In 2003, Fox Studios released a film version of Alan Moore's popular graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen...er, sort of. It had the same basic premise and about half of the same characters, but was otherwise rather a departure from Moore's original. Joining the League in the film are Dorian Gray (as in The Picture of) and Tom Sawyer, who is all grown up and a member of the American Secret Service. Due to the film character of the Invisible Man not being public domain, the screenwriters invented Rodney Skinner, who stole the invisibility formula and turned himself transparent in order to become a criminal mastermind.Alan Quatermain is recruited out of retirement in Africa, where he relocated after the death of his son, to lead the current generation of the League; Mina Harker, Dr. Henry Jekyll, Captain Nemo, Skinner and Gray are likewise recruited, while Sawyer joins voluntarily. The League believes themselves to be in a race against time to stop terrorists from destroying a peace conference, but the reality is a little different.Jekyll and Hyde are a little different; Jekyll gets more screentime than Hyde, and he has to ingest a secret formula to release the monster. Oh, and Mina is now a widowed vampire instead of a divorced Badass Normal.A notorious box office flop in the crowded summer of 2003 - that had been plagued by a troubled production that included losing some of their sets to flooding in Prague - LXG is also notable for being the final film of Sean Connery, who retired shortly thereafter due to the negative experience and his growing dissatisfaction with how modern Hollywood operates. While the film is worthwhile as a decent example of Steampunk/neo-Victorian aesthetics, the storyline genuinely is pretty bad. This makes it frustrating, because if the plot had matched the production values, it could have been one of the best movies in years.
In addition to many of the tropes found in the graphic novel, the film version provides examples of:
The Invisible Man's true identity is that of Rodney Skinner. Tony Curran played a character named "Skinner" in the TV movie Menace (though this could also be unintentional).
Adaptation Distillation: so, SO much. First the whole Fu Manchu story arc had to be dropped because the studio couldn't get the rights to the character. The major characters backstories are seemingly moved around (or not shown at all). And to that new major characters were added such as Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer who were probably (if ever shown) only were as supporting or cameo parts in the graphic novels.
Mina and Quatermain, compared to their portrayal in the comics. Quatermain is a Badass Grandpa who's every bit the Great White Hunter that he was when he was younger, and Mina's retained vampiric abilities from her past encounter with Dracula. In the comics, Quatermain was introduced as a burned-out opium addict, and Mina was a Badass Normal whose defining feature was her mysterious Dark and Troubled Past.
Dorian Gray, compared to his portrayal in the original Oscar Wilde novel. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, there was never any indication that his immortality did anything other than prevent him from aging. In the film, he has a Wolverine-esqueHealing Factor that makes him unbeatable in battle, healing any injuries instantly.
All There in the Script: Sawyer never gets his first name mentioned. When he first appears, he introduces himself as "Special Agent Sawyer of the American Secret Service," and for the remainder of the movie, all the other characters address him as Sawyer. His first name is used once in a deleted scene, which can be viewed on the DVD; going strictly by the theatrical release, unless you're Genre Savvy enough to work out his identity on your own, you'd never know he was Tom Sawyer.
Well, if you take time to watch the credits, it does list him as "Tom Sawyer".
And said deleted scene also mentions that his partner was named "Agent Finn". It's kind of hard to get more obvious than that.
America Saves the Day: The main reason for Tom Sawyer's inclusion — the studio requested that an American be added to the cast. (Which, as Young Gun shows, creates a huge anachronism.) But in terms of the movie, Sawyer wasn't the only one who saved the world from having a world war.
Anachronism Stew: All over the place. In the first scenes alone for instance, the British soldiers being attacked are straight out of World War I rather than 1899. And that isn't counting Nemo's automobile, which wouldn't look too much out of place in the 1920s-30s.
Canon Foreigner: Skinner is the only member of the League who is not directly imported from a Victorian-era novel. This is because Griffin isn't in the public domain, at least as far as movie rights goes, unlike the rest of the League's members. Similarly, there's M's Dragon Sanderson Reed (who also isn't from any preexisting source), a loose Campion Bond analogue who was presumably added because 20th Century Fox didn't want to anger MGM by including James Bond's ancestor.
Subverted with Gray and Sawyer. Neither character ever physically appeared in the comic, and they certainly weren't members of the League, but considering thepremise of the comic, they both definitely exist in the comic's universe. note Dorian Gray's portrait appears on the cover of Volume 1 as a Freeze-Frame Bonus, as does a painting of the Nautilus done by Basil Hallward, the artist who painted the portrait in the book. And a darkly humorous "Paint By Numbers" version of Gray's portrait is also included in the bonus materials for Volume 1.
Furthermore, Griffin is mentioned as the source behind the invisibility potion, but not by name.
Clueless Mystery: Quatermain works out the true identity of the Big Bad, but there's never any indication given of how, since the only clues come in the form of his secretary calling him "Professor" and by The Dragon calling him by his real first name (which is a very common one).
Cold Sniper: Subverted with Quatermain. He's not exactly "cold" and he is one of the good guys, but he's a grumpy old man.
