Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Family Portrait

On a recent trip to my parent's house I went through my old junk from when I was a kid and found the "Marvel Super Heroes Fantasy Jigsaw Puzzle: A Marvel Comics Family Portrait Featuring Over 130 Favorite Characters" (see the full box front and back). I was into super heroes in a big way when I was a kid. It was limited mostly to toys and Saturday-morning cartoons and never translated into comic book collecting. Still, one doesn't have to be Comic Book Guy to recognize many of the characters in this group shot since many have made their way to big screen.

Below are several side-by-side comparisons of the Marvel comic book heroes and villains in the puzzle form and cinematic form, along with my grade for each adaptation.

X-Men Trilogy

Professor X
Even though I was never a Star Trek fan, it's hard to think of a better actor than Patrick Stewart to play this part. Plus, he was already bald. Grade: A

Thanks to the X-Men and Lord of the Rings trilogies, Ian McKellen went from a British stage actor not all that well known by the mainstream public to nerd icon. Still, he seems a bit older than the guy in the puzzle, who if you'll look closely, appears to be checking out Storm's mid-rift, something else that would be a stretch for Sir Ian. Grade: B-

In the first X-Men movie, Hugh Jackman's character is complaining about the matching leather uniforms by saying "You actually go outside in these things?" Cyclops responds with "Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?" If he wanted a higher grade here, he should have said "Yes." Grade: B

James Marsden, Hollywood's go-to "Other Guy" when it comes to love triangles, apparently has better pretty-boy locks than the guy in the puzzle. Still, the visor thing (adjusted for technological advances) is pretty cool. Grade: A-

A lot of people find Halle Berry sexy. I've never been much of a fan (even before Cat Woman). Berry, apparently left her sexiness out of the movie, while the puzzle Storm is flaunting hers. And if I recall, Storm is African whereas Halle Berry just sort mumbled her way in and out of some accent in the X-Men movies. Being black and having white hair isn't enough. Grade: C+

When I was a kid, Iceman shared a cartoon with Spider-Man. But apparently he's now an X-Man, and a rather bland one at that. Frozone from The Incredibles seems to have gotton closer on the super powers. Grade: B

The makeup people nailed this one. Alan Cumming's got it all: blue skin, a pointy tail, yellow eyes and only two fingers on each hand. Grade: A

Colossus was one of the main characters from the cartoon. Too bad he's hardly in the movies. Still, the adaptation seems pretty good. Grade: A-

He's a furry blue man. It would be pretty hard to mess it up. Yet even though Kelsey Grammer is covered in makeup, he still manages to have Frasier hair. Grade: B+

Angel (aka Archangel)
The wings are excellent. The rest, not so much. Grade: B

Kitty Pryde (aka Shadowcat)
This character appears in all three X-Men movies, each time played by a different actress. The most famous, and one with the biggest part is Juno's Ellen Page in X-Men III. Again, what we're missing here is the yellow spandex. Grade: B

Fantastic 4, Rise of the Silver Surfer

Mr. Fantastic
The attention to detail is earning the grade here. If it weren't for Ioan Gruffudd's gray temples, we're looking at a B at best. Grade: A-

Invisible Girl
Jessica Alba is built like a female cartoon super hero. And while I don't have a problem with the dyed-blonde hair, the fake blue eyes are a bit creepy at times. Grade: B+

Human Torch
Like Beast above, it would be pretty hard to screw this one up. He's a guy on fire. Grade: A-

The hardest of the Fantastic Four to recreate must have been Thing. You can't argue with the end result. Grade: A

Dr. Doom
Like Cyclops above, this one is all about the metal stuck to the face. It's close enough. Grade: A-

Silver Surfer
The guy in the puzzle is more like the Silver Body Boarder, so in that respect the movie version is better. Grade: A

On the left we have a guy who manages to fit into a group photo. On the right we have a swirling galactic vortex about to consume Earth. At least the helmet shape comes through when he explodes in the movie's climactic scene. Grade: D

Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2

The color and detail in the movie version look pretty sharp. Too bad Tobey Maguire's underneath the mask. Spider-Man Grade: A-, Peter Parker Grade: F

Green Goblin
The guy in the puzzle appears to be an actual green goblin. Willem Dafoe is wearing a big metal helmet/mask thing that maybe looks like a goblin. Grade: D+

Dr. Octopus
Alfred Molina is sporting modern sun glasses instead of goggles and plain clothes instead of green spandex, but the octopus tentacles are pretty cool. Grade: B+

Iron Man, Iron Man 2

Iron Man
The face shape and color hues are off a bit, but like Spider-Man, the movie version looks pretty sharp. Grade: A-

Black Widow
Though still a year away, photos from Iron Man 2 have already been released. The part of Black Widow will be played by Scarlett Johansson. This is similar to the Jessica Alba situation in that we run in to natural hair-color issues. Maybe the two actresses would have done better to switch parts. Aside from the hair, which is easy to dye, it's hard to complain too much with the casting. Grade: B+


Even though the nubby little horns on Ben Affleck's hood/mask aren't as bad as George Clooney's infamous Batman nipples, the all red leather look is a bit silly. Plus, it's Ben Affleck underneath. Daredevil Grade: B-, Matt Murdock Grade: D+

The obvious difference between puzzle Kingpin and movie Kingpin is just too glaring. They can call it getting with the times, but I can't believe the movie makers expect us to accept that their Kingpin doesn't have an ascot. Where did you think I was going with this? The cigar? Oh, race. Yeah, I don't care about that. Michael Clark Duncan works in this role. Plus he gets the already-bald points. Grade: B+

Blade Trilogy

The differences between the puzzle and movie versions of Blade are purely a matter of fashion. So although I would like to have seen Wesley Snipes with a Jheri curl, I don't blame the movie makers for going modern with the hair. Grade: B+

The Hulk, The Incredible Hulk

The Hulk
As I've stated many times in this web log, I liked the Hulk cartoon. I liked the Hulk TV show. I didn't like that the movie was a combination of the two. I guess you could say the first hulk is more like the cartoon and the second is more like the TV show. But which is more like the puzzle? It would appear the answer is the first one, because despite advances is computer-generated imagery, he is a closer adaptation because he has purple pants and is actually green. Hulk (2003) Grade: B+, The Incredible Hulk (2008) Grade: B-

Howard the Duck

Howard the Duck
Whereas puzzle Howard the Duck looks a lot like Donald Duck with a cigar, movie Howard the Duck was actually a $2 million robotic suit. Grade: B-

Captain America

Captain America
The 1990 movie Captain America is by all accounts a terrible movie (Watch the trailer here). Its IMDb User Rating is an anemic 2.8 out of 10 (even Howard the Duck managed a 4.0). But the costume is spot on, aside from the fact that it appears to be constructed from colorful garbage bags. Grade: B+

Red Skull
Puzzle Red Skull lives up to his name. Movie Red Skull looks as though he would be better named Red Skinless Face Guy or Smuckers Man. Grade: B-

Coming soon to a theater near you...

Nick Fury

Nick Fury
I could have listed this character up with Iron Man and Black widow, but Samuel L. Jackson's cameo after the Iron Man closing credits was just a ploy to plug his own movie coming out next year. There doesn't appear to be a whole lot in common between puzzle Nick Fury and movie Nick Fury besides the eye patch. In fact, movie Nick Fury looks suspiciously like Shaft. Grade: B-


Thor Loki
The movie adaptation of Thor is due out in 2011. Besides the Norse god super hero, it will have Loki as the villain, so watch for that. Also due in 2011 is The First Avenger: Captain America. Hopefully it will be better than the 1990 version.

Note, as I stated, I didn't collect comic books, so grades were based almost entirely on the visual representation presented above, with a little help from my limited memory of the cartoons. Feel free to comment at the risk of being called a nerd.

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