Well, comic-book creators CAN do whatever the hell they want, inasmuch as they can always write "alternate universe" stories in which, say, Superman is raised in Soviet Russia rather than Kansas. (Or, for that matter, they can invent the Justice League as a substitute for the Justice Society, and then try to explain somewhere down the road that BOTH of these entities actually existed, albeit in separate dimensions.) And if filmmakers want to base their works on those alternate universes rather than the original universes (e.g., the new Green Lantern movie is based on Hal Jordan -- and apparently a very recent version of Hal Jordan, at that -- and not on Alan Scott), then that is certainly their prerogative. Where the "canon" is ambiguous, filmmakers have to take sides.
What I mean is that comic-book creators are subject to the same fundamental narrative alternatives as moviemakers. Anyone
can tell a story about a black character called Peter Parker who becomes Spider-Man, but whoever does this, it's a story about a fundamentally different character.
So I don't think that, say, Bendis has a fundamentally different kind
of creative freedom to revise characters than a moviemaker (though he might have different legal rights, or enjoy some nebulous difference in audience tolerance, or something). To me, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury is pretty much the same proposition regardless whether Jackson was first cast in the role on the comic-book page or the big screen. Jackson's Fury isn't the original Fury. Ultimate Fury isn't the original Fury.
Suppose that before Ultimate Fury was introduced, a filmmaker had first cast Jackson as Fury and the comics had followed suit. I can't say I see what difference it would make. So it's not like I accept Jackson in the role because of the comic book. No sequence of events can make him be the same character. Neither version of the character is any harder to accept as a completely different Nick Fury than the other, and neither makes the other easier to accept. There's the original Fury, and the Ultimate/Jackson Fury, they're different characters, and that's the end of it.
Edited by SDG, 07 June 2010 - 03:07 PM.