Zack Snyder has directed some pretty cool comic book adaptations for the silver screen; 300, Watchmen and (hopefully) Superman. So when the advertisements for his latest film Sucker Punch started popping up, it was easy for the non-comic-reading public (or even some die-hards) to assume it was another translation. Before going to see it this past weekend, my boyfriend said, “So...this was a graphic novel, right?” Wrong.
Really though, can you blame him? Sucker Punch has comic book written all over it. In fact, this was Snyder’s first original work to be released in theaters so it’s really not that far fetched. For his first film, he remade Dawn of the Dead and his last movie before Sucker Punch, Legends of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga’Hoole was based on a series of children’s books.
So just how was Sucker Punch and why do I think it screams comic book?
I went into this movie with few expectations. And sure enough, what you see is what you get. I knew it wasn’t going to be Shakespeare. Hot chicks. Guns. Dragons. There’s not really a better formula than that. But movies are supposed to have coherent plots and cohesive storylines, right? Or is that not a prerequisite anymore? It’s so hard to tell these days. Sucker Punch had neither.
Ok, let me rephrase that, Sucker Punch had a coherent plot for anyone paying attention, it was just extremely bare. A young girl known only as Baby Doll accidentally kills her sister while trying to murder her evil stepfather. He sends her packing to an asylum where she’s promptly scheduled for a lobotomy. But to deal with the impending horror, Baby Doll slips into some sort of fugue state where she realizes herself as a girl trapped in a brothel who then falls into yet a further daydream within that reality where she’s fighting off samurais with the other hot crazy chicks from the hospital while dancing for lascivious men and attempting to break out. It sounds as complicated as Inception. It’s really not.
Sucker Punch is just as visually stunning as Snyder’s other films and contains his trademark slow-motion fight scenes and the like, but that’s pretty much all it was - nice to look at. With all the intense imagery though, it does seem tough to find a place to fit actual story in. This is where the comic book idea comes in.
While Sucker Punch’s story was pretty thin, the general idea behind it was actually pretty cool. It has an “Alice In Wonderland” feel to it, which Snyder himself has compared it to, and given enough time, could develop into something extremely dynamic. A comic series would leave room for expanding that story, which at its core was relatively interesting. Of course the plot would have to take place mostly within the time-frame of the film since things are sort of wrapped up in the end.
Regardless, there’s plenty of room for expansion. Baby Doll is not really insane, just a victim who fights back. That kind of dynamic is always interesting. Carla Gugino’s character, Dr. Gorski would make for a very intriguing back-story I’m sure and one of the villains, the seedy Blue played by Oscar Isaac, certainly has a lot more to say. And then there’s a few things that could potentially take place post-Sucker Punch. Regardless, both the dream sequences and the main reality where the film takes place are worthy of development in my opinion. That is, if you have the right talent on board.
Concept art for the movie was designed by Alex Pardee, the creator of Bunnywith from Snafu Comics. And those pieces looked pretty wicked. Put him on the title and you’re halfway there. Two very different authors of course but I could see Greg Rucka or Warren Ellis taking on something like this. Not to say they would, but I think either one would take the material and totally run with it. It’s hard to take the themes in the film seriously with the gratuitousness nature of the entire thing but that’s exactly where I feel a comic could branch out.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one other thing that really struck me from the film. The only thing missing from a Sucker Punch comic would be the addition of the fantastic soundtrack Snyder put together for the movie. It included covers of some very iconic songs that played extremely well with the content; “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” “White Rabbit” and “Where Is My Mind?” just to name a few. Now all in my mp3 player on repeat.
Will we ever see a Sucker Punch’s comic book? The film made just over $19 million for the weekend (Snyder’s poorest live-action opening to-date) but everything and anything is made into comics these days so you never know. Maybe someone will see the potential I did in this outline of a story and give it the green light.