The Nature of Adaptation: Form v. Content

Hulu added the second season of Fargo to instant streaming recently, and my wife and I devoured it this past weekend. One episode in, and we were hooked. Fargo is an even blend of style, mystery, action, and dark Midwestern humor. It’s a show that uses style, editing, and composition to fully submerge its audience into the emotions of the sequence, rather than hanging its hat on a melodramatic narrative structure.

When we finished, I felt the need to immediately blurt out, “This is one of the best comic book adaptations I’ve ever seen.” This sounded silly and confusing in that Fargo isn’t adapted from a comic book. It carries the name of a popular Coen Brothers movie and crafts crime stories in the style and tone of the film. There were no comic books to be found on the set of the film, and none of the iconic characters from the world of comics even graced the background.

But that’s what makes this adaptation interesting. While Marvel and DC continue to make films using their popular licensed characters, the second season of Fargo is more of a comic book adaptation than either of the “cinematic universes” that the aforementioned companies are dumping into movie theaters.

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GEEK PITCH: Spider-Man

Editor’s Note: GEEK PITCH is an irregular column on ScottWaldyn.com that re-purposes what would normally be a nerd-fueled fever dream into a movie pitch.


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We all know a new Spider-Man film is coming now that Spidey’s been welcomed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (through a deal reached between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures). With the little bits of news filtering through the pipeline, we’ve learned that Tom Holland is our new web-head, with Marisa Tomei as Aunt May. We also know that the joint film team is eyeing a new villain audiences haven’t seen on screen yet, with the rumor on the street fingering Kraven the Hunter as our criminal operator.

But that’s it. Beyond these small morsels, the doorway is wide open, with a plethora of questions waiting to be answered. Who will write it? What’s the story about? Are Sony and Marvel interested in reading a movie pitch from some guy on the Internet?

Before anyone can say no to that last question, I’m going to lay my cards out on the table. Take a moment to grab some popcorn or refill that soda. You ready?

AHEM.

In this universe, Peter Parker is still new to the dual identity game, having been Spider-Man for only a year. Uncle Ben has already passed, and the funeral is long behind Peter and his Aunt May. They’ve moved on, picked up the pieces, and are now making life work. At school, Peter is just another forgettable face, tucked away in a sea of students. Only Harry Osborn pays him any attention, and at that, it’s mostly to “study” Peter’s homework. It’s okay, though. Harry is dating Gwen Stacy, the nerd queen, science geek, and idol of Peter’s eye. When she comes over during their “study” sessions at the Osborn place, those few moments of nirvana are enough to keep Peter perilously toeing the line of expulsion.

Outside of school, Parker’s a low-level hero who’s a thorn in the side of common crooks, bank robbers, and police officers — he’s more of a nuisance than a revered superhero, frequently stepping on the toes of the local law enforcement. But Peter’s trying. He sees heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow, thinks of his murdered Uncle Ben, and dons the homemade Spider-Man mask anyway, looking for ways to aid New York however he can. It’s a compulsion at this point, a way to fill a void.

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