While Holly re-read the book Ender’s Game before seeing the movie, I took the opportunity to read the short comic series they did of the story a few years back; I found it on the ComiXology App. It was a fast and fun read, so first and foremost, I wanted to do a review of the comic for you.
But then, with seeing the movie, consider this also a LitFlix of the Ender’s Game comic as compared to the movie. Reviews are coming back very mixed for this film, but the graphic novel is new enough I thought it might provide a different perspective, so I will share that with you.
You can read Holly’s review here. But for now, my thoughts on Ender’s Game: Battle School and Command School. Spoilers to come for the Ender’s Game story in all sorts of media!
Battle School and Command School – A Review
I had not read Ender’s Game for several years, so the exact contents of the book are still a bit hazy. However, from what I remembered, and from reading it, I feel it did a very faithful job of telling the story.
It is broken into two five-comic halves, the first focusing on the time that Ender is following orders – his time at the Battle School. Aptly named as such, they move through introducing us to the world, the characters, the stakes… And the Game. Both the battle game and the mind game. Great visuals for both of these, they really brought my thoughts of the story to life.
The second five are the Command School, both Ender’s time commanding at the Battle School, and his time then at the Command School itself. In this headlong rush to the end, we get to see the brilliance of Ender, the different plans he uses to win every battle. We get to see that he is the best.
The focus is on Ender, and there are some parts left out, maybe especially some of the parts leading down the path to the sequels. For instance, we don’t see Peter and Valentine’s dealing with politics on a Earth. Nor do we see the lead-in to the idea of the Speaker for the Dead. So these comic series largely stand alone.
So from what I remember, this comic is a great recap of the story. If you’re looking for a new way to look at this story, I definitely recommend the comic. Also, if you are tying to get a friend to read it, and they are into graphic novels – definitely send them this way. Because I definitely think that this would be a great way to get someone into the world of Ender’s Game.
My Expectations for the Ender’s Game Movie
The graphic novel made me very hopeful for a movie that has spent decades in production hell. It is a solid, graphical retelling of the plot. Which really, is also what a movie is, so I figured this might have been a tie-in product. I am seeing a 2010 publication date, so that could have been well in line with a timeline on the current movie.
And there are things that made me think there were connections, to be sure. For instance, I knew the movie had switched to using the term Formics for the Buggers – something the comic did as well. And the comic worked in the scenes of Graff talking and defending the plan, something that they used heavily as the trailers for the film. So good indicators.
And the graphic novel couldn’t tell all of the story – but it had to tell enough, to be faithful to the source, to tell a complete story, and to provide the meaning behind it all. I feel like these comics accomplish that. Of course, that is also the point of a movie based on a book, right? Be faithful to the source, tell enough story, and keep the essence – the purpose behind it. So how’d the movie do?
Ender’s Game – The Comic LitFlix
Just to reference it again, Holly’s review shows a lot of the places the movie does things well, and where it falls short on the plot. I don’t want to rehash these points, but instead consider the graphic novel and see if maybe they got closer in that regard.
And, after all, I had such hopes. I felt it was possible to reasonably cut down the plot, to visually represent the story, and that the graphic novel both showed the possibility and showed the way.
So how different could they be?
The answer is, they could be so very different. The movie watched as though they had read the same book, considered all the scenes, and chose the very ones the graphic novel chose to cut. Obviously some of the same essential scenes made it, but in a different way – different characters doing different things.
For instance, they chose to include Valentine, to tell us she’s important to Ender, to tell us she’s smart. Ender complains about not getting mail from her in the film, after all. But in brief, elegant scenes, the graphic novel gives us Valentine – smart enough to know she is being used, but willing to do things anyway to help Ender. Like write him a letter he finally got, at Colonel Graff’s instruction. Leading to this scene:
Her letter works, and it is a great scene showing Graff’s manipulation, Ender’s and Valentine’s relationship, and, while I felt like they set this scene up in the movie with Ender asking about getting mail, they never delivered.
So to speak.
Overall, I don’t want to hash out every scene or rehash what Holly wrote. Instead, I just wish the graphic novel had been consulted. It shows me that this is a project that can be done, that thus us a story that can meld ideas and visuals. That we can see that Ender is smart, that he has these people in his life, and that this is the world he is fighting to save.
If you’re on the fence about this movie, read the graphic novel. If you are debating seeing the movie and made it this far, I might even say read the graphic novel instead. And then, let me know what you think in the comments below!