Is ‘The Old Guard’ movie faithful to source graphic novel?

Scenes from 'The Old Guard' (Photo from Netflix)

The 50-year-old American comic book writer Greg Rucka thinks adapting graphic novel to film could be a "chance" to "fix" things that maybe didn't work in the source material. 

Still, moving from one medium to another may proved to be tricky.

"One of the things that you get when you are moving from one medium to another is that there are different demands for each medium,” he told Bulletin Entertainment and select members of Philippine media in a video call interview.  “A comic book just isn't a movie. And so when you're making a movie out of a comic book, you are obligated, you must try to respect the medium and maintain the heart of the source material in the new form. That to me is always the biggest challenge.”

For the adaptation to be called successful, it should connect to the audience the way the comic book did despite that they aren’t identical, Greg added.

The subject was brought up because his comic book "The Old Guard" (illustrated by Leandro Fernandez) has been made into film. Greg also wrote the screenplay, saying that however it turned out, he made sure Joe (played by Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky's (Luca Marinelli) relationship remained as faithful as it is to the story in the novel. 

"I didn't want to see that change," he related. "I actually didn't want to change any of the relationships between the core four. That, to me, mattered enormously."

Indeed, he wanted the "heart" of the story intact, as well as the "humor."

"I wanted there to be moments when people laugh because I knew there would be moments where we made them cry."  

"The Old Guard" centers on a group of mercenaries who have the mysterious inability to die. Charlize Theron plays Andy or Andromache the Scythian — a warrior born in an age that predates almost all historical records whose experience in combat rivals no other.

Together with Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe, Nicky, and the newest immortal, Nile, Andy uses her gift to protect mankind — leading
the team on a covert, darkly altruistic path through the ages, balancing harm with good and taking a life when necessary in order to save thousands of others. But their secret is exposed when an operation brought to them by an ex-CIA operative (Chiwetel Ejiofor) backfires, threatening their existence.

"I'm very proud of the comic we created,” Greg said. “And I think the movie does more than give it justice, and I mean that sincerely. I think the movie is something that is very much its own thing and it is a really wonderful work.”

He added: “I think it is a genuinely terrific movie. It is everything that our comic was in terms of the fun and the action and the adventure. And I feel that our comic had a real heart but I feel that the movie is profoundly moving in many ways. So I am very, very proud of it. I really am.”

What’s the message here, we asked.

"We don't always know the ramifications of the choices we make. But the choice to do good---to try to help others---pays dividends in ways that we may never ever see," he said. "And that is its own reason for doing it. We don't do it, knowing what the result is going to be. We need to live the best we can, even not knowing that."

(From left) Marwan Kenzari as Joe, Matthias Schoenaerts as Booker, Charlize Theron as Andy, Luca Marinelli as Nicky, Kiki Layne as Nile (Photo Credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX)

The ladies

In a separate group interview, Charlize and KiKi talked about working on the project. 

Charlize admitted that despite having played a lot of badass women previously, she likes “The Old Guard” for being sci-fi that allows the characters to show “intimate emotions.” 

"There was something grounded in the characters, not just Andy but all of the characters. I really, really loved the relationship between Andy and Nile. I felt like there was a real excitement for me and getting a chance to work with KiKi, an actress who just absolutely blew me away,” she said.

KiKi is thankful she had great source material in the graphic novel. 

"Greg created such a wonderful world and then translated a lot of that into the screenplay,” she said.

“But you know, something very different for me was the physical demands of this. So a lot of training -- we started training months in advance -- so that's weapons tactical military training -- since I was playing a marine -- so boxing, martial arts, all of that."

How was it working with Charlize, we asked. KiKi returned the compliment.

"What was really wonderful is that there was a lot in the relationship between Andy and Nile that mirrored the relationship between myself and Charlize,” she said. “Charlize has been instrumental in opening doors for women in this genre, just showing how much we can lead and kick ass in this genre.”

KiKi and Charlize talked about the injuries they suffered while doing the project.

"Just your standard bumps and bruises---but that's just part of the job,” KiKi said. “It's just part of being committed to the character, and being committed to telling the story the right way."

Charlize is used to it.

"It kind of comes with the territory, you know. You're gonna get hurt and I have some pretty impressive selfies of bruises that I nursed back to health."

She tore some of her ligaments off the bone of her thumb about three weeks before they wrap the film. At the time, they still have two big action sequences to do, one of which involving horse work. 

"So I did all of the horse work that we have in the film with one thumb,” she said. “Turns out you only need one."  

"The Old Guard" premieres July 10 on Netflix.