4 Successful Adaptations That Prove Eyewear Choice Is Critical

Eyewear might seem like a mundane object in the grand scheme of an adaptation production, but you’d be surprised just how impactful they really are.

Adaptations Fandom Pop Culture
book, wand, and glasses reminiscent of Harry Potter

Beyond original stories and screenplays, the film industry has also been graced with a number of adaptations throughout the years. After all, audiences love to see their favorite characters move from the page to the silver screen. While a previous post recalls disappointing book adaptations like Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, there are still many gems that meet viewers’ expectations and give justice to the source material.

Such adaptations not only feature excellent writing, acting, and directing but also showcase the power of costume design. Specifically, the examples below demonstrate how eyewear choice is critical to visual communication and storytelling, lending itself relevant to the challenging process of bringing a character to life.

Harry Potter series (2001–2011)

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning possibly the most successful book-to-film adaptation of all time, which is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Spanning eight films in a decade, the film franchise was made all the more distinct by the titular character played by Daniel Radcliffe.

The bespectacled Harry was an accurate representation of the heroic character from the books, donning wire-rimmed round glasses as he confronted villains and discovered himself in the wizarding world. In fact, Harry Potter’s glasses made such a legacy to the extent that they were auctioned alongside the character’s wand as major film memorabilia.

The Princess Diaries series (2001–2004)

Another successful adaptation from the early 2000s was The Princess Diaries, based on Meg Cabot’s young adult novel series of the same name. As the first movie depicted how the main character, Mia Thermopolis, started out as an ordinary, goody-two-shoes high schooler, the actress Anne Hathaway wore endearingly nerdy glasses to truly play the part.

Eventually, Mia gets an iconic makeover scene in which she ditches the thick rectangular glasses—alongside her frizzy hair and dull outfits—and fully steps into her role as the crown princess of Genovia.

Fight Club (1999)

Besides adapting books marketed to young adults, filmmakers have also used satire novels to depict modern realities. Case in point: Chuck Palahniuk’s critically acclaimed Fight Club was made into a 1999 film directed by David Fincher, with Brad Pitt starring as soap salesman Tyler Durden.

Tyler’s character represents the novel’s themes of charisma, power, and confidence, and Pitt is repeatedly seen wearing shades, with a particular pair being from the top sunglasses brand Oakley. As Oakley’s brand identity revolves around similar themes of outdoorsy coolness and appeal through eyewear like the sleek Sliver and performance-oriented Sphaera, the MUZM Mars X-Metal Leather model worn by Pitt perfectly embodies the aforementioned character.

Top Gun franchise (1986–2022)

Whenever there’s a conversation about iconic eyewear in films, you simply can’t leave out the Ray-Ban Aviator worn by Tom Cruise in two films of the Top Gun franchise. While other films on the list were adapted from books, Top Gun’s source material was the 1983 article “Top Guns” by Ehud Yonay.

Cruise first popularized aviator sunglasses in 1986, when he first portrayed the lead character of Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a naval aviator training to be an elite pilot. As Cruise reprised the starring role for a 2022 sequel, there was a reported increase in the sales of the timeless, teardrop-shaped sunglasses that have become a trademark among U.S. pilots for their optimal functionality and eye protection.

In essence, the films discussed in the article reinforce the importance of eyewear not just as a stylish accessory but, more importantly, as a way to communicate a character’s story and the film’s overall themes.