Book vs. Movie: The Old Guard

Hello book nerds!

Oh my. It’s been a while since I posted my first book vs. movie post! Well, in my defense, the last couple of months has been a whirlwind. But I’m here now, taking a break from rigorous reading, and finally writing this blog post!

Let me begin by saying this entry is a very special one. It’s special because I LOVED the movie. By “loved” I mean, “I got too invested and watched it more than five times AND I still think about it until now.” Yep. That’s exactly what I mean. And if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you would know I’m not joking. (Because I’m really not, I swear this movie got me HOOKED.)


Our subject is The Old Guard. The graphic novel is written by Greg Rucka and illustrated by Leandro Fernández, while the Netflix adaptation is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and stars Charlize Theron, KiKi Layne, Matthias Schoenaerts, Marwan Kenzari, Luca Marinelli, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

You might have heard of this already. It was a hit (and received many praises) when it was released this July 2020 on Netflix! I went in and watched the movie without knowing a lot about it, and then I came back a different person. I mean? Queer immortal warriors?? With found family trope, great action scenes, poignant themes, and a fun soundtrack?!? HELL YES. It’s everything I never knew I needed. I also adored it so much that I listed down seven reasons why you should watch The Old Guard. (Loved writing this one!) I also loved it so much that I hosted Netflix parties to watch it with some friends over at bookstagram! (That was really fun!)

Anyway, after partially getting over the movie (I say partially because I’m pretty sure will never get over it), I read the graphic novel! And of course, I just had to compare the two afterwards.

FAIR WARNING: This post has a LOT of spoilers. If you’ve already watched the movie/read the graphic novel, go right ahead! If not, please proceed with caution!

To help, here is the synopsis of The Old Guard: Opening Fire by Greg Rucka and the trailer for The Old Guard (2020).

Alright, are you nerds done? Great, let’s go!

The major differences between the book and the movie The Old Guard:

  • In the graphic novel, there was no fight scene between Andy and Nile. (For reference, here’s the iconic plan fight scene)
  • In the graphic novel, Nile doesn’t get to meet the others. When Andy and Nile get to the safe house, the others have already been attacked.
  • In the graphic novel, they didn’t find Copley. Instead, they went to Dubai for his office, not to London.
  • In the graphic novel, Nile is with them when they get betrayed. She’s suspicious about Booker. 
  • Nicky’s declaration of love for Joe is much longer in the book. (Yes, I’m categorizing this as a major difference because queer love in the media is just too precious)
  • In the graphic novel, Copley cooperated, but not because he saw his fault. Whereas in the movie, he immediately realized his mistake and saw the importance of Andy and the others’ work. The confrontation with him was also much more different (jumping from the building was involved).
  • They ambushed Merrick’s men in Dubai (and shot Merrick multiple times. There was no jumping from the building in this one.)
  • Also a big difference is that there is only little to some details about Quynh in the book. In the movie, they went on and narrated her and Andy’s relationship and her unfortunate demise, plus that ending also showed a cliffhanger involving a very much alive Quynh (possibly hinting at a sequel, which YES PLEASE).
  • And perhaps, one of the biggest and most stark differences for me is that, in the book, Andy’s completely fine and her immortality wasn’t fading at all.

Here are some minor differences:

  • Andy’s hair is long in the book.
  • Andy and Nicky met with Copley in the beginning to discuss their mission, not Andy and Booker.
  • There are a lot of flashbacks from Andy’s point of view in the book, and we get to see more about the immortals in these flashbacks.
  • In the book, Andy tells Nile a more detailed backstory about Booker.
  • In the book, it’s Booker’s head that injured when they got ambushed, not his stomach.
  • At one point, Andy threatens a civilian in the book.
  • Somehow, Andy’s character is much colder here in the novel.
  • Andy’s real age is revealed here in the book, as opposed to the movie where it remained a mystery.

What do I personally think?

So, what do I think? For me, I have to say the movie was better.

The graphic novel was great, don’t get me wrong! And that ending was exhilarating! But the movie, gosh, the movie. There’s something about the movie adaptation that’s so poignant and so serene and so profound in ways I cannot fully explain. I do suspect, Andy’s immortality is a big factor in this though. In the movie Andy’s immortality was starting to fade. Because of this, there was a newfound fear (and strength) in Andy’s character, there was melancholy and there was also nostalgia.

I also think the dynamic between the immortals is far better in the movie, which, of course, made me like it better. The found family trope is so glorious in the movie that it emanates warmth and wholesomeness. From the way Nicky and Joe love each other, to the way they all respect Andy deeply, to the way Andy cares about Booker, and all to the way Nile found her own place in the group. It was a beautiful journey and I got so invested in them.

Also, Quynh’s part in the movie was integral. The introduction to her character and her backstory is a big factor as to why the immortals dread capture, it shows why Andy is so protective of each and every one of them, it hints at another kind of queer love. And of course, it hints at an electrifying sequel! Quynh’s character is a mystery and I’m sure I’m not the only one when I say I’m excited to know more about her and new part in the continuation of the story.

And of course, I just want to say that I am in awe of Greg Rucka. Not only is he the author of the graphic novel, he also happens to be the screenplay writer for the movie! For me, he was able to create a screenplay that stuck true to the graphic novel, while also altering a few details that made perfect sense in the movie, therefore making it such a great adaptation.

And that’s it for my book vs. movie comparison of The Old Guard! This was so fun to write, but also very hard because I adored both the graphic novel and the movie.

How about you nerds? Have you watched this on Netflix? How about the graphic novel, have you read it? What do you think? Book or movie? Tell me in the comments!

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