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Comic Book Movies and TV: The Year 1994

Comic book adaptations to other media have been popular since the early 1900s. Here’s a look at 1994’s translations from paper to film.

In Theaters:

The Crow

Image Source: Google Images

This story is based on the comic book series by James O’Barr about a musician that is killed and comes back from the dead with the help of a mystical crow to protect the woman he loves. This was Brandon Lee’s breakout picture and tragically his last, due to a prop error on set. The gothic overtones blended well with its revenge-charged theme and simple story. This film did well in theaters but gained an instant cult following and spawned two sequels and a TV series.

The Shadow

Image Source: Google Images

Alec Baldwin played Lamont Cranston, the millionaire playboy who was secretly The Shadow. Baldwin’s performance was solid and sprinkled with humor, but the plot of the film was less exciting than the parts of its sum. The picture was not the blockbuster the studio intended and its performance sunk what was hoped would be a franchise. This film has also gained a cult following over the years, standing on its performances and dynamic visuals.

The Mask

Image Source: Google Images

Jim Carrey was coming off of the success of Ace Ventura when this film hit theaters. It was also a breakout film for Cameron Diaz. The Tex Avery-esque humor blended perfectly with Carrey’s caricature performance when wearing the mask, delivering an unforgettable spectacle. Despite being a blockbuster for Carrey, the film produced only one dismal sequel. However, there was a cartoon series, which was also a coup for the actor – he appeared in three different cartoons at the same time (Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber).


Image Source: Google Images

Peter Hyams directed this Jean Claude Van Damme effort that is widely considered the actor’s best film. Based on a Dark Horse comic book story, the plot involved a policeman (Van Damme) who travels back in time to save his wife and police partner. The script was written by SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica producer Mark Verheiden.


The Fantastic Four

Image Source: Google Images

One of the most notorious low-budget, little seen movies of all time, the Roger Corman-produced The Fantastic Four never had a wide release. Though the cast was told the film would be seen in theaters, the film was never released and created only so its producers could retain the copyright to the property. Made in only a month, the film is better than the odds gave it. The computer-animated sequence at the film’s climax was also impressive for its time.

On Television:

Model By Day

Image Source: Google Images

Famke Janssen starred in this movie special as a model who moonlighted as a crime-fighter. She was assisted by her martial arts trainer, Master Chang. The movie was a pilot for a possible series that never materialized.

On Saturday Mornings:

Spider-Man: The Animated Series

Image Source: Google Images

The modern-day mass marketing of Spider-Man began here. This animated series brought Spidey back to Saturday Morning television while simultaneously launching a new toy line that has kept Spider-Man action figures on the toy shelves up to the present day. This series would last five seasons on Fox Kids.

The Tick

Image Source: Google Images

Ben Edlund’s independent comic was fully realized on this Saturday morning hit. This was a different kind of cartoon for kids that mixed humor and super-heroics. The Tick and his partner Arthur, who never took off their superhero costumes, protected The City against hilariously themed cartoon villains. Years later, the comic would also inspire a live-action series.


Image Source: Google Images

This cartoon adapted the Jim Lee Image series for animated CBS television. The violence found in the comic book was toned down considerably for this series, which featured all of the characters from the Image series. The show ran for thirteen episodes as part of the network’s “Action Zone” lineup along with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Skeleton Warriors.

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