'The Mask' May Be A Little Messed Up, But It's Not Nearly As Twisted As The Comic It's Based On

When The Mask hit theaters in July 1994, it became a massive comedy hit that helped launch Jim Carrey into the realm of superstardom. It tells the story of a mild-mannered banker named Stanley Ipkiss who finds a magic mask that turns him into a living cartoon character. With a hunger for mischief and a whole lot of charisma, Ipkiss as The Mask isn't afraid to break the law for fun. It features some surprisingly risqué jokes and surreal imagery, but it's (mostly) a family-friendly action-comedy romp.

Meanwhile, the Dark Horse comic it's based on is far different. Carrey's portrayal of the rubber-faced cartoonish lunatic is an amazing recreation of the character, but the tone of the comics is so much darker and more horrifying that it's a real shock any studio thought they'd be able to adapt it in the first place. The only way they could do that was to strip out the buckets of blood and mayhem.

Here's a look at how truly dark and twisted the source material for a beloved childhood comedy classic really is.

  • Stanley Ipkiss Is Not A Nice Guy

    In the film version of The Mask, Carrey plays Stanley Ipkiss as a hapless, shy, genuinely decent person whose id is released by the eponymous mask. When it unleashes his inner wild child, he basically does what any young man - or repressed adult man - dreams of doing: he robs banks, pranks the people who bully him, and flirts with pretty ladies. However, from the first few pages of The Mask comic, Ipkiss is a vastly different kind of person.

    While the comic Ipkiss is also meek and downtrodden - he gets severely beaten by bikers in the first few pages of the story - his inner id isn't content with nonviolent hijinks and harmless fun. This version of Ipkiss transforms from a bitter, passive-aggressive jerk into a full-blown psychopath who gets revenge on the bikers by slaying them in incredibly severe ways.

    Instantly corrupted by the supernatural powers of the mask, Ipkiss makes a literal list of people he intends to get bloody vengeance on. This includes anyone who has wronged him in his life, extending as far back as an elementary school teacher who used to be mean to him. Ipkiss starts wearing camo clothing, becomes outwardly aggressive, and nearly strikes his own girlfriend - even when he isn't wearing the mask.

  • The Mask Has Its Own Agenda

    In the movie, the mask seems to first entice people via some sort of mystical allure - then tempts them to put it on again because of the supernatural, reality-bending powers it bestows upon whomever wears it. However, in the comic, the mask appears to be remarkably more sentient than that. Even when it's not being worn, it can talk to people who are holding it. 

    After Ipkiss buys the mask for his girlfriend, he immediately manages to anger some bikers and is severely roughed up. Walking back to his apartment, he daydreams and mutters about getting revenge - to which the mask, apparently reading his mind, suggests they go back and eliminate the bikers. 

    Later, the mask also tries to persuade Ipkiss's girlfriend not to turn it over to the cops - which leads to her arguing with it inside the police station. Eventually, the mask tries to talk Lieutenant Kellaway into offing his partner. Basically, it's the One Ring from The Lord of The Rings, but way less subtle and driven by its own desire to cause utter chaos.

  • The Mask Is Known As The 'Big-Head' Serial Killer To The Press

    In The Mask movie, the green-faced wrongdoer is dubbed "The Mask" - possibly just to make things easier from a screenplay standpoint, or maybe because it seems obvious that someone with a green face is wearing a disguise. However, the comic goes a different direction. Due to the mayhem and madness unleashed by Ipkiss while wearing the powerful mask, he soon gets a catchy moniker in the press: The Big-Head slayer. The somewhat less-than-creative name obviously comes from the cartoonish giant green head that anyone who wears the mask appears to have. As Ipkiss goes around settling grudges and dispatching cops in an incredibly over-the-top spree, no one has any idea that it's even a person in a mask.

    The nickname sticks even after other people start wearing the mask because, as far as the public knows, it's still the same crook. So while Ipkiss was a crazed slayer and Kellaway ends up being a vigilante who tries to stop bad guys, they are both referred to as Big-Head.

  • Lt. Kellaway Gets The Mask And Tries To Be A Vigilante

    In the big screen adaptation of The Mask , Lieutenant Kellaway is a by-the-book cop who is generally a decent guy and is trying to bring the green-headed offender to justice. In the comic series, Kellaway is a hot-headed cop who genuinely cares about protecting the city but is willing to break some rules to put the bad guys behind bars (or in a grave). However, he doesn't turn into a full-on vigilante until he tries the mask on for himself and discovers its powers.

    Assuming that he can use his new superhuman abilities for good, Kellaway as Big Head saves a bunch of hostages during an armed stand-off, wipes out a dealer who's got the District attorney's office on his payroll, and exposes the amoral assistant DA. However, the mask's raw madness and penchant for disorder begins to twist Kellaway, too - though he doesn't realize it until he almost slays his partner with a stick of dynamite.

    Kellaway eventually seals the mask under the cement floor of his basement to make sure no one - including himself - can get to it. But the mask doesn't stay down for long. After the mob puts a hit on Kellaway, a home incursion ends with the lieutenant digging up the mask in a desperate attempt to save himself. It doesn't end well for anyone involved.

  • Stanley Is Slain By His Girlfriend, Kathy

    Stanley Ipkiss originally buys the mask for his girlfriend, Kathy, as a means of getting back into her good graces. However, once he learns of its magic powers, he seldom lets it out of his sight. While Kathy doesn't know that her boyfriend is Big-Head, she does know he's become a different, awful person since buying the mask. So she throws it away. After Ipkiss flips out on her for getting rid of it, she finally kicks him out of her home.

    True to form, the sleazy Ipkiss later breaks into her apartment to get the mask, and she calls the cops. This sets off a series of escalating encounters between Big Head and the cops that ends with the city in flames and Ipkiss deciding he should skip town. 

    Returning to his own apartment, an exhausted Ipkiss takes off the mask and leaves it on the bed. Kathy, now aware what kind of monster the mask has turned her boyfriend into, is secretly waiting for him inside. Using his one moment of vulnerability, she puts on the mask and ends his reign of terror.

  • Kathy Goes On To Wear The Mask, But Only To Stop Another Slayer

    Kathy uses the mask to cap Ipkiss at the end of the first storyline, but she is able to resist the temptation to put it on again. After failing to destroy the magical object (sledgehammers, chainsaws, and other tools prove useless against it), she gives it to Lt. Kellaway for safekeeping. She never intends to wear it again, but Kellaway's misuse of the mask eventually pulls her back into its orbit.

    After Kellaway is assailed by mobsters and seemingly slain in his basement, the hitmen take the mask and - not realizing its power - put it on their meek getaway driver as a joke. As Big Head, the driver immediately begins his bloody ascent to the top of the syndicate's hierarchy - eventually installing himself as the city's kingpin. To once again stop the mask's reign of terror, Kathy seduces the new Big Head and persuades him to take off the mask before they get intimate. Once he does, Kathy takes him out and is forced to become Big Head herself to get out of a house full of armed guards.

    Kathy ends up taking out quite a few mobsters in self-defense, but then must contend with the monstrous hitman Walter. The towering, silent Walter is the only individual tough enough to take what Big Head can dish out - and he also seems to be one of the only people who realizes Kathy is wearing a mask. 

    After reaching a stalemate with Walter, Kathy finally relents, tired of all the chaos, and just takes the mask off. Unlike the others who wore it, she seems to have no problem giving up the immense power.