Movies & TV

9 Movies You Didn't Know Were Actually Adaptations

Some came from trading cards?!

Movie adaptations are nothing new. Shakespeare plays have been appearing in cinemas for as long as there have been cinemas, studios gather like vultures around summer bestsellers like Gone Girl, and don't even get us started on Nicholas Sparks.

But other movies have become iconic without you ever realizing they were based on a different source material.

1| Die Hard

Based on: Novel (Nothing Lasts Forever)

Die Hard is based on Roderick Thorp's 1979 novel, which was actually a sequel to The Detective, which was adapted into a Frank Sinatra-starring film in 1968. (Which meant the studio was contractually obliged to offer Ol' Blue Eyes the role in Die Hard before Willis.)

Bruce Willis's movie tweaked the original story, changing the protagonist's name from Joseph Leland to John McClane, making the story a bit less dark and divorcing it from the first story so that it plays like a standalone rather than a follow-up to The Detective–sparing Bruce from having to pretend that he was Frank.

2| Casablanca

Based on: Play (Everybody Comes to Rick's)

The inspiration for one of the most beloved movies of all time has a pretty amazing story all of its own. The play's co-writer Murray Burnett spent his 1938 holiday in Austria working with his wife to smuggle Jews out of Austria. The characters in Everybody Comes to Rick's were based on people they met later in their travels around the Mediterranean.

3| Oldboy

Based on: Manga (Old Boy)

Park Chan-wook's famously nasty thriller is based on a Japanese comic of (almost) the same name. It takes the original's idea of a man locked away for years by a mysterious villain without having a clue why.


There are differences, however. The movie added the incest and tongue removal that–depending on your tastes–were the best or most unforgivably upsetting parts of the adaptation.

4| Road to Perdition

Based on: Comic

Superhero adaptations are part of the landscape these days, but comics come in all shapes and sizes, and so do the movies they're based on. Take Sam Mendes's crime drama, which stars Tom Hanks and the kid who would grow up to become Supergirl's scorchingly hot Superman.

The tale of a mob enforcer and his son during the Great Depression is actually a double adaptation, as the comic was inspired by the legendary samurai manga Lone Wolf and Cub.

5| Psycho

Based on: Novel

Alfred Hitchcock saw the potential in Robert Bloch's 1959 novel, snatching up the rights and releasing his legendary and famously controversial movie adaptation the next year.

The novel delves much deeper into the messed-up relationship between Norman and Mother, with an added dash of philosophy and the occult. Despite the similarities to the Ed Gein murder case, Bloch actually came up with the idea on his own, although he did add an allusion to Gein after learning about the killings.

6| It's a Wonderful Life

Based on: Short story (The Greatest Gift)

Philip Van Doren Stern's short story was the inspiration for the Frank Capra classic, although many of the situations and characters were altered in the movie.

Capra gets credit for adding the whole lead up to the hero's suicide attempt (i.e. the majority of the film), turning a 48-page tale into a (very long-seeming) 130 minutes.

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7| The Addams Family

Based on: Comic strip

Sure, the movie was based on the '60s show about a "kooky, mysterious and spooky" family that doesn't quite fit the all-American ideal (apart from the fabulous wealth and huge house, that is).

Oddly, all that inspiration came from a series of one-panel comics (many of which were published in The New Yorker), although creator Charles Addams did an impressive job of building a whole world out of brief glimpses.

8| Men in Black

Based on: Comic

Someone saw something in the very short-lived, early '90s comic Men in Black, although by the time the third film limped in, most of us were probably wishing they hadn't.

Unlike the film, the comic book Men in Black are responsible for covering up all supernatural phenomena–including ghosts, demons and mutants–because writer Lowell Cunningham "thought UFOs every issue might get boring after a while."

9| Mars Attacks!

Based on: Trading cards

Trading cards from the 1960s aren't likely to be your first stop on the road to movie inspiration, but screenwriter Jonathan Gems thought that the story of an invasion by aliens with a taste for horrible experiments was right up Tim Burton's street.

The film sticks surprisingly closely to the vivid '60s vision of cattle mutilations, murdered dogs and horny Martians.

From: Digital Spy

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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