Comics, Film & TV

70 Movies and Shows Adapted from Indie Comics (Part 3)

There's plenty more to superheroes than just Marvel and DC. Discover which indie superheroes have made the leap from page to screen.

70 Movies and TC Shows Adapted from Indie Comics Part 3
By: Javier ReyesFeb 5, 2024, 5:15 PM

We've gone through plenty of diverse titles across our list and we still have many more to see from here. The theme for this part of the list is Superheroes. But not like the kinds you normally see on the pages of Marvel and DC comics. Whether it's through their aesthetics, subject matter, or storylines, a lot of these titles bend the rules of what it means to be a superhero. That’s the beauty of creator-owned comics in a nutshell. Creators are free to put their spin on things without being tied down to specific continuities or universes. What matters is being able to tell the story they want to tell. That makes them the perfect basis for being adapted into films or TV shows. If anything, you’ll be surprised to find out just how many non-Big Two superhero comics are out there, let alone ones being adapted. Let’s dive into the next part of the list!


Adapted into a TV Show in 2001 by TNT

Comic created by Marc Silvestri, David Wohl, Brian Haberlin, and Michael Turner

Published in 1995 by Top Cow Productions

Genres: Action, Superhero, Fantasy

Witchblade TV Show and ComicsImage: Top Cow Productions

“Witchblade” is a comic book series that you can look back on today and immediately tell it was a product of the 90s. The story follows Sara Pezzini, a hot-headed police officer who becomes the host of the sentient gauntlet Witchblade. The comic has got blood, guns, and lots of partial nudity. Like everything that was made in that period, it’s either the best or the worst, depending on who you ask. Regardless of how polarizing it is, Witchblade was one of the few comics that came out from Image Comics’ initial boom that made a lasting impression, like Spawn and Savage Dragon.

While attempts to make a film adaptation of Witchblade failed, there was a series that ran for two seasons. The show offered a more procedural take on the character's adventures while retaining the supernatural elements that made the comic popular. It’s also, as you’d expect, more PG-rated than its source material.


Adapted into a Movie in 2004 by Columbia Pictures and in 2019 by Summit Entertainment

Comic created by Mike Mignola

Published in 1993 by Dark Horse Comics

Genre: Fantasy, Sci-fi, Action, Superhero

Hellboy Movies and ComicsImage: Dark Horse Comics

Hellboy is arguably one of the most popular comic book characters outside of The Big Two. Debuting in 1993, a time when comics were shifting to darker and more mature stories, Hellboy stood out amongst the sea of capes and spandex with his Right Hand of Doom and trusty pistol, The Good Samaritan. 30 years later and creator Mike Mignola is still captivating readers with Hellboy’s adventures and battles against all sorts of twisted occult threats.

While Hellboy was already very popular among comic book readers, it was Guillermo del Toro’s phenomenal 2004 film adaptation that launched the character into mainstream prominence. To this day, there are few castings as perfect as Ron Perlman playing the titular Hellboy. It’s a shame the actor didn’t return for the 2019 reboot. Instead, we got Stranger Things’ David Harbour playing Big Red. Still a strong choice for the character, it’s just hard not hearing Perlman’s iconic voice on the character.

Jupiter’s Legacy

Adapted into a TV Show in 2021 by Netflix

Comic created by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely

Published in 2013 by Image Comics

Genre: Superhero

Jupiter's Legacy TV Show and ComicsImage: Image Comics

There’s no denying Mark Millar’s unique understanding of superheroes. Jupiter’s Legacy follows the conflicts of an aging group of superheroes, known as The Union, and their children who must bear the weight of living up to their parents’ ideals and legacy. Frank Quitely’s mystical art brings to life a world that feels whimsical and off-beat. As much as the Netflix series fleshes out the comic’s core story and characters, it’s missing the artistic charm that made the comics stand out. It ends up feeling like just another superhero show that mixes in some family drama.


Adapted into a Movie in 2010 by Marv Films

Comic created by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.

Published in 2008 by Icon Comics

Genre: Superhero

Kick-Ass Movie and ComicsImage: Icon Comics

If there’s one thing Mark Millar is a master at, it’s creating unique concepts and adding his distinct twist to them. Kick-Ass is the writer’s take on street-level superheroes this time, like Daredevil or Batman. The comic follows Dave Lizewski, an ordinary high-schooler obsessed with comics who decides to become a superhero just like the characters that inspire him. Pay no mind that he has no formal martial arts training or superpowers himself. He quickly finds out that the real world is more violent and ruthless than what he reads in comic books. The story’s blend of brutality and over-the-top violence made it the perfect blueprint to be adapted into a film. While it does take some liberties with the source material, the film carries the comic’s irreverent tone and penchant for violence.


