Author: Josh Wigler

‘Agnes Quill’ Heads to Paramount

‘Agnes Quill’ Heads to Paramount

Paramount has picked up the screen rights to Dave Roman’s graphic novel Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery. Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs) will direct from a script by Evan Spiliotopoulos. Variety reports that Agnes Quill is "the first acquisition for Adam Goodman since transitioning from DreamWorks."

Publisher Slave Labor Graphics describes Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery as follows:

"For Agnes Quill, talking to the dead is the easiest part of her life. As the heir to her great-grandfather’s detective business, the sixteen-year-old Agnes must solve mysteries in the haunted, cobble-stoned and foggy city Legerdemain. It’s a lot of responsibility for a teenaged girl, but Agnes is devoted to continuing her family’s legacy. As she solves the strange cases her clients bring to her, Legerdemain’s dearly departed citizens help, hinder, or just plain annoy her. Working with, against or in spite of these ghosts, Agnes frees trapped spirits, cursed souls and possessed relatives, finds disappearing pets, and confronts decapitated scientists, ambitious zombies, and other supernatural menaces, in Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery."

Agnes Quill is the latest in a series of many independent comic books to be optioned as film, following the recently announced Villains, Torso and Freaks of the Heartland. Dave Roman originally created Agnes as a series of stand-alone webcomics, which were later collected by SLG Publishing in October 2006. Agnes features art from Jason Ho, Jen Wang, Jeff Zornow and Eisner-nominee Raina Telgemeier. Roman is also the author of Harvey-nominated webcomic Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden.

You can read Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery for free online by clicking here.

Tartakovsky Armors Up for ‘Iron Man 2’

Tartakovsky Armors Up for ‘Iron Man 2’

Ain’t It Cool News has an in depth interview with Jon Favreau about all sorts of stuff, ranging from his upcoming Couple’s Retreat to the revolutionary effect James Cameron’s Avatar will have on the movie industry. One of the greatest tidbits dropped by Favreau involves, unsurprisingly, Iron Man 2. According to the helmer, cartoon genius Genndy Tartakovsky has come aboard the flick as a storyboarder.

"I’ve always liked [Tartakovsky’s] Samurai Jack and I loved his Clone Wars vignettes," Favreau tells AICN. "We’re storyboarding and designing sequences, he and his team have come in, and I’m working with them and they’re working on collaborating with us on the project and that’s a new wrinkle … I feel like I’m really learning a lot."

Favreau acknowledges that Tartakovsky is a newcomer to live action, but his extensive Marvel knowledge and skill set as a fight choreographer bring an interesting viewpoint to the super-hero sequel. Besides, having an animator on board ups the ante, says Favreau.

"[Audiences] don’t just want to see Iron Man 1 all over again, they want to see us take it to another level," Favreau claims. "With a guy like Genndy … it opened a whole new world of possibilities and I’m really enjoying [it]. It really makes it fun to go to work."

The Russian born Tartakovsky is credited for creating, writing and directing Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack. He’s also worked on The Powerpuff Girls, The Powerpuff Girls Movie and the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated featurettes. The animator has also pitched a cartoon series of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower to HBO, but the odds are lessened by the success of Marvel’s Dark Tower comics. Additionally, Tartakovsky is directing Power of the Dark Crystal, a sequel to 1982’s cult classic The Dark Crystal.

It’s important to note that Favreau’s interview with AICN took place prior to Terrence Howard’s removal from Iron Man 2. As such, no mention of Howard exists in the interview. Nonetheless, the site’s founder and webmaster Harry Knowles chimed in on the rumors surrounding the actor’s removal.

"[Howard] was either making demands (financial or creative) that the production wasn’t willing to address to the degree that would make Terrence happy," Knowles conjectures. "But Terrence and [his replacement, Don] Cheadle have a very similar pay scale currently. So I can’t imagine it is financial."

Knowles offers up an interesting alternative theory: "The other factor it could be is if Terrence made himself difficult to work with, I have heard some very weird things about him recently, that is the sort of thing I don’t repeat, but I do know if he pulled these types of things around Jon [Favreau]… I completely would see why Howard would be shown the door."

