While the movie industry has superhero flicks nailed, it didn’t happen without some growing pains. The same goes for comic book movies not based on superhero licenses. While fewer and far between, they still had their fair share of growing pains. One of the first to truly capture the spirit of the original work while modernizing certain aspects that were anachronistic was V for Vendetta. Easily one of the best comic book adaptions to date. Yes, that includes the Avengers.
V for Vendetta tells an uncompromising story of a propaganda filled and culture of fear world, centering in the United Kingdom. The government has a totalitarian regime that controls every aspect of their citizens lives, including the media. Evey Hammond (Natalie Portman) is saved by a man calling himself V (Hugo Weaving), wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. The two join forces as Evey decides who she is and her ability to control that while V leads her.
V for Vendetta is one of prolific writer Alan Moore’s first original works. Due to publication issues the story took the better part of the 1980’s to conclude. Reading the book now is difficult, mostly due to the increased talent of Moore and artist David Lloyd over the years. This is one of the few pieces of work in the history of film that it is better to watch the movie. If not for Scott Pilgrim, V would be my favorite non-superhero comic book movie. The thought provoking ideas this conveys, not only through a solid script but powerful performances from Weaving and Portman, are haunting given today’s political climate. There’s a reason why the internet hackers Anonymous use the Guy Fawkes mask as their symbol as well.
Both Portman and Weaving gave amazing performances. This was the role Portman shaved her head for. That level of commitment indicates how much she put into this character. Weaving on the other hand, has his face either covered or hidden in shadow throughout the film. Much like voice acting, it can’t be overstated how important it is to convey emotion through ones voice. Weaving nails this, with moments like his v-alliteration speech sticking out prominently.
Guy Fawkes Day is November 5th (remember, remember the 5th of November). The movie was set to release on November 5th in 2005, which was not only Guy Fawkes Day, but the 200th anniversary. Completely dropping the ball, the movie was pushed until March, 2006. Considering how important Guy Fawkes Day is, especially in today’s world, capitalizing on the anniversary with a film that centers on it is brilliant marketing. This was a missed opportunity.
Rumor has it that Alan Moore, who has famously abandoned all rights to and disowned many projects in the past due to his dissatisfaction with corporations, was presented with an early screening of the V. Supposedly he actually enjoyed it. The producers (the Wachowski siblings) used this to promote the film. Moore was so furious he signed over all rights to his partner on the project, David Lloyd. Moore’s name appears nowhere in the credits.
Given the incredibly popularity of superhero movies, I doubt we’ll see many more comic adaptations that aren’t Marvel or DC based. Then again, Hollywood might be looking for anything comic book related, so who knows. In the mean time, watch V. This is one film I would recommend to anyone who dislikes superhero, or even comic book movies. This gets it right.
Think missing November 5th was a wasted opportunity? Did Alan Moore actually enjoy the film? Comment below!
Venomous villains of virtue.