Adapted into a TV Show in 2015 by Playstation Network

Comic created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming

Published in 2000 by Image Comics

Genre: Superhero, Crime

Powers TV Show and ComicsImage: Image Comics

Powers is a superhero comic that’s seen through the lens of ordinary people. The story follows the lives of detectives Walker and Pilgrim as part of Chicago Homicide’s special department devoted to cases involving people with powers. The comic blends elements of crime noir with superheroes to create a police procedural series unlike any other. As tailor-made as that concept sounds for a hit TV show, its two-season adaptation couldn’t hit the same critical acclaim as the comics did.

Sin City

Adapted into a Movie in 2005 by Dimension Films

Comic created by Frank Miller

Published in 1991 by Dark Horse Comics

Genres: Noir, Action

Sin City Movie and ComicsImage: Dark Horse Comics

Sin City is arguably the quintessential neo-noir graphic novel. The series explores the interconnected lives of characters living in the crime-ridden Basin City. From the down-and-out hardened detectives to femme fatales and yellow bastards, everyone in “Sin City” has got a tragic and twisted story to tell. The comic is renowned for Frank Miller’s striking black-and-white artwork that brings to life a world where violence and deception are keys to survival. While the graphic novel is already perfect as it is, director Robert Rodriguez pulled off the impossible and crafted a faithful film adaption in 2005. The film may not go too in-depth into the individual stories, but it perfectly replicates the comic’s iconic and atmospheric art style.


Adapted into a TV Show and Movie in 1997 by HBO and New Line Cinema

Comic created by Todd McFarlane

Published in 1992 by Image Comics

Genre: Superhero, Fantasy

Spawn TV Show, Movie , and ComicsImage: Image Comics

If there’s one character who deserves to be the poster boy of 90s-era comics, it’s Spawn. Created by Todd McFarlane, Spawn was the flagship title that launched Image Comics at a time when readers were craving darker and edgier comics. Spawn is the story of Al Simmons, a former Marine who makes a deal with the devil to be brought back to life from Hell to reunite with his wife. As you’d expect, the devil doesn’t play nice and resurrects Simmons as a twisted Hellspawn. But instead of serving Hell, Simmons uses his powers to fight evil forces as the anti-hero fans know and love.

Even if Spawn isn’t as prominent today as it was back then, there’s no denying its impact on comic book history. Spawn’s popularity peaked in 1997 when its story was adapted into both an animated series and a feature film. While the film was met with some lukewarm reception, the animated series is a certified cult classic among fans of the iconic character. Similar to what happened with The Maxx, the Spawn series felt like watching the pages of the comics come to life.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Adapted into a Movie in 2003 by Angry Films

Comic created by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

Published in 1999 by Wildstorm

Genres: Superhero, Fantasy

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Movie and ComicsImage: Wildstorm

“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” is the prime example of Alan Moore's dicey relationship with Hollywood and adaptations in general. The comic takes famous characters from classic English literature, like Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll, and The Invisible Man, and reimagines them as a team of Victorian-era superheroes. The series is adored for its refreshing characterization of beloved characters, imaginative world-building, and intricate plot. The film, on the other hand, takes everything that made the comics so iconic and turns it into just another generic action movie. It’s like the creators of the film just understood the concept of bringing literary characters to life as superheroes and left it at that. If that concept is something that piques your interest, then check out the comics and forget the adaptation even exists.

The Losers

Adapted into a Movie in 2010 by Dark Castle Entertainment

Comic created by Andy Diggle and Jock

Published in 2003 by Vertigo

Genres: Action, Crime

The Losers Movie and ComicsImage: Vertigo

Not to be mixed up with “The Boys,” “The Losers” is about a group of former Special Forces soldiers who go off the grid after being left for dead by their handler, Max. Using the last shot they got, the team seeks to exact revenge on their double-crossing former boss and attempt to clear their names. The comic is an action-packed romp that’s carried by the fun dynamics between the wise-cracking characters. That simple formula made for a decent action flick with a surprisingly loaded cast of Jeffery Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Chris Evans, and Zoe Saldana. It’s funny to look back on that movie today and see how all of them went on to star in other comic book roles down the line.

The Rocketeer

Adapted into a Movie in 1991 by Walt Disney Pictures

Comic created by Dave Stevens

Published in 1982 by Pacific Comics

Genres: Superhero, Action

The Rocketeer Movie and ComicsImage: Pacific Comics

The story of The Rocketeer is an interesting one. It’s got the look and storytelling to be a big hit but it never really took off. The character started as a filler story created by writer and artist Dave Stevens. Readers quickly took notice of The Rocketeer’s unique 1930s aesthetic and it eventually got its own miniseries. Stevens created the character with Hollywood in mind. He actively shopped The Rocketeer to different studios until Disney eventually scooped it up. After years of rewrites and production stalls, The Rocketeer hit theatres in 1994 but couldn’t match the heights achieved by other comic book adaptations released at the time. Interestingly enough, the massive success of Tim Burton’s Batman film led to The Rocketeer being greenlit in the first place. It came at a time when studios began to realize comic book properties were becoming hot commodities.

