Netflix's 'The Old Guard' Is Loyal to the Original Comics—With One Big Difference

Gabrielle Bruney
Photo credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX
Photo credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX

From Esquire

Photo credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX
Photo credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX

The Old Guard is one of Netflix's best original movies this year. The film, helmed by Love & Basketball director Gina Prince-Bythewood, tells the story of a band of immortal warriors lead by Charlize Theron's Andy, who face off against an evil pharma exec while still showing the ropes to their newest member, a U.S. Marine named Nile.

But The Old Guard isn't just a great movie—it's based on a great comic book series. If you're a fan of the movie, the comics, which feature fantastic writing and enthralling art, are very worthy of a read. Here's what you should know.

Who created The Old Guard comics?

The comics are written by Greg Rucka and feature art by Leandro Fernández. Rucka is an Eisner Award-winning comic writer, who's also penned Batman, Wonder Woman, and Spider-Man stories for Marvel and DC.

Rucka and Fernández released their first Old Guard comics to critical acclaim in 2017. In an afterwords to the first release in the series' second run, Rucka described his inspiration for the story. "I'd had, for years, this woman living in my head without paying rent, this proto-Amazonian warrior who had walked for millennia without dying for some reason." That woman would become Andy.

Photo credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX
Photo credit: AIMEE SPINKS/NETFLIX

Later, Rucka realized that creating the story of a deeply world-weary immortal was partly a reaction to his father's death. "It was me trying to articulate the argument, or to somehow reconcile, the necessity of death," he wrote. "It is an attempt to understand, on some level, the fact that all things must pass."

What are the differences between the comics and the movie?

Rucka wrote the movie's screenplay, so it's not surprising that the film is pretty loyal to its source material. The writer even stipulated in his contract that any adaptation had to include Joe's declaration of love for Nicky—and it became the first gay romantic scene ever featured in a mainstream superhero movie.

By far the biggest change is that in the movie Andy is revealed to have lost her immortality, finally leaving her vulnerable to aging and death. In the comics, Andy is still immortal, as far as we know. "The one concern that we had in developing it, was, 'Is there enough jeopardy and stakes?'" Prince-Bythewood told Esquire. "They can die, and they never know when they're going to, but adding that extra layer gave us that jeopardy for her character."

Other changes don't have quite as major implications for the story's plot. Quynh, Andy's old partner who returns at the end of the movie after spending centuries at the bottom of the ocean, was originally called Noriko in the comics. (The character may have exchanged her Japanese name for a Vietnamese one because she's played by Vietnamese actor Van Veronica Ngo.) Nile gets a more fleshed-out backstory, and former CIA agent Copley, who's a white and presumably American character in the comics, is played by Black British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The story's timeline is also tweaked. Copley's discovery that, unbeknownst to them, the Old Guard has been saving the lives of people who would later prove key to human progress, doesn't occur in the comic's original run, which served as the basis for the film. Instead, it's revealed in the second Old Guard story arc, which finds the team facing off against Noriko. Timeline scrambles like this—plus the fact that both the movie and the comic are written by the same guy—suggest that though book Andy still is still an immortal, we might see her lose her invulnerability in future comics.

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