Sequels. Prequels. Reboots. Adaptations. Sequels to reboots of adaptations. Sometimes it can feel like Hollywood has run out of ideas.
And yet! Some of the most exciting projects coming to screens big and small in 2018 are inspired by novels, comic books, and manga. Marvel's Black Panther film, for example, will be at least partially inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates' groundbreaking comic book series. And Ava Duvernay's A Wrinkle in Time will adapt one of the greatest children's novels of all time. That film, much like Annihilation, Alex Garland's take on Jeff VanderMeer's novel, will launch a film franchise if it does well enough at the box office.
The best way to prepare for this wave of adaptions hits theaters and televisions is to hit the original works. Here are the eight you have to read heading into the new year.
Amazon series premieres January 12
Amazon's Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, inspired by Dick’s short sci-fi stories, looks trippy and beautiful. The stand-alone episodes will adapt elements from Dick's works, which means reading the stories and watching the show won't be identical experiences.
Film opens February 16
Marvel’s Black Panther will pull from storylines throughout the character's decades-old canon. But Ryan Coogler’s version of the Wakandan superhero will likely pull from the latest, and most high-profile comic, written about the character. Ta-Nehisi Coates reimagined the Afrofuturistic kingdom in 2016, bringing academia into the comic book space, and things at Marvel will never be the same.
Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer
Film opens February 23
Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation, the first book in the Southern Reach trilogy, is a white-knuckle sci-fi thriller that follows four female scientists as they explore a hostile, bizarre environment. The film version stars Natalie Portman and Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez.
Film opens March 9
Ava Duvernay’s Disney film will probably have a huge impact on pop culture in 2018—her race-blind casting alone has already thrilled audiences. But L’Engle’s prose should also be enjoyed and savored on its own. After all, it’s one of the greatest YA novels ever written.
Film premieres March 30
Depending who you ask, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is either a clever sci-fi ode to the ‘80s or it’s a disingenuous meta novel overstuffed with too many references to old video games and toys. A good way to determine whether you’re in the right demographic for Steven Spielberg's adaptation is to try out the book that divided geeks everywhere.
HBO series coming summer 2018
The last time Hollywood adapted a Gillian Flynn novel, Gone Girl became a phenomenon. Its commentary on feminism and marriage rippled out into pop culture and inspired countless knock-offs. Next summer, HBO will adapt Flynn's Sharp Objects, a truly disturbing novel that focuses on an abusive mother-daughter relationship. And trust us on this one: you owe yourself the plot twist as the author wrote it. So read up.
Film opens July 20
After the disappointing Ghost in the Shell movie, manga fans are understandably nervous for James Cameron to adapt another beloved sci-fi comic from Japan. But Alita is a great manga series, no matter what her first film looks like, so if Cameron drops the ball we can all still hide inside Yukito Kishiro’s art.
Film opens August 17
In 2018, Hollywood will finally experience a reckoning after whitewashing characters of Asian descent in hundreds of films. The hotly-anticipated film version of Kwan’s rollicking novel will star Fresh Off the Boat’s Constance Wu, and it’s likely to dominate cultural conversations next summer. Study up!
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