Alan Moore hates the adaptations of his comic books. He gave it a chance at the start, but over time he realized that movies and TV shows could never tell the stories the same way he did in his comics with the nuance that he added to every panel of his books. As a result, Moore has demanded that any adaptations of his books not list him in the credits.
However, while Alan Moore hates the adaptations, not all of them are bad, and some of them are really good movies. Yes, the bad movies are really bad, but the good adaptations rank among the best in comic book cinema and television history. Here is a look at the films and shows based on Alan Moore’s works, ranked according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN – 17%
It should come as no surprise to fans of Alan Moore and comic book movies, in general, to know that Rotten Tomatoes ranks The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as the worst movie based on Moore’s works. Not to mention, it might be one of the worst comic book adaptations of all-time. It also made Sean Connery give up and retire from acting.
The most disappointing part is that The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a great comic book series and won the 2000 Bran Stoker Award for Best Illustrated Narrative. The movie saw classic literary characters teaming up to fight crime.
9 BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE – 40%
By the time that Batman: The Killing Joke became a movie, it was already polarizing to fans. The series was considered one of Joker’s seminal storylines but was also known for the Women in Refrigerator complaint, when Joker shot and paralyzed Barbara Gordon, ending her career as Batgirl just to get at her dad.
The movie was an R-rated animated effort that reunited the classical pairing of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as Joker. Part of the critical complaints dealt with the new sexual relationship between Batman and Batgirl and the controversial shooting.
8 THE RETURN OF SWAMP THING – 44%
The Return of Swamp Thing is the sequel of Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing (1982). However, while Craven’s movie was based on Swamp Thing from DC Comics, the sequel came in 1989, and the filmmakers chose to make the new story partially based on Alan Moore’s critically acclaimed run that began the same year as Craven’s movie premiered.
The problem is that Jim Wynorski was not a good enough director to properly bring Moore’s critically acclaimed story to the big screen. The nuanced Moore storyline was made campy, and the film remains a lackluster comic book effort.
7 CONSTANTINE – 46%
While Alan Moore was writing his Saga of the Swamp Thing series, he revived and updated an old unused DC Comics character in John Constantine. What Moore did was take this relatively unknown character and turn him into an icon. After this, Constantine got his own series in Hellblazer, which put Vertigo on the map.
In 2005, Francis Lawrence (Hunger Games) directed a pretty good movie that many critics and fans disliked because it starred Keanu Reeves, and he was not a loyal version of John Constantine from the comics.
6 FROM HELL – 57%
In 1998, Alan Moore took on a real-life true-crime story that was never solved and delivered a fantastic tale in From Hell. The story was about Jack the Ripper and focused on Det. Frederick Abberline as he tried to solve the case and stop the murders. The twist is that Moore suggested that the killings were part of an overarching conspiracy and not the acts of a single serial killer.
Johnny Depp stars as Abberline in the From Hell movie, directed by the Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society). While the film was quite good, Moore hated the fact that Depp portrayed his “gruff” detective as an “absinthe-swilling dandy.”
5 WATCHMEN – 64%
When people talk about comic books being authentic literature, the example usually offered is Alan Moore’s epic Watchmen. The story takes place in an alternate Earth where there is only one real superhero (Doctor Manhattan), and the rest are just costumed vigilantes outlawed by the government.
The movie version of Watchmen put Zack Snyder on the comic book map as he filmed it in front of a green screen and was extremely loyal to the action of the comics, but was a little tone-deaf to the ideals of Alan Moore’s tale.
4 CONSTANTINE (TV) – 72%
While fans didn’t care for Keanu Reeves’ portrayal of John Constantine in the movie version of Constantine, NBC knocked it out of the park with Matt Ryan’s version on television. And then, NBC canceled the series, leaving fans angry and wanting more. An animated series came to The CW Seed, but that wasn’t enough.
Luckily, The CW knew what they had in Matt Ryan and brought him aboard the cast of characters on Legends of Tomorrow. Honestly, Matt Ryan is a perfect John Constantine, and the Rotten Tomatoes scores show critics liked him as well.
3 V FOR VENDETTA – 72%
The best movie adaptation of Alan Moore’s works came with the 2005 version of V for Vendetta. In this story, Moore created a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world where a neo-fascist white supremacist political party runs the United Kingdom, where most of the rest of Earth was devastated by a nuclear war.
An anarchist named V wears a Guy Fawkes mask and starts a revolution. In the movie version, Hugo Weaving portrayed the masked V while Natalie Portman starred as a girl named Evey, which V rescues and then brings into the fold as the revolution begins. James McTeigue, a disciple of the Wachowski siblings, directed the film.
2 SWAMP THING (DC UNIVERSE) – 94%
While Swamp Thing remains a cult hit and Return of the Swamp Thing was almost universally disliked, the newest version of the green eco-hero showed up on the DC Universe streaming service to great critical acclaim. Certified fresh at 94%, Derek Mears portrayed Swamp Thing while Andy Bean took on the role of Alec Holland, and Crystal Reed portrayed Abby Arcane.
Despite the high critical praise, DC canceled the series almost immediately after it started airing, and the Season 1 run dropped from 13 episodes to 10. This change caused the amazing series to rush to a conclusion, which is the only complaint about the quality of one of the best shows to hit the DC Universe.
1 WATCHMEN (HBO) – 97%
The highest-ranked television or movie based on Alan Moore’s works is the currently running HBO series Watchmen. This series is influenced by Moore’s iconic comic books but is a sequel taking place two decades later where a white supremacist group rises, influenced by Roarsarch, and plans to take over the world.
The series touched a lot of relevant subject matters, from racism to social justice to public reform. It used historical events like the Tulsa Race Massacre and the role of black soldiers in the World Wars. It also tied in nicely to the comics with Silk Spectre, Ozymandias, and Doctor Manhattan playing a role. It has a 97 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
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