One of the questions that comes out of the Superheroes discussion from a few weeks ago is the question of adaptions. Most superhero TV shows or movies are adaptions from comic books or graphic novels. Some from straight novels.
Studios and executives (people who fund moves and TV shows) LOVE adaptions. Something that is being adapted from something else will have a built in audience: the people who watched/read/followed the original material. Those people will come out and see a movie or tune in every week for a TV show because they’re already invested. This is especially true with direct interpretations.
There are two type of adaptions: the more obvious and “normal” is the direct adaption, where they take what’s on the page and put it on the screen. The more removed is what I call a “loose” adaption. The first will be pretty true to the original while the later will often can mix it up and be a little different.
Direct adaption stories will lock in the hard core fans. You are guaranteed a decent sized audience with a direct adaption… if you can pull it off. The hard part of direct adaptation is that if things are too different from what the fans had been thinking of then there will be push back. Talk of people ruining the original story. Some of this will happen regardless, but sometimes if the control room doesn’t look exactly the same or better than the fans imagined it in their heads… you could be feeling the back end of some serious hate.
With a direct translation the creators live and die by how accurately they portray the original source material. And even if it’s pretty close, sometimes it’s not enough. At the same time there’s fear of looking too much like the old material and if that material is culturally outdated or morally suspect to today’s society it can lead to calamity. So sometimes you just change it all.
The changing everything mind-frame leads to a loose adaption. This is something where we skip a generation and follow our main character’s son or daughter. Or where we take a side character and give them their own story entirely. Parallel to, and occasionally intersecting with, the original story, but able to stand on it’s own. Or when we take the characters and story from an older novel and put them in modern times.
A lot of times a loose interpretation can be more accessible to an audience who isn’t familiar with the source material. It allows for more wiggle room as you redefine characters we know and introduce us to new ones. Settings and relationships can feel more fresh in a loose adaption, and the re-introduction can be a great way for new viewers to access old material.
Of course this is not to say that one type of adaption is better than the other. Only that the two are different, and it’s good to be aware of the differences. What are your favorite adaptions? Is it a loose adaption or a direct adaption?