While The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones failed to prove a success both in the box office and as a faithful adaptation, there is a lot that Constantin and showrunner Ed Decter (and whichever network picks up the show) can learn from the film, both what to do and what not to do.
There’s a reason why it’s important to pay attention to history. So you’re not doomed to repeat it. Case in point for the forthcoming Mortal Instruments television show that seeks to succeed where the film failed. To make it easy on the folks in charge we’ve compiled a list of things that the movie did wrong (and that we want to see done right in the television show) and things that the movie did right (that we hope they don’t change in the show).
10 Things the Movie Did Wrong (That We Want to See Done Right in the TV Show)
The Valentine portrayed in the movie was not the Valentine we all fell in love with. Now we have a new chance to remake Valentine as that suave, suit-wearing, smooth-talking psychopath that we all fell in love with in the books. In the movie he was psychotic in an uncontrolled manner. But that’s that the Valentine we know. The Valentine we know is always in control even when it may seem like he’s not. Plus, do I even need to mention the ridiculous clothes? Or that hair?! How could we expect these Shadowhunters to fear him if we couldn’t? Hopefully we can get the chance to glimpse the real Valentine: someone who exudes charisma and wisdom.
2. Isabelle and Alec’s Relationship
If you hadn’t read the books chances were you came away from the film not even knowing Isabelle and Alec were brother and sister. It was buried by less important things and mentioned only when it was convenient making it seem like it was more of a name-drop than an actual important part of the story, which it is. You can use the whole, “There wasn’t enough time to flesh it out” excuse, but fans and myself are having none of it. Get it right this time.
I think we can all agree that Godrfrey Gao is a beautiful man and we applaud the accurate racial casting, but the film also managed to destroy his character. Look no further than the no pants thing. Magnus is a respectable character with dignity and smarts. And he was degraded for a moment of cheesy humor. Please, for the love of all that is holy, get Magnus’ character right.
One of the biggest controversies surrounding the film was the absence of Raphael. Perhaps they thought we wouldn’t miss him. They couldn’t have been more wrong. So fix it. Put him back. (Side note: Make sure he’s cast racially accurate).
5. Jace and Alec’s Relationship
While we’re thankful that it was made clear that Alec had romantic feelings for Jace, their relationship wasn’t well-portrayed on screen. The fact that they are parabatai — the first parabatai we see — was absent and one of the things that was mostly severely missed. Not only are parabatais an essential part of the Shadowhunter world, but for Jace and Alec they establish that bond which makes their friendship crucial. It’s not something that can be thrown away. Please honor that this time around.
6. The Shadowhunter World
First off you should know that the Shadowhunter world is a world that we hold dear to us and it’s one that is intricately thought out. It’s literally given to you on a silver platter (Ed Decter and writers take note). The foundation of the Shadowhunter world is that it is a culture about angels. These Shadowhunters are part angel and everything about angels was taken out of the film. It’s the aesthetic of angels that drew people to the books. You might as well just make them like CIA spies fighting evil. No, seriously for the love of Angel Raziel don’t. It would be atrocious. But you need to understand that you need to use the magic that’s there before you start adding stuff that doesn’t make any sense. We know there will be changes but we hope for changes that respect the source material.
7. The Ending
This is still sore subject with me. One of the biggest problems of the film was that Clary ended up with the Mortal Cup at the end. Huge mistake. There’s a reason that Clary was supposed to lose the Cup. Clary needs to fall before she can rise, to lose before she can win, to keep fighting even when hope seems lost. It’s a part of her journey to becoming the hero of our story. And going back to Valentine, we need a villain that will be a real threat. He needs to be able to do things that strike fear into the hearts of the protagonists and the audience. This may be a fantasy to us, but the stakes need to feel real to both the characters and us.
