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Men In Black International and a few more movies you may not know are based on comic books


The Men In Black franchise returns this summer, and this time it's bigger, badder and going global.

Thor: Ragnarok double act Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson are suiting up as Agents M and H for director F. Gary Gray's Men in Black International, replacing the earlier duo of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

Ditching the original Men in Black movie roster, these new men (and women) in black must protect the world from the intergalactic scum of the universe as usual, while doing all they can to uncover a mole within the Men in Black organisation. Liam Neeson co-stars as the head of the British arm of the MiB.

Comic book adaptations now dominate the silver screen, but you may be interested to know that Men in Black is in fact based on a 1990s comic book by Lowell Cunningham. Already knew that? Then here are some more you may not know about…

1. Timecop (1994)

Something of a cult classic starring high-kicking Belgian Jean-Claude Van Damme, Timecop's sci-fi premise involves a security agent whose job is to regulate the use of time travel, who comes up against a shady politician intent on changing the past. The plot of the original 1990s Dark Horse-published comic is very different to the film adaptation.

Both follow a character named Max Walker - however the comic focuses on a runaway robot wreaking havoc on the timeline, leading Walker to South Africa to stop the machine. Sadly, there are a lot less high kicks and meaningless splits as well.

2. Mystery Men (1999)

People often associate comic books with spandex wearing superheroes, and so it may seem obvious that the 1999 superhero spoof Mystery Men must have been inspired by the funny pages. However, not many people know of its origin.

Featuring a gang of eclectic 'superheroes' including Ben Stiller's Mr Furious who can get really angry, William H. Macy's The Shoveler who simply uses a shovel as a weapon, and Paul Reubens's The Spleen who wields the power of... flatulence, these heroes are not exactly what cinema-goers are used to these days. Well, the book that inspired the film is even more ridiculous.

Entitled Flaming Carrot Comics, the story focuses on The Flaming Carrot, a man who reads so many comics he suffers brain damage and appears thereafter as the titular root vegetable. Sadly, the carrot does not appear in the film Mystery Men, though many of his associates do, but perhaps one day a film-maker will be born with talent enough to tackle such a bizarre concept.

3. From Hell (2001)

The work of legendary comic book writer Alan Moore has been adapted many times for both the big and small screen, with Watchmen and V for Vendetta being the most well-known. From Hell is a lesser-known, but no less riveting, story from Moore and artist Eddie Campbell set in 1800s Britain during the time of notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper.

Full of speculation as to the identity and motives of the mysterious Jack, the graphic novel has been inundated with awards and accolades, whereas the film was not so lucky. Starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham, the film version, directed by the Hughes brothers (Dead Presidents) doesn't quite capture the enthralling prose of its paperback counterpart.

Although the film adaptation received mixed reviews, the graphic novel remains an Alan Moore classic and a must read for anyone tired of the superheroes-in-spandex style of comic books.

4. Road to Perdition (2002)

Star-studded gangster flick Road to Perdition is considered one of the finest films from both director Sam Mendes and star Tom Hanks – and with good reason.

Based on a series of Paradox Press comics (a division of industry giant DC) by Max Allan Collins, which in turn were inspired by the manga Lone Wolf and Cub, Road to Perdition tells the story of mob enforcer Michael Sullivan. In a bullet-flying turn of events, he must protect his young son from the forces of real-life crime boss John Looney (changed to Rooney in the film adaptation, played by Paul Newman).

A wonderful commentary on fatherhood and the consequences of violence, set against a richly atmospheric 1930s backdrop, both the film and comic books are gangster classics.

5. A History of Violence (2005)

This seminal exploration of the endless, all-consuming nature of violence comes from director David Cronenberg. It stars Viggo Mortensen as the mild-mannered Tom Stall, who becomes a local hero when he is forced to kill to save his life and the lives of his diner patrons from dangerous mobsters. Twists and turns occur as we discover that Tom isn't exactly the innocent man he claims to be, but may in fact be concealing a violent past.

The film is based on influential writer John Wagner's graphic novel – featuring striking black and white artwork, it went on to be issued by well-known publisher Vertigo. The film begins by adhering fairly closely to the source material before veering off to tell its own version of events. However, both versions of A History of Violence stand as two very different, but equally fascinating, interpretations of the same story.

Men in Black International is released on 14th June. Got some suggestions of your own? Let us know @Cineworld.

Jon Fuge is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.