The Pros/Cons of Fables: The Movie
This week it was announced that a movie based on the comic book series Fables will happen. Being a fan of the series, I’m pretty excited. With an upcoming videogame in development by Telltale games, there’s a good chance that Fables can create a following beyond comic readers before the movie releases and therefore finding an audience. Fables has definitely made a splash in the comic book world by winning 14 Eisner Awards, so by all means, it’s getting some very well deserved attention. However, despite my excitement, I can see some issues that a movie may present.
First, let’s have a little Fables 101: Fables is a comic book series that first launched in 2002 written by Bill Willingham. The series follows several storybook characters living in a community in present-day New York City after being forced out of their magical homelands by a villain known as The Adversary. Unfortunately, not all of the storybook characters can blend into our society such as The 3 Little Pigs, or many of the Wonderland characters, or monsters. As a result, many of those characters live in upstate New York at “The Farm”. Throughout the series, the Fables characters encounter several challenges such as a revolt on the farm, an invasion of wooden soldiers, characters from the Mundane World (aka us) discovering their storybook roots, and even a showdown against their old foe The Adversary. Among our Fabletown heroes we have Sheriff Bigby Wolf, a somewhat Wolverine-esque bad ass human form of the Big Bad Wolf (He can transform), Deputy-Mayor Snow White (and love interest to Bigby Wolf), Con-artist Jack Horner, forever-a-child Pinocchio (who’s a bit testy being a few centuries years old and not hitting puberty), womanizing Mayor Prince Charming, Snow White’s trouble-making little sister Rose Red, kick-ass spy Cinderella, and office clerk/former hero Boy Blue as well as his kindhearted janitor friend Flycatcher (aka the frog-prince).
This All Sounds Kind of Familiar, Right?- This is where I think the main problem of the movie will lie. Fables has been around for 11 years, however despite an attempt to transform it into a TV series; nothing happened! Fast-forward to today and you’ll see that NBC has a hit show named Grimm and ABC’s Once Upon A Time has a very, very similar setting as Fables. People familiar with the comic will know that Fables came first, but they only make up a certain percentage of movie-goers. I have a feeling that many people may write it off as riding the wave made by the popularity of Grimm and Once Upon A Time. However, Fables is a very cool and mature-reader series (due to language, violence and adult situations..like Watchmen, Sin City of V for Vendetta) so a straight-up adaptation will definitely put it into the R category, unless it gets toned down a bit. But this definitely won’t be anything like the bedtime stories. Regardless of if it hits too close to Sunday night dramas on TV, it should definitely get a chance to shine on it’s own.
Is One Movie Enough?- I really hope that Fables gets made and does well enough to create a franchise of at least a few movies. However, I really wish that this was made into an HBO, Starz or Showtime TV series. When launching a movie, you kind of want to swing for the fences by bringing in all the good stuff. This is why Joker, Lex Luthor, Magneto, Green Goblin, Loki, Red Skull and other “biggest enemies” showed up in the original movies based on comic book heroes. My problem is that the build up to the surprising reveal of the identity of The Adversary was great and I feel that a 2 hour buildup isn’t merely enough time to progress the story. In addition, otherwise great arcs such as the revolt on “The Farm” or the Invasion of the Wooden Soldiers will either be scrapped completely or greatly reduced. A TV series on the other hand can definitely pace the story out better as a show can build up the mystery and shocking reveal of The Adversary. With a movie there’s no guarantee that there will ever be a sequel so I think we’ll see The Adversary make an appearance as the movie’s big bad.
A Movie is Better Than No Movie Right? – Seeing Fables on the path to be brought to life in a new medium is obviously good news to fans of the series or any of the spin-offs. It’s a very fun and smart series and I’m glad to see it get the recognition that it deserves. I practically geeked out a bit last week at a Denver Comic-Con pre-party when I met series inker Andrew Pepoy and he showed me some original artwork for the series and its spinoff Jack of Fables. When the movie gets made, I’ll gladly be there in the theater whether it draws a sold out audience or if I’m just with 20 other people having a good time (like the case with Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter). Serial comic series such as Fables or Y: The Last Man and Saga are all great stories in their own right and in time I absolutely anticipate those stories to be adapted into a movie or television show some day. However, in a movie a lot of the story can be lost when condensing everything into 2 hours. So this is where I’d prefer TV adaptations, but as long as it’s reaching into a new medium to bring the characters from page-to-screen, I’m perfectly OK with it. Plus Superman, Iron Man, Spider-man and so on have had much longer runs in print and they had some pretty good movie adaptations.
While We’re At It….- We’re without a shadow of doubt, living in the “Golden Age of Comic Book Movies”. 20 years ago we only had Batman and Superman at the movies. Now major heroes such as Spider-man, Thor, Iron Man, the X-men and Captain America are all in cruise control of their own movie franchises and on the smaller screen we’ll see Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and poplar web comic Axe Cop debut this fall. As long as that’s happening, smaller and lesser known series and heroes are all getting the silver screen or TV screen treatment. Here’s a few I’d like to see happen while we’re green-lighting comic book based movies:
–Deadpool (DONE RIGHT!!! Wolverine Origins DIDN’T COUNT!!!)
– Y: The Last Man
– Superman Red Son (0% chance of live action, but Russian communist Superman is awesome! I’ll gladly settle for an animated version)
– Wolverine: Old Man Logan (again 0% chance of live action, but Old pacifist Wolverine living in a world ran by villains due to the big heroes being killed off save for a blind-Hawkeye would be fun to see. Too many people would be confused, but definitely check it out sometime because it’s awesome)
Regardless of how this executes, a movie will probably be a good thing. Iron Man went from something of a borderline B-grade hero to a household name after the movies, so hopefully the same holds true for Bigby Wolf. The next couple of years should be very interesting.