Adaptations Where the Source Material is Ignored....for the Better

When written works (novels, comics, etc.,) are adapted to the motion picture there are fans of the original that invariably complain of changes. When Jaws was adapted from the novel to the big screen, they removed the affair between Matt Hooper and Ellen Brody as well as the subplot with the mafia and the mayor. I don’t think these plot elements were necessary and the movie is better off for them being dropped. But these were minor changes, and the story is basically the same even with the changes. This thread is about adaptations which are radically different from the source material but still better.

I’ll nominate Men in Black. It was originally a comic book published by Malibu Comics (and maybe another company before that) in the early 1990s. In the original comic, the MIB didn’t just deal with aliens, they dealt with a myriad of supernatural threats including vampires and mutants. Oh, and instead of protecting Earth, the MIB were doing this in order to control Earth. They were the bad guys who would do whatever they could, including murdering innocent people, to achieve their goals. I don’t think an adaptation truer to the source material would have been the big hit the original movie was.

So do you know of any adaptations that ignore the source material for the better?

Soylent Green is barely “Make Room! Make Room!” and this is an improvement.

Resident Alien and The Boys come to mind. The source material isn’t totally ignored, but it is largely ignored and for the better.

The movie version of The Godfather ignored the minor subplot about Sonny Corleone’s big penis.

Oh, and Soylent Green brings to mind the masterpiece Blade Runner coming from the mediocre at very best Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

The movie adaptation of Watchmen did away with Ozymandias’ Cthulhu-squid abomination as the device for his master plan to prevent nuclear war, and replaced it with a false-flag Dr. Manhattan attack, which I felt was an improvement that made more sense and was less farfetched, and also allowed them to dispense with Alan Moore’s mescaline evangelism.

Oh, man. I thought about mentioning The Boys. If it adhered more closely to the comics I would have given up after the first episode.

Ian Flemings “The Spy Who Loved Me” novel was actually an experimental novel where Bond isn’t the protagonist, rather it’s some random woman who gets into trouble and then crosses paths with Bond halfway into the book who then rescues her from her predicament.

Even Fleming wasn’t satisfied with the novel so he specifically said any adaption should literally be in name only, and just only use the name. However the film did actually take one key thing from the novel, the main bad guy was a baddie with metal teeth. The Spy Who Loved Me film is commonly said to be one of the best Bond movies so it worked out perfectly.

actually, there was scene at daughter’s wedding when Sonny’s wife was spreading her hands wider and wider (subtle I know) which I’m assuming is the case For that matter, Fredo was described as husky in book, not a weak-looking guy

I don’t like the Tom Bombadil chapter(s) of Lord of the Rings. I think skipping him is advisable and next time I read the novel, I made a note that I might skip those chapters myself. I mean…come on. The movie was right to skip him entirely.

Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds is a short story about a farming family on an isolated hillstead gradually realising that our feathered friends are now implacably hostile to humanity and that civilisation is gradually falling to them. It’s an oppressive atmosphere but one of the main drivers of that is their isolation - they hear reports on the radio and occasionally see e.g. planes crashing in the distance.

Hitchcock took the idea of hostile birds and changed practically everything else, and scored a big hit by doing it.

I was going to say the Boys because the comic it is based on is terrible but it’s already been said but I will defend the novel Make Room Make Room. I think it’s a really good sci fi novel and the story line Soylent Green, the movie, showed was actually a very small part of the book (also in the book Soylent is a mash of Soybeans and Lentils, not people). If you like dystopian sci fi I would highly recommend the book.

I haven’t seen the play, but I did read the book Wicked and from what I understand they dropped a lot of the confusing and sexually charged plotlines and turned it into a more straightforward and happy story.

And the related subplot of a bridesmaid’s overly large vagina that can’t be
“pleased” by a normal man. (Don’t blame me if you are offended-it is in the book.)

The first three Jason Bourne movies appear to be only loosely based on the first book “The Bourne Identity.” Huge plot points from the first book are not included, and I don’t think anything from the second and third books are included in any of the movies. I think the movies are pretty good, nonetheless.

LA Confidential: the movie keeps the complex central plot of mob/police corruption plus the central trio of flawed detectives but wisely drops the “Walt Disney substitute turned his son into a depraved serial killer by producing violent cartoon pornography” sub-plot.

I was actually going to mention this. The play/musical included Nessarose as a girl in a wheelchair, while the source material had her able to walk, but she was born with no arms.

What they totally dropped was the woman Sonny was having sex with at the wedding, SHE had this entire sub plot all to herself, which added nothing to the narrative, truly addition by subtraction.

Sorry, I shouldn’t have brought up the Godfather thing since the OP says that this minor kind of change is not what this thread is about. My mistake.

To Have and Have Not.. Howard Hawks was a fishing buddy of Ernest Hemingway and told Hemingway he could make a good movie from Hemingway 's worst novel and name the novel. The movie jettisoned most of the story and left just a few of the character names, but did teach Bogart how to whistle.