Movies that flip their source material on its head

My friend and colleague Steven D. Greydanus tweeted the other day that the new Lone Ranger movie is not just one of those films that doesn’t “get” its source material but, rather, it is made by “people who do understand the source material—and dislike it.” He has since noted that this point is also made by New York Times critic A.O. Scott, who wrote that the film is “an ambitious movie disguised as a popcorn throwaway, nothing less than an attempt to revise, reinvigorate and make fun of not just its source but also nearly every other western ever made.”

This got me wondering about other films that have knowingly inverted their source material, rather than adapted it, per se — i.e., films that have explicitly challenged the themes of their source material. Two examples came to mind immediately.

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Flashback: My interview with Armie Hammer

He first caught the eye of most moviegoers by playing the Winklevoss twins — both of them! — in The Social Network (2010). He has since delivered impressive supporting performances in J. Edgar (2011) and Mirror Mirror (2012). And now he’s going to play one of the most iconic characters of all time in The Lone Ranger, which opens this week.

But before all that, Armie Hammer played Billy Graham in the independent biopic Billy: The Early Years (2008). I interviewed him shortly before the release of that film, and, to mark the release of his newest, biggest film to date, I have re-posted that interview here.

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