Still not talking about Destiny, by the way. Not sure at Marvel who thought “Irene Adler” was a good name to give to a mutant who could see the future. Anyway, I have some more thoughts on Irene Adler Syndrome and when a bad adaptation is not, in fact, Irene Adler Syndrome.
For a female character to be a victim of this syndrome, she must be in an adaptation that is by and large done in good faith for all other characters/situations except for female characters. Now, I will grant you in too many adaptations, Dr. Watson isn’t adapted particularly well and my first memory of seeing the character on television was a middle-aged obese gentleman with a white, bushy mustache. I have since learned better, and for the many flaws in the recent “Sherlock Holmes” movies, the portrayal of Dr. Watson was not one of them. But Dr. Watson doesn’t fall victim to this syndrome because I have never seen his character seriously mangled (as in, not Sherlock’s partner, or not a doctor, or something serious like that; not a man of action, that bothers me yes, but it’s not a deal-breaker [at least to me]).
So what’s a good example of a female character that’s been badly adapted but not in a case of Irene Adler Syndrome? Katara from The Last Airbender. That movie failed on pretty much every level so hard that it put a hole in my soul. The original series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, was amazing. The animation was gorgeous, the story complex, the world rich, and the characters complex. Katara was the heart of the team who was courageous and compassionate and occasionally frightening. In the movie, she was kind of whiny and I can’t recall anything she really did. But in the show, Sokka was courageous and funny, and in the movie, he was a dour buzzkill who also didn’t really do anything. Aang was free-spirited in the show, and in the movie he was a pouty little kid. Zuko was an angry teenager with both internal and external battle scars in the show, and in the movie he was just kind of sad. Everyone and everything pretty much sucked. Everything wrong with this movie is essentially the movie. I’m so grateful the movie did so badly to prevent any kind of sequel. I would hate to see what was done to all the characters introduced in Book 2.
And this is opposed to A Series of Unfortunate Events. It wasn’t a very good movie either, but the general adaptation wasn’t too terrible for taking three separate stories and trying to make one coherent movie. However, having read the three books the movie was based on, Violet was sadly downgraded. In the books, Violet is basically MacGuyver. For those who don’t know who that is, get NetFlix and watch it. Anyway, Violet can take a bunch of junk and make something spectacularly useful out of it. Her brother, Klaus, reads a lot. He doesn’t make things. He knows things. Her sister, Sunny, is a baby who apparently has the power “bite” on her character sheet. As a baby, Sunny does not do anything unusual except bite things babies shouldn’t bite. Violet is the girl of action in these stories. Klaus’s encyclopedic knowledge is useful, of course, and so are Sunny’s freaky-strong animal teeth, but Violet is the leader. She was the one who saved herself from marrying the horrible Count Olaf by cleverly exploiting a loophole Klaus had told her about. But in the movie? Klaus saved the day while Violet passively stood by hoping her brother could work a miracle. Blargh.
Anyway, there’s a brief compare and contrast for Irene Adler Syndrome versus a generally bad on all levels adaptation.