Cool Car: Nemo's "Automobile" which was mostly a souped up 50s style Convertible
Curse Cut Short: During the car chase scene in Venice, Sawyer takes control of the wheel and has to avoid falling debris at one point, giving a loud yell of "WHOA!". The way he moves his mouth afterwards indicates the next word Sawyer used would have started with "sh".
Flanderization: Quatermain goes from a burned-out opium addict with an adventurous past to a full-on Badass who cracks wise in the face of danger. Mina goes from a mysterious Badass Normal who once survived a brush with Dracula to a full-on Vampire.
Flat "What.": Quatermain after M aka Moriarty informs him that he would be in the league.
Good Guns, Bad Guns: You know Gray is a rotter when he shoots Ishmael...using a Luger! Also, the villains' automatic rifles resemble Steam Punk AK47s, while those carried by Nemo's men look like Sten guns.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: In this version, Mina's vampire bite scars are just the traditional two little pinpricks rather than the massive and disfiguring scars she had in the comic.
Groin Attack: Quatermain to one of the Fantom's mooks in Africa and Mina to The MoleDorian Gray during their fight, the latter with a knife.
Dorian: "If that had been permanent, I would have be very upset."
I Have Your Wife: The Fantom forces the cooperation of the scientists who are helping him by holding their wives and children in prison cells.
I Just Want to Be Normal: Quatermain when he refused Reed's offer to join the league back in England due to hardships he experienced during his many years in Africa, including the fact that he had to be the witness of many people killed. Most of them are people he knew back in his adventurer days, including his only son.
It's Personal: Sawyer's reason for joining the League. The detailed explanation was cut from the film but is shown in deleted scenes on the DVD. The Fantom killed Sawyer's partner, a childhood friend. This agent is unnamed but he's obviously Huck Finn. The novelization states this outright.
Big Bad: "Now some of you will pause to ask; why I'm letting you know all this? What fool reveals his strategem before the game is over? It is over — for you. Because my voice isn't the only sound being made. While I've rambled on, a secondary layer of inaudible sound higher than humans can heard — audible only to dogs, lower animals — is being heard by crystal sensors dotted around your vessel." Gray: "Sensors attached to bombs. Bomb voyage!"
Mythology Gag: In one scene, a poster telling of "Volcanoes on Mars!" can be seen in the background, a nod to the plot of the second volume of the comic. In another scene, there's an advertisement for an upcoming carnival that features "Dr. Alan Moore" and "Dr. Kevin O'Neill".
Neck Snap: During the fight in Dorian Gray's mansion Captain Nemo does this to one of the Fantom's mooks.
Offstage Villainy: Nemo and Hyde. The movie doesn't have Kick the Dog moments for either of them like the comics. They come across as relatively decent people with no qualms about killing their enemies and, in the case of Hyde, a lust for violence that still doesn't stop him from doing the right thing - in fact, he's the one suggesting plans to save everyone - despite characters often talking about how detestable they are.
Oh Crap: Hyde, when Dante drinks a large amount of Jekyll's potion.
One To Million To One: Mina can split up into a swarm of bats at will, travel some distance and reform into a human again.
One-Winged Angel: Dr Jekyll and Dante who turns into a huge, towering behemothnote with one big arm, one little arm and a comparatively tiny head after drinking too much potion.
Passing the Torch: Quatermain's last words to Sawyer are "May this new century be yours, son, as this one was mine". In a possible double meaning, this also foreshadows America taking over from Britain as the dominant world power in the Twentieth Century.
Quickly Demoted Woman: Mina's position as leader of the League in the comics is handed off to Quatermain instead. A possible subversion, however; she becomes the most powerful member of the cast, an immortal vampire.
She could be considered Second-in-command, or even the new leader following Quatermain's death.
Red-Headed Hero: Both Mina and Jekyll have red or auburn hair. Skinner may also qualify; the character is bald, but the actor is red-haired, suggesting that Skinner would be too if he had hair.
Red Shirt: Basically anyone on Nemo's crew other than the captain himself. (And maybe Ishmael.)
Retraux: The Big Bad's recorded message (though only heard by the League) is seen by the audience as a scratchy B&W film.
Reverse Mole: They thought Skinner was the mole. They thought wrong. He was spying on the real one. In the novelization , it turns out that he's actually a planted member of Her Majesty's Secret Service!
Rouge Angles of Satin: The DVD subtitles contain a glaring error. Quatermain, when describing his last mission to Sawyer, says that "I even took my son along." Somehow, this was transcribed on the DVD as "I even took my son-in-law."
And in the fandom this is even worse. The character is Dorian Gray; his first name is not Darien or Dorain and his last name is not Grey. That's just for starters — the worst one was probably a fic that misspelled Tom Sawyer's first name as Tow.
Overlapping with Spell My Name with an S, Quatermain isn't helped by the fact that his son's gravestone spells it "Quartermain".
Rousing Speech: Sawyer gives one to the League after they manage not to get killed. It's even longer and more Narm-tastic in the deleted scenes.