Harry Knowles and Favreau previously worked together on an adaptation of John Carter of Mars that never came to fruition. Given their relationship, it’s possible that Knowles has an inside scoop Howard’s removal. Still, it’s unlikely that Favreau would tell Knowles even if he did know the real reason. In all likelihood, the truth of Howard’s departure from the Iron Man franchise will become one of Hollywood’s great untold stories, or, even likelier, will be forgotten in a few years.

Millar Talks ‘Superman’ Pitch

Millar Talks ‘Superman’ Pitch

It’s no secret that Mark Millar wants in on Warner Bros.’ announced Superman relaunch. He’d hoped to write what ended up being Superman Returns, but was held back due to an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics. Recently, Millar put himself back in the mix for Kal El’s next adventure, alleging the attachment of a "big Hollywood action director" to his vision.

Empire Online has an interview with the Superman: Red Son writer about his take on the character’s film future. Millar hopes to film an eight hour saga, split over three years ala Lord of the Rings.

He unveils details of the would-be film, describing it thusly:

"I want to start on Krypton, a thousand years ago, and end with Superman alone on Planet Earth, the last being left on the planet, as the yellow sun turns red and starts to supernova, and he loses his powers.

"It’s gonna be like Michael Corleone in the Godfather films, the entire story from beginning to end," Millar continues. "You see where he starts, how he becomes who he becomes, and where that takes him. The Dark Knight showed you can take a comic book property and make a serious film, and I think the studios are ready to listen to bigger ideas now."

Millar says he understands what Bryan Singer went for with Superman Returns. "[Singer was going for an] homage to Richard Donner’s original vision," he says, "but I think you should pay homage by doing something completely different."

Unsurprisingly, Donner was tickled pink at Singer’s tribute to the 1978 Superman. However, in the face of an inevitable reboot, Donner agrees that a comic book writer should tackle the character… just not Mark Millar.

"I’d like to see Geoff Johns take a crack at Superman," Donner told the L.A. Times earlier this month. "I think he would be startling. Did you read his comics? There it is. It’s there on paper."

Johns, who previously worked as an assistant to Donner, collaborated with the filmmaker on a string of Superman comic book arcs, including "Last Son" and "Escape From Bizarro World." Clearly, then, he’s biased on the situation, but can he be blamed? Johns has written some truly excellent stories in Action Comics, most notably his recent "Brainiac" five parter that re-killed John Kent and leads into the current "New Krypton" arc.

Maybe it is Johns who should tackle the Man of Steel, but by all accounts, it sounds like Millar’s first on line. Who do you think would be the better man for the project? Sound off below!

‘Kick-Ass,’ ‘G.I. Joe’ Set Pictures

‘Kick-Ass,’ ‘G.I. Joe’ Set Pictures

Set new photos from Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass have come online. Slash Film has the scoop, revealing the best headshot to date of Aaron Johnson as Dave Lizewski, also known as teen vigilante Kick-Ass. There have been better photos of him, which Slash Film also has.

It’s also the first look at Christopher Mintz-Plasse as another young crime fighter, Red Mist. Mintz-Plasses is better known to the general public as Superbad‘s McLovin. He’s also starring in David Wain’s upcoming Role Models as an avid LARPer.

Kick-Ass, based on Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.’s limited series of the same name, is currently filming in Toronto and is slated for a 2009 release.

Meanwhile, HISS Tank has gotten their hands on a slew of potential photos from the set of G.I. Joe. The pictures reveal what looks to be mute ninja Snake-Eyes’ motorcycle in the film. Evidence for this includes the two samurai swords sheathed in the back of the cycle, as well as the red insignia commonly found on the ninja’s costume.

G.I. Joe, directed by Stephen Sommers, comes from a screenplay by Stuart Beattie and Skip Woods. It’s scheduled for release on August 7, 2009.

Columbia Brings ‘Preacher’ to the Choir

Columbia Brings ‘Preacher’ to the Choir

Both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety are reporting that Columbia Pictures has picked up the rights to adapt Preacher for film. The Vertigo series will be directed by Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition). Neal Moritz (I Am Legend) will produce with Original Films alongside Jason Netter (Wanted) of Kickstart Productions. There are no writers currently attached.

