With the lucrative and high-profile adaptations of Marvel and DC comics being near-ubiquitous, it’s sometimes easy to forget that comic book movies exist that came from works not published by the Big Two. In fact, one of the best of these, V For Vendetta, will be available to stream on Netflix from June 1st.
The film was released in 2006, during that odd period after the trend in comic book movies was well underway but before the rise of the MCU changed the game forever. Adapted by the Wachowskis from the graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, the story takes place in a near-future UK ruled by a totalitarian regime that turned the island nation into a fear state combining the very worst of Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. Battling this is V, a masked vigilante modeling his appearance on infamous anarchist Guy Fawkes, who in 1605 was a key member of a group of revolutionaries who attempted to assassinate King James VI by blowing up the Houses of Parliament.
While fighting the ruthless secret police, V stages the theatrical destruction of London landmarks to demonstrate that the control of the Party is not absolute, also attempting to inspire the downtrodden populace to rise up against its rule. The main crux of the plot involves him saving Evey, a young employee of the state-run TV network, from being assaulted by sadistic officers, eventually training her as a protégée while he hunts and assassinates various prominent and high-ranking members of the broken society as a determined police officer investigates his origins.
The film was a modest success upon its release, with some issues working against it including the historical significance of the revolutionary themes and the inspiration of the rise of Thatcher’s Britain both being largely unknown outwith the UK, and some disagreement over its ideological battle being liberalism versus extreme neoconservativism rather than the comic’s more morally ambiguous war of anarchy against fascism.
For the pedants among you, because I know you’re itching to comment this, yes, V For Vendetta was published in the US by Vertigo, which technically makes it a DC comic. However, it originated in serialized form in the pages of British anthology comic Warrior, only later being picked up by the specialized imprint.
In any case, V For Vendetta often goes unremarked upon in the recent development of the explosion of comic book movies, but with the newfound availability that its inclusion in Netflix’s library will bring, more viewers will be able to discover it for themselves and decide whether or not that’s justified.