10 Movies You Wouldn’t Suspect Were Based On Literature

June 14th, 2012

Almost every movie that hits the big screen nowadays is based on a book: Lord of the Rings, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and the various big-budget comic book movies all started out as works of literary art. There are still more that many people don’t even realize were novels (or graphic novels), like the ten listed below (and these are just the icing on the cake).

10. Simon Birch

This film is loosely based on A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, who didn’t believe his book could be successfully made into a film, but that’s not enough to stop Hollywood from trying. That’s why they changed the name from “Owen Meany” to “Simon Birch”.

9. Babe

This lovable tale is based on a novel called The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith. It was actually retitled to Babe, the Gallant Pig when it was published in the US, and then again to just Babe for the movie.

8. Forrest Gump

Many people know and love Forrest Gump as a film, but did you know it was originally a novel by Winston Groom? Apparently a lot of Gump’s sex life and profanity was toned down for the movie, meaning there’s a much filthier version of the character in literary form.

7. Bubba Ho-Tep

Not many people have heard of this film, as it is considered a B-Horror flick, but you will wanna seek it out after you find out what it’s about: An aging Elvis and JFK are stuck in a retirement home, which they must protect from an ancient mummy who terrorizes the residents of the home. Intrigued? Well, it gets better: The film stars Bruce Campbell. What you may not know is that it’s actually based on a novella by Joe R. Lansdale which was featured in The King Is Dead: Tales of Elvis Post-Mortem.

6. Road to Perdition

Yep, even Tom Hanks does comic book movies. Road to Perdition started out as a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, which led to various spin-offs about the life and times of the characters, including Road to Purgatory, Road to Paradise and Return to Perdition. Collins’ comic is actually loosely based on a Japanese manga called Lone Wolf and Cub.

5. Minority Report

Phillip K. Dick wrote the original short story which served as the basis for the movie, and it was originally published in a collection called Fantastic Universe. As you can guess, there are some differences between Dick’s story and the film, for instance the main character isn’t the Tom Cruise-ish action hero he’s made out to be. Instead, he’s a 50 year-old, balding, out-of-shape cop who creates Precrime.

4. Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket is actually an adaption of The Short-Timers, a semi-autobiographical book by former Marine Gustav Hasford. Certain parts of the book were modified and combined for the movie, while some other major sequences were left out of Kubrick’s film altogether.

3. 9 1/2 Weeks

This erotic drama, about an art gallery employee’s kinky relationship with a Wall Street arbitrageur, is based on the published memoirs of Elizabeth McNeill (in the movie, Kim Basinger’s character is named Elizabeth McGraw).

2. Men In Black

The hit trilogy starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones actually started out as a comic book series from the early nineties. It was created and written by Lowell Cunningham and illustrated by Sandy Carruthers, and was originally published by Aircel Comics (who were then bought by Malibu Comics, and Malibu was bought by Marvel Comics, so Marvel ended up with them in the end… Avengers/Men In Black cross-over, anyone?). The comics are quite different from the kid-friendly movies, for instance the Men in Black don’t just deal with aliens, but also demons, mutants and other supernatural beings. Also, the agents will stop at nothing to keep the paranormal under wraps, though instead of erasing witnesses’ minds, they simply kill them. The comic book version of the agency is actually more corrupt and sinister than it is in the film, as the MIB seek to manipulate the world in their own image by keeping the truth hidden.

1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

That’s right, Touchstone’s (a.k.a. Disney’s) classic live-action meets animation film was not an original, out-of-the-blue idea. Instead, it is based on a story called Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf. Other than the names of the characters, the book is quite different than the movie. One major difference is that the toons are actually comic strip characters and not animated cartoons, thus cameos include Dick Tracy, Beetle Bailey, and Dagwood Bumstead as opposed to Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker. Also, (SPOILER ALERT) Roger Rabbit is murdered in the book, as opposed to being framed for murder. There’s only one line of dialogue from the novel that made it onto the big screen, and that’s when Baby Herman says “I’ve got a 50-year-old lust and a 3-year-old dinky.”

Another fun little factoid is that Gary K. Wolf wrote another novel, Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit?, though it isn’t a prequel or sequel to his first book, nor does it have anything to do with the movie. It’s a stand-alone mystery tale that happens to feature the same characters.