What Is 'Polar' Based On? The New Netflix Movie Has A Very 21st Century Origin Story
Even though Netflix is still riding the wave of popularity from its hit original film Bird Box, the site isn't resting on its laurels. Netflix will soon debut another high-profile original film called Polar that will no doubt inspire a sizable fanbase of its own. The film stars Mads Mikkelsen as a retired expert hitman who gets dragged back into his old lifestyle after his former employer targets him for assassination. The film is certainly thrilling and action-packed, which makes perfect sense given what the movie Polar is based on.
Like seemingly half of Hollywood films these days, Polar is based on a comic book. However, if you're hoping to head down to your local comic book store to pick up the latest issue of Polar from the likes of Marvel or DC, you're going to come back empty-handed. Unlike most comic books that inspire movies, Polar is actually a web-based comic. The comic is produced by Spanish artist Victor Santos, and it debuted in 2012. Here is how Santos describes just what the comic is on its website:
"Polar is an online action comic. My approach is advancing at my own pace, but with a minimum rhythm of two weekly updatings (sic), Mondays and Thursdays. The story uses a minimalistic and direct style inspired by movies like Le Samurai (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967), Tokyo Drifter (Seijun Suzuki, 1965), [and] Point Blank (John Boorman, 1967); and novels like The Killer Inside Me (Jim Thompson, 1952) [and] The Eiger Sanction (Trevanian, 1979). Polar is also a tribute to artists like Jim Steranko, Jose Muñoz, Alberto Breccia, Alex Toth and Frank Miller."
Clearly, judging by Santos' own account, Polar has a lot of influences that he isn't afraid to share. The story was originally published in three "seasons," and Santos cites the influence of various other films — like the works of Sergio Leone and John Woo — in inspiring him to complete his later seasons. The original web comic, which is free of dialogue, was later adapted into a series of hardcover graphic novels — with dialogue added — by Dark Horse Comics that you might actually find at your local comic book store.
The film version is technically adapted from the first of these dialogued-up graphic novels from Dark Horse, Polar: Came From the Cold, which adapts the first "season" of Santos' webcomic. The progression from webcomic to film was remarkably fast, as the webcomic first started being published in Jan 2012. It was adapted into the graphic novel Polar: Came From the Cold in Nov 2013, and the announcement of a film adaptation of said graphic novel followed just 11 months later, according to Variety. In other words, in less than three years, Santos saw his story make the transition from webcomic to graphic novel to a movie adaptation, which is quite the remarkable feat.
Given how quickly Polar rose from being a little-known webcomic to having a big budget film made about it shows the quality of its story. And since the film is based on the first of four lengthy storylines from Polar comics, the potential for sequels will likely keep fans from feeling like they've been left out in the cold.