who used to dread comic book adaptations. Even now, I don't always feel that the movies capture what I really like about the comics. I've enjoyed most of the X-Men movies for the most part, but I never really felt like they captured the weirdness, fun, or pathos of the classic Uncanny X-Men comics. I liked the first Thor and Captain America movies, but I thought the characters were far more interesting in The Avengers and the followup sequels.

Similarly, I've liked the Nolan Batman movies a lot — yes, even Rises — but I've never really been a fan of the regular Batman comics. There have been individual story arcs and graphic novels I've really liked, such as the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers run on Detective in the '70s, or Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli's "Year One," or Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's The Killing Joke, but I've never really followed the character in his monthly books for any period of time. The qualities that make the character compelling in a movie — or the animated series, or the Arkham video games, for that matter — just don't work for me in the DC comics. Part of that, I suppose, is that he's freed from the burdens of continuity and can just be Batman, with no Robin, Nightwing, Batgirls, Justice League, etc. He's one of those characters who works better without a bigger universe, at least for me, which is one of the many reasons why I'm leery of BvS: Colons of Justice. (My proposed tagline: Justice Is Like Colons: IT FLOWS.)

So, what comics movies did you like better than the comics themselves? You can say Howard the Duck, it's cool.