These are the books, comics, and whatnot that I believe are unfilmable as a standard cinematic project. That is not to say that people have not tried to film them, it’s just that these stories just do not work in the standard 2 to 4 hour theatrical release.
Watchmen – While the 2009 movie did manage to get some things right (Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach was dead on), a lot of the original graphic novel was lost in the streamlining. Missing is the extended backstory of the Minutemen, summed up in a opening credit montage. Also lost is the ful scope of what the appearance of Doctor Manhattan did to the world. I would like to see someone try to do the Watchmen right somday, but I think that the only way it can be done right is as a miniseries on one of the pay cable channels.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams wrote a true sci-fi comedy classic, which has been adapted to radio and television (look for it on Hulu). However, the 2005 movie failed to capture the essence of the book. I’m not sure if it was because Hollywood thought it was too British (which has not hampred book sales in the U.S.), or thought it needed to be “updated” (which it did not), but the mucking around with the story and the elements failed as a movie (Marvin sounds more pissed off than depressed). As long as Hollywood insists on twisting around the story, then Hitchhiker’s will remain unfilmable.
Batman: No Man’s Land – An epic storyline in which after disasters, Gotham City is walled off from the United States. A new paradigm within the isolated city begins to form, with former Bat-villains and the remaining Gotham P.D. carving up parts of the city for their control. The shear scope of this storyline makes this story impossible to be contained in a four hour theatrical release. I’m not even sure even DC would attempt to make it into one of their animated films.
Most works by H.P. Lovecraft – There have been attempts in the past (Re-Animator one of the most famous, if not the most famous), but most fail to capture the weirdness of Lovecraft’s original works. A lot of it is just far too out there to be captured properly.
Cineverse Cycle – This trilogy of books written by Craig Shaw Gardner (Slaves of the Volcano God, Bride of the Slime Monster, and Revenge of the Cute and Fluffy Bunnies) actually seems like it would be perfect for movies, especially since it takes place in an alternate dimension that is a parody of movie genres. In my opinion, I’m not sure that Hollywood is ready to parody the B-movies like this series does.
G.I. Joe – By G.I. Joe, I am referring to the classic Adventure Team line and not the Real American Hero line, or whatever the most recent movie was based on. The Adventure Team is what I grew up with. And while the whole adventure theme would be perfect for the big screen, I feel that it is unfilmable simply because no one in Hollywood really sees the potential of the toy line as the new standard for action.
Wild Cards – A shared universe book series edited by George R. R. Martin. The series speculates what would happen if part of the population of the world were to become infected with a virus that either creates super powers, or super freaks. The large scale nature of the series, along with a lot of mature themes (one of the characters is a pimp who gains power from sex) will keep this series from hitting the silver screen.