Created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion, Preacher focuses on small town preacher Jesse Custer who becomes possessed by the entity known as Genesis. The supernatural being is the offspring of an angel and a demon, and bestows upon Custer the Word of God — the ability to tell anyone to do anything. When Custer learns that God has abandoned Heaven, Jesse sets off with gun-toting ex-girlfriend Tulip and hard-drinking vampire Cassidy to meet their maker and hold him accountable for leaving humanity to fend for itself.

Preacher is an incredibly beloved series by comic fans everywhere. It’s come close to adaptation twice before, once as a movie and later as a television series. View Askew Productions held the rights for several years with James Marsden (X-Men) set to play Custer. This version advanced as far as the make up testing stages for Arseface, a teenager who disfigures himself during a botched Kurt Cobain inspired suicide attempt. Samuel L. Jackson expressed interest in playing the Saint of all Killers. Though the project never took off, you can find the make up tests (pictured above) and concept art of Jackson as the Saint by clicking here. Arseface looks awesome, by which we mean totally gross… by which, of course, we still mean awesome.

Most recently, a television adaptation of Preacher was developing over at HBO. Mark Steven Johnson and Howard Deutch, the writer-director team behind Grumpier Old Men, were set as executive producers. Johnson was particularly vocal about the project, declaring that each issue would see translation as a one-hour episode. Despite his devotion to keeping Ennis and Dillon’s vision intact, skepticism arose regarding Johnson’s previous comic-to-film record, which includes Daredevil and Ghost Rider. In the end, Preacher never got off the ground due to its controversially dark and violent content which Johnson refused to compromise. Preacher certainly would’ve made for a brilliant television series, but perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise that the man who handed Affleck his red tights is off the project.

Given its rocky history, it’ll be a while before anyone truly believes that this rendition of Preacher will have any more success than its predecessors. To be fair, producers Moritz and Netter are already attached to produce The Boys, another Ennis series from Dynamite, with Columbia Pictures. When they cast Simon Pegg as Wee Hughie, we’ll know they mean business. Still, Preacher is clearly in the hands of Ennis fans, implying that there are some seriously sick people running Columbia. When it comes to anything Ennis, that’s more than fine with us.

Nolan: Marvel’s Crossover Agenda Won’t Work For Batman

Nolan: Marvel’s Crossover Agenda Won’t Work For Batman

While The Dark Knight dominated the summer movie market, Marvel pulled off something incredible as well: creating the foundations for a Marvel movieverse. From Nick Fury mentioning The Avengers to Tony Stark’s cameo in The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Studios began a new era of crossover events that will culminate in The Avengers in 2011. Most fans are elated by this method, but there’s one guy who isn’t totally down with the concept, at least on his own franchise: Chris Nolan.

In the final portion of a three-part interview, The Dark Knight director Nolan tells The L.A. Times that "cross-fertilization" isn’t something that bodes well for his vision of the Caped Crusader.

"I don’t think our Batman, our Gotham, lends itself to that kind of cross-fertilization," says the filmmaker. "It goes back to one of the first things we wrangled with when we first started putting the story together: Is this a world in which comic books already exist? Is this a world in which superheroes already exist? If you think of Batman Begins and you think of the philosophy of this character trying to reinvent himself as a symbol, we took the position — we didn’t address it directly in the film, but we did take the position philosophically — that superheroes simply don’t exist. If they did, if Bruce knew of Superman or even of comic books, then that’s a completely different decision that he’s making when he puts on a costume in an attempt to become a symbol."

Nolan regards other super-hero films such as Superman Returns as coming from "a different universe. It’s a different way of looking at it. Now, it’s been done successfully, very successfully, in the comics so I don’t dispute it as an approach. It just isn’t the approach we took. We had to make a decision for Batman Begins."

  Warner Bros. unleashed the wrath of a million super-hero lovers when they unveiled their plans for Justice League: Mortal. The film would have been released prior to solo adventures for the majority of the team’s roster, including The Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman. Another strike against the film was its alleged casting choices, pitting newcomers and undesired stars alike in the roles of fan favorite characters. Adam Brody (The O.C.) would’ve played Wally West, Common (Wanted) would’ve played John Stewart, and Megan Gale (Stealth) would’ve played Wonder Woman.