Russian Reversal: This exchange between Skinner and Gray, right after Quatermain and Sawyer captured Hyde:
Skinner: Hullo, Dorian. The great white hunter's bagged his prize. (one of Nemo's redshirts goes flying out the door to Hyde's prison) Gray: Or the prize bagged him.
Schizo Tech: The firearms used by Fantom forces. They were really Uzis, AKs and Thompson physically altered to look like steampunk weapons. Likewise for Nemo's troops, who wield steampunk-ized Sten guns.
How about a tank at the end of the 19th century, which magically appears in the middle of London?
Secret Identity Identity: A double feature with the Fantom. Not only is he really M, the guy who hired the League in the first place, but as Quatermain somehow figures out, he's really Professor Moriarty, the presumed-dead nemesis of Sherlock Holmes!
Sequel Hook: The Meaningful Funeral ends with a native witch doctor doing...something that makes the ground shake, lightning crash across the sky, and the clouds to turn dark. This was probably meant to be Quatermain coming back from the dead. However, according to Jason Flemyng, the sequel will probably never happen because Connery doesn't want to do it. That and he's retired from acting.
The film's less than stellar box office didn't help.
Also, in one scene there's a brief shot of a poster with a message about "Volcanoes On Mars!", a subtle nod to Vol. 2 of the comics where the League battles the aliens from The War of the Worlds. Had a sequel actually gotten made, the plot might have had something to do with this.
This appears to be a reference to a throwaway line told by Quatermain that he was blessed by a witch doctor after saving his village. As the witch doctor said, "Africa would not let [him] die." Quatermain died in Mongolia but was brought back to Africa to be buried, possibly allowing the blessing to work. Also, the DVD reveals that the witch doctor is chanting "Arise".
Sideways Smile: Partially in England when M watches Quatermain confused after hearing Skinner's voice, not knowing he's totally invisible.
Shooting Superman: An odd example where both sides of the conflict are shooting and Superman. When Mina fights Dorian, they go at each other with knives and sword...but they're both immortal, and quickly heal up from the surface cuts they're giving each other. Dorian comments, as cuts to his and Mina's faces close up, that "We'll be at this all day."
Subverted with the Invisible Man. Griffin is said to have died before the League got a chance to recruit him, whereas the book states that he faked his supposed death at the end of Wells' novel. But Skinner, who takes Griffin's place, survives until the end of the movie, whereas Griffin was killed by Hyde in the second volume of the comics.
Stillborn Franchise: Apparently there were plans for sequels but since Sean Connery refused to do anymore of these films.
That the film did poorly at the American box office didn't help either.
The Stinger: After all of the characters leave Quatermain's grave, an African shaman begins chanting over it... and the dirt above the grave begins to tremble as the skies darken and lightning flashes.
Took a Level in Badass: While hardly an extra in the comic (see Badass Normal in the general series section) and actually demoted in role, Mina is upgraded into an incredibly powerful elder vampire who is the most dangerous member of the team and who gets the movie's primary Wolverine-style fight with fellow immortal Dorian Gray.
War for Fun and Profit: This is the Big Bad's plan - kidnap the world's scientists, make advanced war machines and Super Soldiers, and sell them to both sides of World War One. Oh, and he's also trying to instigate the war in question, although, when the League foils his plan, he replies that the war is inevitable.
We Can Rule Together: The Big Bad makes this offer to The Mole, who declines. It's something of a subversion of the trope, however; he doesn't refuse because he's a good guy (he's definitely not). He just doesn't want to be bothered, and would quite like to return to his old life.
Another reason he refused is because he's seen empires come and go in his long life. Though the Big Bad is not happy with his decision, accusing him of suggesting the Big Bad to be his inferior.
What Could Have Been: Roger Moore was offered a cameo as Campion Bond, a part that was ultimately cut from the script, and would've been the first time two actors to have played James Bond shared the screen.
The ending cuts to Quatermain's hand coming out of the dirt and grabbing his rifle. A Call Back to what he said earlier in the film, "Africa will never let me die." But that wasn't used because they want to leave it ambiguous. At the least though it left the film open-ended rather then set up for a sequel that'll never come.
What the Hell Are You?: A Fantom terrorist tries to shoot Dorian, but fails after attacking him from point blank range.
Fantom terrorist: "What are you?" Dorian: "I'm complicated."
The World Is Always Doomed: When he's first getting recruited by Sanderson Reed, who says that the British Empire is in peril, Quatermain cynically answers "You're probably too young to know, but the empire is always in some kind of peril."
World War One: The Big Bad is trying to instigate this. Even with his defeat, though, war will come. He would have just made it a much more devastating war with his weapons of mass destruction.
Young Gun: Tom Sawyer. At first glance, this makes no sense; Tom Sawyer was a twelve-year old in the pre-Civil War era, who, if anything, should be older than Quatermain. The producer used Comic Book Time to justify this by saying Tom was only 17 years old in Tom Sawyer, Detective, which was published just a few years prior to the time period of the film's setting.