'The Losers' -- Book, Volumes One & Two (left) and Movie, Poster (right)

As a kid, I was a book lover before I was a movie lover, so my natural approach over the years has always been to read the source material first. In other words, as soon as I heard that a film version of a book that I hadn't read before was in production, I'd read the book. Of course, time and finances are limited. And lately I've been finding that reading a book shortly before seeing the movie version is more distracting than illuminating.

The latest example is The Losers. The movie is based on a comic book series, written by Andy Diggle and illustrated by Jock*, that ran for 32 issues. The first 12 issues were recently republished in a single volume at a good price, so I picked that up and read it about a month ago. I enjoyed it immensely and could readily see it as an 80s-style action movie, which seemed to be the aim of the filmmakers, according to a report by our own Elisabeth Rappe. But as I watched the finished product on screen, I kept getting tripped up. The script cherry-picks scenes from the series and places them in a different sequence, certain characters are dramatically different than the printed predecessor, and so forth. What remains is the audience-pleasing, comedic chemistry on display from Chris Evans, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana, Columbus Short, and Oscar Jaenada.

A movie is, after all, a different beast than a novel or a comic book series or a TV series or a graphic novel or a non-fiction book. Within a shortened running time, events and characters inevitably change. Yet the question is, inevitably: how was it, compared to the book?