Sherlock Holmes and Other Literary Action Heroes

By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

I saw Sherlock Holmes this weekend and what the New York Times calls “intermittently diverting” I would reclassify as “wildly entertaining,” but then, I realized that perhaps I just have a fondness for literary-characters-turned-action-heroes. No, it’s not for the Holmes purist; we all know that Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes wasn’t so much for physical violence, but I can’t help but agree with Guy Ritchie that if he were, that calculating mind might not be a bad asset in a brawl.

The whole idea makes me go back to The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (and I should note since I’m mentioning it fondly that I refer to the graphic novel rather than the film) where literary heroes jump off the page into proto-super-heroes. And in Sherlock Holmes we get that same kind of steampunky atmosphere in a greasy picture of Victorian London that makes it pretty visually spectacular for those of you who like that sort of thing.

Whatever geeky button this film pushes for me, I think there may be more to come. After all, Natalie Portman is going to turn Elizabeth Bennet into a zombie-slaying action heroine in the film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Some think it’s literary blasphemy, to which I say: we’re not burning books here! You can still read/enjoy/love the original – but with another Holmes beating guys up and getting caught in explosions, it’s like two for the price of one.

So what’s next in the world of literary action heroes? Lockwood as an undercover ghost hunter in Wuthering Heights? Great Expectations‘ Estella trained not just to break men’s hearts but to break their skulls? Gone with the Wind as a space opera with Scarlet as a planet-hopping black widow? The possibilities are endless!

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2 Responses to Sherlock Holmes and Other Literary Action Heroes

  1. I would agree that the Sherlock Holmes film really isn’t for everyone. I walked out of the theater thinking it was awesome, but my British grandmother said, “Sherlock Holmes wasn’t like that! I am not impressed.” To each her own. :)

    I’m excited to hear about the film adaptation of Prde and Prejudice and Zombies. I still have yet to actually read that book, but I’m tempted every time I see it in the book shop. I guess it’s because I’m really not a Jane Austen fan, and even zombies might not get me through that type of Victorian England literature. Natalie Portman could make a whole new franchise, too. I believe there is also a “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” book, for those of you who are so inclined.

  2. I would agree that the Sherlock Holmes film really isn't for everyone. I walked out of the theater thinking it was awesome, but my British grandmother said, "Sherlock Holmes wasn't like that! I am not impressed." To each her own. :)

    I'm excited to hear about the film adaptation of Prde and Prejudice and Zombies. I still have yet to actually read that book, but I'm tempted every time I see it in the book shop. I guess it's because I'm really not a Jane Austen fan, and even zombies might not get me through that type of Victorian England literature. Natalie Portman could make a whole new franchise, too. I believe there is also a "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" book, for those of you who are so inclined.