The Crow

Adapted into a Movie in 1994 by Dimension Films

Comic created by James O'Barr

Published in 1989 by Caliber Press

Genres: Fantasy, Action

The Crow Movie and ComicsImage: Caliber Press

The Crow is the story of Eric Draven, a man who, after getting brutally murdered by thugs alongside his fiance, is resurrected with supernatural abilities. He uses his second chance at life to enact swift and violent vengeance on the people who took everything from him. The revenge story of a tragic antihero is a song and dance we’ve seen many times before. But what makes The Crow stand out is its powerful emotional resonance. The comic is widely known to be creator James O’Barr’s cathartic response to the real-life death of his girlfriend. O’Barr’s expression of grief, loss, and desire for justice is felt throughout the narrative, making it a deeply relatable story for anyone who experienced losing a loved one.

The character has since become a cult classic largely because of the 1994 film adaptation starring Brandon Lee. It hit theaters at the perfect time and had a big impact on goth culture’s rise in the 90s. With its gritty tone, dark clothes, and black-and-white makeup, the film opened many people up to the underground subculture.

The Umbrella Academy

Adapted into a TV Show in 2019 by Netflix

Comic created by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba

Published in 2007 by Dark Horse Comics

Genres: Superhero, Fantasy

The Umbrella Academy TV Show and ComicsImage: Dark Horse Comics

As quirky and charming as The Umbrella Academy TV series is, the original comics have a distinct flavor of absurdity that’s hard to replicate. Created by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way and all-star artist Gabriel Ba, the comics had the dysfunctional Hargreeves family facing off against strange things like killer robots, intergalactic beings, and a sentient Eifell Tower. Everything from its trippy aesthetics to bombastic storytelling was an homage to the surreal style of Silver Age comics. Having the family drama play out in such a strange world makes it a joy to read through.


Adapted into a Movie in 2008 by Relativity Media

Comic created by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones

Published in 2003 by Top Cow Productions

Genres: Superhero, Action

Wanted Movie and ComicsImage: Top Cow Productions

Like a loud cry of rebellious defiance, “Wanted” caught many readers’ attention when Mark Millar started focusing on his creator-owned work. The comic is unapologetically violent and brash, a style that’s now synonymous with Millar and many of his works. “Wanted” is about an organization of supervillains that secretly controls the world since toppling the existence of superheroes. The story follows Wesley Gibson, an unassuming young man with connections to the shadowy organization, as he descends into the villain he’s destined to be.

Interestingly, and also unsurprising, the film makes significant changes from the comic. The film noticeably tones down violence and foul language but delivers highly stylized and fast-paced action scenes that are a thrill to watch.


Adapted into a Movie in 2009 by Warner Bros.

Comic created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Published in 1986 by Vertigo

Genre: Superhero

Watchmen Movie and ComicsImage: Vertigo

Watchmen is undeniably one of the most important graphic novels ever made. Its grounded deconstruction of superheroes changed the way people perceived comic books and the possibilities of the medium. For a story deeply rooted in the mythos of comics and superheroes, many believed it belongs only in its intended format. Alan Moore included. But in 2009, Zack Snyder did what many thought would never happen and adapted Watchmen into a feature-length film. While die-hard fans still argue about the film’s interpretation of the original comic’s narrative and themes, it delivered a bold visual style that was reverent to the iconic source material. As for Moore’s thoughts on the film? It’s best not to ask him about it.

Y: The Last Man

Adapted into a TV Show in 2021 by FX

Comic created by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

Published in 2002 by Vertigo

Genres: Action, Post-apocalyptic

Y: The Last Man TV Show and ComicsImage: Vertigo

As played out as the post-apocalyptic genre may be, few stories can hold a candle to the gripping tale of Y: The Last Man. Yorrick Brown is the titular last man on Earth after a mysterious plague wipes out every living male mammal on the planet. As strange of an apocalypse as that sounds, it sets the stage for a unique dynamic where all that’s left is a world of women who either want to kill, study, or sleep with Yorrick. In just 60 issues, creators Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra weaved a compelling journey of self-discovery that many readers consider one of the best graphic novel series ever made.

Naturally, a comic with such high critical acclaim gained the attention of Hollywood. After years of being trapped in development hell, a TV series based on the comic finally debuted on FX. But even after all that time hoping for a good adaptation, the show failed to capture the rich character writing that made the series so beloved.

We’re now down to the final part of the series, which you can check out here! Parts One and Two can be found here if you missed out on anything!

TAGGED: Creator Owned