One of the biggest casting controversies came in the form of Armie Hammer. The 22-year-old actor, whose most high profile project to date is a guest stint on Desperate Housewives, was attached to the play Batman in Justice League. For fans of Nolan’s work, it was bad enough that Bale wouldn’t be involved in the team-up flick. Hammer’s involvement was the salt in the wound.

Some comfort can be taken in the fact that the WB announced a refocusing of their DC Comics properties, taking a cue from Marvel’s crossover agenda. To date, Green Lantern is moving forward with Hal Jordan as the hero and Green Arrow will headline the super-human prison escape flick Super Max. There’s already talk about a third Nolan-helmed Batman and active plans for a Superman relaunch, which Mark Millar is heavily lobbying for.

But despite all of this, the Justice League: Mortal actors are still attached to the project on IMDb, which is slated for a 2011 release date. Within the last few months, Armie Hammer has spoken about the film as if it’s still on the horizon. In the end, it might take a real life Justice League to ensure that Justice League the movie can match the inevitable success that The Avengers is poised to see.

Laugier Directing ‘Hellraiser’ Relaunch

Laugier Directing ‘Hellraiser’ Relaunch

The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Pascal Laugier is in final negotiations do direct Dimension’s reboot of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. The director is most known for his controversial French horror film Martyrs. Dimension has attempted to relaunch the Hellraiser franchise for several years now, with Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo originally attached to write and direct the picture. Most recently, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton wrote a new draft, but it’s unclear if their vision will be used for Laugier’s picture.

"This is a dream project for me," Laugier said of Hellraiser. "I know Clive Barker’s work very well, and I would never betray what he has done. Fans are expecting a definitive Hellraiser, and I don’t want to take that away from them."

Anyone worried about how hard R the film might be can stop worrying now. Laugier’s Martyrs has been described as a torture porn and yielded an 18+ rating in France, which is the equivalent of NC-17 in the United States. According to THR, several people reportedly fainted during a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Sounds like Pinhead’s going to have his hands full.

In Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, Frank Cotton is sent to Hell when he foolishly plays with a mysterious box called The Lament Configuration. His former lover Julia, an adulturus woman in an unhappy marriage, assists Frank in finding three victims so that he may escape Hell and live again. In the end, it’s assumed that both Frank and Julia fail at their task and are sent back to Hell. Hellraiser spawned multiple spin-offs, though none directed by Clive Barker, and most largely panned by critics.

Hellraiser joins a growing list of classic horror icons remade for the 21st century. Rob Zombie reinterpreted Halloween back in 2007 to mixed reviews. Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes also saw mildly received remakes recently. There are active plans for a Robert Englund-less Nightmare on Elm Street reboot, as well as a new Kane Hodder-less Friday the 13th debuting in 2009. Of all these horror remakes, perhaps the best shot at success goes to the planned Child’s Play update, as the iconic Brad Dourif is set to voice the homicidal Good Guy doll, Chucky, once again.

‘Villains’ Target Theaters

‘Villains’ Target Theaters

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal has picked up the movie rights to the upcoming Viper Comics graphic novel Villains. Universal reportedly paid a mid-six-figure sum for the rights, which could prove profitable if the lesser-known property enjoys the same super-hero buzz that other films in the genre have yielded. Sean Bailey produces via his Idealogy banner, and Matt Jennison and Brent Strickland are set to write the screenplay. Jennison and Strickland are also working on the stalled Wonder Woman for Warner Brothers and Joel Silver.

Villains, not to be confused with the current Heroes volume on NBC, is a four issue mini-series by Adam Cogan and Ryan Cody. Villains focuses on Nick Corrigan, "an aimless 20-something who discovers that his aging neighbor used to be the notorious supervillain known as ‘Hardliner,’ now retired and living in hiding for the past few decades. Rather than turn him in to the authorities, Nick decides to blackmail him in exchange for lessons in the fine art of career super-crime. But the old pro is about to teach his student some lessons he’ll never forget."

