Week 2-Adaptation

Posted: January 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hello all! This is the second blog post for Group One of Agents of Atlas. We’re excited to update you with what is going on in our adaptation of the work. Before going any further, we would like to clarify something. We didn’t understand that we were only supposed to pitch either a movie or just a pilot episode for a television series. From our last post, you can see that we were under the impression that we could pitch a mini-series/season- our apologies. With this in mind, we’ve decided to go with a movie that will follow the arc covered in the first trade paperback.

Our second meeting together allowed us to hammer out a few more aspects of our adaptation. We specifically tried to look at what Professor Lipsett discussed about the general adaptation process and the film Watchmen (2009) from the past week, as well as what Ashley Ball wrote in her essay on the adaptation of the property. The first aspect of the adaptation process that Professor Lipsett discussed, deletion and addition, got things rolling for our group. We all agreed that keeping the essence of the characters was essential. The team dynamic is one of the best aspects of the comic, and it would be a shame to get rid of it. Things like Ken Hale’s (Gorilla Man) dry humour, and constant snickering when Bob mentions his home-world of Uranus, also adds comic relief that is essential to enjoying the story. It’s things like this that make us think of the camp qualities that can be found in Sam Raimi’s Darkman (1990).

We did think that the most difficult character to adapt for a film would be team leader Jimmy Woo. He’s a boy-scout, and in the initial arc seems to lack depth. Our group discussed showing him having difficulties adapting to the modern world after losing his memories of the last 50 years could add that depth we want. We also debated changing Venus, making her the actual Roman goddess of love as opposed to a siren, or having her be a bit of a celebrity. Ultimately we decided that her naïve personality is too integral part of her character to be changed. As for Derek Khanata, we decided for now to exclude that his homeland is Wakanda, as we want to avoid explaining the existence of this advanced country with a superhero, the Black Panther, as its ruler. We also thought that removing Khanta’s sister would help here. As a result, we would have it so Khanata already had information on where Venus was from his department.

From a more aesthetic perspective, we agreed that changing Bob Grayson’s costume to exclude the fish bowl helmet would be a good choice, as it seems a bit silly looking to be used in a movie set in contemporary times, even if it is a comic book movie. Venus’ initial costume, which has her topless, is also something we feel is necessary to change. There aren’t too many actresses that would be willing to go topless for at least half of the film. On the other hand, we did decide to keep M-11’s appearance relatively the same. Since he was built in the 1950s, having him look like a robot from a cheap sci-fi movie from that time seems appropriate. Ultimately though, the personalities of these character’s matter most, not necessarily their appearance.

Overall, we want to keep relatively close to the first story arc. It does a good job of establishing who the characters are, how they came to be a team, and presenting their unique team dynamic. We did decide to keep out some things, like Bob’s full history on Uranus being presented to the team through telepathy. We felt that moviegoers might see it as simply a rip-off of the Vulcan mind meld from Star Trek (2009), and that the fact that each character experiences it as if they were in Bob’s place might seem a bit odd to the viewers. We also have no issue changing the order things are presented to the audience, such as opening with the elder Jimmy’s failed mission to find the Atlas hide-out to grad the audience, and then using Ken Hale’s interrogation to establish the team’s history through exposition.

With the second aspect, the unique page layout of the comic, we decided that that we don’t feel that we have to shoot the film based on the panels in the comic. We may want to use close-ups of Ken Hale’s hands in the interrogation scene to slowly reveal that he is a gorilla. We do feel that the comic is fast paced. Many of the action scenes, such as Ken and M-11’s rescue of Jimmy early on, are a prime example of this. We do feel that having a linear storyline is the direction we want to go with, but we may include occasional flashbacks to flesh out the characters a bit more. One example of a brief flashback would be how Hale became a gorilla. We could also condense things, such as the numerous Atlas operations the team take out being reworked into a montage.

The third aspect, images and photography, was not discussed too much. However, we do realize that we will be limited somewhat by the production budget. We discussed ways to work around Hale and M-11 in particular, such as using simple costumes and suits, as opposed to having them be computer generated. This would allow us to save on our budget.

The fourth aspect, silence versus sound, ties directly to the first aspect. Getting the voices of the characters right is key. We don’t have to keep the dialogue exactly the same, but how they say it needs to be nailed. Hale having a gruff voice with sarcastic tones, and Venus having a bit more of a typical girly voice would be examples of this.

Comparing our adaptation to the Watchmen film, we remembered that Professor Lipsett said the film was considered a financial failure. Therefore, our group discussed aiming for a lower budget, ideally around the $50-60 million range or lower, in order to increase our chance of making a profit. We also considered viral marketing as a possibility to advertise the film. Ball notes that Watchmen was preceded by several motion comics released online at iTunes and Amazon where it appears that the “elements are brought to life from the panels themselves” (21). Our group thought that taking each of the characters’ first appearance in comics and turning them into motion comics would give people a better idea of who the characters are and increase audience awareness. Another viral marketing campaign that Ball mentions is the Veidt Enterprises Contest where “contestants had to make advertising videos for Veidt Enterprises and then upload them on youtube” (27). We thought that having something similar, like having people create fake articles or photoshop images that show the team from “Agents of Atlas,” would be a fun way to get fans involved. Another route that we could pursue would be having fans donate money online, such as http://www.the1secondfilm.com where fans donate money to have their names in the credits. We could offer the same opportunity to raise money for the film, and entice the fans with the opportunity to have their names in the credits.

Ultimately, we feel that the comic being a lesser known property compared to the rest of Marvel Comics’ materials can be beneficial. We want to respect the fans, but the series being relatively unknown can lure in more casual moviegoers. It’s not the same as Watchmen where established characters from Charlton comics had to be renamed and re-imagined (Ball 13) so that they could be portrayed as neurotic and massively flawed. We’re sticking close to the source material, but recognize the need to make changes when necessary to make it accessible to viewers and to fit the story into a single movie. While 90 minutes is a typical length for films, we think that going for something closer to two hours would be best. We want to give this material the film it deserves. We’re incredibly passionate about these characters and their story. They deserve the best.

Works Cited
• Ball, Ashley. Report on Watchmen The Comic Book & Film
• Lipsett, Joe. Week 3. Adaptation. Carleton University. St.
Patrick’s Building, Ottawa, ON. 17 January 2011, Lecture.


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