London's BFI Southbank and BFI Max have just announced they will be teaming up this July and August for a big-screen extravaganza of films adapted from comics presenting the breadth and depth of the genre.
The season is a strong reminder that films based on comics should never be dismissed as mindless entertainment, with screenings of Christopher Nolan’s hotly anticipated next instalment of Batman The Dark Knight (2008) which opens at BFI IMAX on 25 July, Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City (2005) and the Oscar-nominated Persepolis (2007).
From cape-wearing superheroes to leather-clad mutants the comic book movie comes in all shapes, sizes, and (intergalactic) species. Highlights include All-Nighter screenings of the X-Men trilogy introduced by Sir Ian McKellen and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, both at BFI IMAX – Britain’s biggest screen. The new The Incredible Hulk (2008), Richard Donner’s Director’s Cut of Superman the Movie (1978), Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy (2004) and the gloriously irreverent superhero parody Mystery Men (1999) are amongst the films screening at BFI Southbank. Mystery Men will also screen at BFI IMAX.
The comic book movie doesn’t always have to mean superheroes, spandex and mass destruction, of course. Smaller, more independent-minded writers and artists have also found their work adapted for the big screen. Ghost World (2001), American Splendor (2003), Road To Perdition (2002) and A History of Violence (2005) all began life as hand-drawn comics published outside the mainstream.
This jam-packed season has something for everyone. Joseph Losey’s extravagant slice of 60s Eurocamp, Modesty Blaise (1966) and a rare outing in the UK for Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1967) offer psychedelic adaptations of European comic strips.
Out at the Pictures – the BFI's dedicated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender strand – contemplates the gay sub-text of X2 (2003) and considers the role of the superheroine in the masculine world of comics with a screening of Tank Girl (1995).
Other screenings during the school holidays also include the much underrated gem The Rocketeer (1991).
Full details and times at: www.bfi.org.uk/whatson