Source Material vs. Adaptation: Is the Book Always Better than the Movie?


Staff Writer: Kylise Carino

You’re about to go see a movie, but your friend says, “Don’t waste your time, that movie sucks, the book is so much better” why is that? Is the original material always better than the adaptation? Well your about to find out.


A picture showing a stack of books and a film reel and comparing the two. Picture courtesy of:

For a recent example let’s look at the movie Avengers: Infinity War. The movie got positive reception and in fact the movie was so well liked, some even claim that some aspects of the movie were done better than in the comics.


An article from claims that the concept of the infinity stones was done better in the movies than the comics. They state, “The introduction of the majority of the Infinity Stones before Infinity War helps immensely with the pacing of Marvel’s latest film. Thanos’ collection of the stones in comics preceded The Infinity Gauntlet (1991) in the storyline Thanos Quest (1990), in which none of the stones was held by characters central to that latter storyline” So in this case, the movie is better than the original source material, but that isn’t always the case.

Most of the time the reason the original source material is better than the adaptation, is because the adaptation often leaves out a lot of the original material. For instance, a freshman at Woodstock High School who wishes to stay anonymous had this to say, “When it comes down to anime vs. manga usually when people read the manga and then watch the anime they feel dissatisfied because a lot of times the anime tends to leave out scenes from the manga that were usually funny or were a well-liked scene, so when the anime takes it out readers of the original manga tend to be disappointed.” That seems to be one of the biggest reasons when comes to source material vs. the adaptation.


Picture of the Naruto anime and manga comparing differences between the two. Picture courtesy of:

Sometimes leaving out a scene or two from the source material can be beneficial, like in the cases of Avengers: Infinity War, where they left out a bunch of material from the comics, so they could pace it reasonably for a movie. Sometimes leaving out scenes from the original source material is all you can do if you’re trying to make a movie a reasonable length. However, this brings a question up, if an adaptation is poor at adapting the source material can it still be a great work by itself.    People might complain about how a medium is poorly adapting the source material, but sometimes a work can be great on its own even if it has poorly represented the source material.


Picture courtesy of: This picture shows an iceberg that is larger at the bottom than at the top, showing depth.

When adapting a story from book to movie to make the adaptation more interesting they use techniques that are only useable in that medium. For instance, when reading a book, you can picture the story in your mind, but with a movie it’s all there for you, what the character looks like, what the world looks like, etc. People say that’s one of the reasons books are better than movies because if forces you to use your imagination, rather than then just watching a movie and already knowing what everything looks like.

Woodstock High School freshman Hannah Rhodes had this to say, “I think the book is usually better because the book gets deeper into things and you can really see inside the narrator’s mind and what they’re thinking (depending on what type of story you’re reading). Plus, if you read the book first you can imagine what the characters look like and then compare them to the actual thing in the movie.” this reinforces what I was saying in the last paragraph and how books tend to force your imagination.


Picture of a person holding a book supposedly reading it, but is probably watching the movie instead. Picture courtesy of:

One of the biggest reasons the source material is better than the adaptation is when people go see the adaptation and the adaptation isn’t what they imagined it would look like when they read the source material. A ninth grade student from Woodstock High School named Logan Tank stated, “When people read the source material they imagine what is happening in their head, so when the movie comes out it might not be what they were expecting which leads to disappointment in the adaptation.”

Another big reason for a bad adaptation is if the adaptation is poorly written. While a movie has more visual power than a book, it’s limited in terms of having to tell a story primarily through dialogue. Making that transition from words to visual representation, plus dialogue is not as simple as it seems, particularly when you’re dealing with a book that has a lot of inner dialogue, or that gives the reader insight into a character’s mind, so it can be hard dealing with those things while also having a lack luster script.

So, what we learned is while most of the time the source material surpasses the adaptation, the original source material isn’t always better than the adaptation, and in some cases the adaptation can succeed the original material.



  1. Bella Budd says:

    This article is really amazing and this article writer is really awesome

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