The original series was originally published by Viper Comics in 2006. A second mini-series is set for this fall, which should provide solid source material if Villains does well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel.

How do you guys feel about Villains heading to film? Psyched? Meh? Think there’s other super-villains that should get their big screen licks in first? Personally, I’d love to see The Hood first.

‘Torso’ Grows Legs

‘Torso’ Grows Legs

Bill Mechanic, the former chairman of 20th Century Fox and now founder of independent production company Pandemonium, told Collider that the long planned adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’ Torso is heading into production soon.

"Torso is moving right towards the starting gate," Mechanic tells the site. "We’ve got a screenplay and we’re waiting for Paramount to decide when to make it."

He also confirms what many have heard: David Fincher will direct the feature.

"I’m hoping we’re shooting in March or April … [so] it should be [Fincher’s next project]," says Mechanic.

And while he has a ton of faith in the project, he does admit that there will be departures from the source material, much in the way that the movie Fight Club broke off from the novel.

"Torso the movie, which may not be called Torso the movie at the end of the day … makes the book better reading because it doesn’t follow [the book] literally," Mechanic says.

Though he’s known today for revitalizing The Avengers, killing all the mutants in House of M and making Skrulls a threat again in Secret Invasion, Brian Bendis’ roots as a comics creator go back to his days at Caliber Comics. He published a string of noir crime comics with Caliber, including Fire (1993), A.K.A. Goldfish (1994) and Flaxen (1995). His most known early works are Jinx (1996), which is the namesake of his Web site JinxWorld, and the comic in question, Torso (1998). It may be hard to believe with top artists Leinil Yu and others illustrating his work, but Bendis actually illustrated a large part of his early work, including Torso. Bendis also co-wrote the novel alongside Marc Andreyko (DC’s Manhunter).

Torso is a historical fiction limited series published by Image Comics. The story focuses on the "Torso Murderer," an actual serial killer in the 1930’s who left behind only the torsos of his victims, making them very difficult to identify for police without DNA testing. The investigator on the case and protagonist of Torso is Eliot Ness, Cleveland Chief of police and one-time head of the Untouchables, the police task force that enforced Prohibition and went after crime lord Al Capone.

Though no official casting has been made, Mechanic did tell Collider that "a lot of things being written [online] about [the film] are probably true." Jake Gyllenhaal and Matt Damon are the two actors long rumored for Torso, so perhaps they’ll be the guys to star in the feature.

Marvel ‘Irons’ Out ‘Avengers’ Trio

Marvel ‘Irons’ Out ‘Avengers’ Trio

While Tony Stark is drunk on booze, Robert Downey Jr. is drunk on Tony Stark. Marvel has announced that the actor will once again don the superheroic lush’s iron clad boots for Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. While it was widely assumed that RDJ would return, this is the first official word from Marvel Studios themselves. It’s also the first casting decision made for The Avengers, insuring that at least some continuity will carry over in the Marvel movie-verse.

Additionally, Jon Favreau and Don Cheadle have also made deals with Marvel. Favreau is officially announced as the director for Iron Man 2 and will serve as executive producer on The Avengers. Favreau had publicly declared his hopes to direct The Avengers, but conceded that it was an unlikely scenario given the close proximity to working on Iron Man 2.

Cheadle, meanwhile, has officially dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s to play Jim "Rhodey" Rhodes for Iron Man 2. Marvel notes that "Cheadle is also signed on to perform the same role in The Avengers and subsequent installments of the Iron Man franchise." It’s almost a sure thing that War Machine will pop up in Iron Man 2 so that he can team up with Stark and the other heroes in The Avengers. Cheadle’s official casting is sure to crush some spirits that were hoping for a last minute Terrence Howard revival.

Interestingly enough, Favreau is the only one of the three not officially signed for Iron Man 3. Months ago, Marvel was reportedly set to drop the director from Iron Man 2 due to financial disagreements. That, as it later turned out, was Terrence Howard’s downfall instead. Still, it appears that the studio is keeping Favreau’s involvement at a slight arm’s length in case the money problems pop up once again.

Either way, it’s exciting to have some official movement on Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. The next few years should be pretty solid for comic book fans.