I've been watching Danger: Diabolik (1968) and when I read the Wikipedia article I realise it's actually an adaptation of a comic book character called Diabolik which made it one of the earliest comic adaptation I had heard of.

After more research I found this article which claimed the oldest was Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941), however there are some I found which are even older, like Flash Gordon (1936).

Can anyone provide an authoritative answer as to what the first feature-length (more than 40 minutes) film adaptation of a comic was?

  • 2
    I think this will depend on your definition of "comic". It's my understanding that Flash Gordon was initially a newspaper comic strip, adapted to serial films, and not a full-fledged comic book until later.
    – JoshDM
    Jul 29, 2014 at 20:03
  • @JoshDM Good point, I hadn't thought of that distinction. I just mean the most liberal definition of "panels of images and text". Jul 29, 2014 at 20:06
  • Do you also accept animated cartoons?
    – knut
    Jul 29, 2014 at 20:09
  • @knut Yep, as long as it's feature length (more than 40 minutes). Jul 29, 2014 at 20:10
  • Tarzan, based on pulp fiction books, first appeared on film in 1918 and was incredibly popular during the silent era, but I don't think it was adapted to comic books until much later. Aug 6, 2014 at 6:29

3 Answers 3


As far as I can make out, the first feature length film based off a comic strip was Little Annie Rooney (1925) starring Mary Pickford.

enter image description here

There were certainly other shorts made before then, going back as far as 1898, but you specified over 40 mins in length.

  • 3
    The Little Annie Rooney comic strip was based on the Pickford film, not the other way around. Apr 28, 2019 at 20:49
  • @Bavisdlair40, right. The film was 1925, the comic two years later in 1927. Nov 22, 2019 at 13:57
  • downvoting since this should not be accepted answer, as it's already said, the movie is not based on comics.
    – shabunc
    Sep 18, 2020 at 0:00

It is hard to say definitively, mostly because (a) much of the early film record is lost and/or incomplete and (b) because there doesn't appear to be any exhaustive directory chronicling the relative order that comic-based films were released.

However, the earliest known feature film I could find based on a comic (not vice versa) is a 1926 live-action silent film called 'Ella Cinders', by American director Alfred Green.

enter image description here

Starring Colleen Moore, its 75 minutes long, and the comic (of the same name) the film is adapted from launched in 1925, itself being heavily inspired by Cinderella. It is among the few comic-based films inducted into the (US) National Film Registry.


The Adventures of Captain Marvel” was the first motion picture of a comic book superhero. It was a serial released by Republic Pictures in 1941.

But the Oldest motion picture to be sourced from comics "The Katzenjammer Kids" in 1898.

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