8. The Lightwood Family Being Absent
Fans are still angry about this, to be honest. While the Lightwood parents and Alec and Isabelle’s brother Max weren’t in the first book they were still mentioned. There was no mention of them at all in the movie. While all mention of them was omitted due to the characters being aged up to where you don’t have parents, it still took away all context from the characters. Jace isn’t Jace without his complicated relationship with the Lightwoods. Plus, how do Jace, Alec and Isabelle even know each other? How do we know who a character is if we don’t know who they love?
9. Humorous Jace
The first thing you should know about The Mortal Instruments is that they are famously funny. They are quoted everywhere and dialogue in the film was serviceable at best. This story needs humor. Bring back the humor please. Movie Jace lacked the humor that made him the character we all love. He was much too serious. Don’t get me wrong, he has his moments, but Jace isn’t serious. He’s sarcastic – not mean and ugly but ironic, funny and smart. Without that, the romance between Jace and Clary falls flat and dead.
10. Why Did Valentine Want the Mortal Cup?
If I hadn’t read the books I still wouldn’t know the answer to this question. In the movie we never found out what made the Mortal Cup such a big deal, what it did and why anyone should care if he had it. We never even found out why Hodge betrayed the group. Even pirate Valentine found it hilarious as he made it clear he had nothing to offer Hodge. Did Valentine and Hodge even know why they were doing what they were doing? Can we flesh their characters out and give them some discernible motive? Need some help? Turn to the books. You can use them to help you, ya know?
7 Things the Movie Did Right (That We Hope They Don’t Change)
1. The Story Was About Clary
When push comes to shove this is a story about Clary Fray. She’s our protagonist and the story revolves around her. We need to see this world through her eyes and her journey. The movie remained focused on that. We don’t want to lose that because she is the most important character in this story. Side Note: Here’s to hoping the rumor about Simon already having a girlfriend is false because that would take so much away from Clary.
2. The Institute
The Institute from the film was everything we could’ve asked for. When you see that shot of the big, gorgeous church that the Lightwoods and family call home — and Shadowhunters seek refuge to — you are instantly transported into the books and into this world were half angels do exist. For a television show it would be easy to keep the establishing shot of a church and then add stone interiors full of angel and religious iconography. We really hope they do.
3. Clary and Simon’s Relationship Was Important
Clary and Simon’s friendship is an integral part to the story and to Clary’s character. They rely on each other; they love each other; they’re family. The scene that fans love most with them is when Clary runs into Simon’s arms or when Simon told her that he loves her. That connection between them is so important. Please don’t lose that.
4. The Casting
In Hollywood it’s easy to whitewash projects, in fact it happens all too often. But one of the important things that the film did was maintain racial accuracy with Magnus. With other diverse characters like Maia and Raphael also a part of the story we’re hoping they maintain that accuracy. There were some truly fantastic actors that played Clary, Simon and Jocelyn. We’re hoping that the television show delivers an awesome cast that can bring all of these characters to life in a different medium than previously seen in the movie.
5. The Design of the Magical Objects
The prop department knew what they were doing. Not only are the magical objects important themselves but so is their design. The steles looked just like we’d imagined steles looking, which was not like wands or pens. The Mortal Cup looked like we’d envisioned it. Here’s to hoping we get to see more cool stuff like that!
6. Alec’s Sexuality
The most important thing to fans is that the characters remain true to themselves. One of the things that had us worried heading into the movie was whether they’d maintain Alec’s sexuality. And they did. It was such an important thing to acknowledge that he was gay but also to not define him by that and only that. The film and Kevin Zegers did an amazing job with that. The TV show really needs to learn from this and execute it the same.
7. New York City
I think we can all agree that if The Mortal Instruments were to happen anywhere but New York City that it just wouldn’t be The Mortal Instruments. New York City is in itself a character and an important one at that. If you take it away then everything changes, and the fandom will get pissed. I don’t know why they’d change the location of the series, but in Hollywood you never know what they’ll change. I don’t want to believe that they’ll move the show from NYC, but if they do they’ll have to deal with the wrath of the entire fandom.
There’s a lot to be learned from the movie — both good and bad. We hope that the television show is able to take both the good and the bad and bring us a faithful adaptation that will satisfy fans.