12 comics and books that could be coming to the screen soon – The Verge

The Wicked & The Divine

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s ongoing comics series about gods reincarnated as short-lived pop stars taps into modern ideas about celebrity and fandom, but also offers the potential for some tremendous visuals.

Why it’s exciting: Gillen’s premise in the book is fairly irresistible: Every 90 years, a group of recurring immortals are reincarnated into human bodies and become inspirations to their generation. In the modern era, that means becoming pop divas and superstars, with all the cultish adoration, critical analysis, and social media backlash that implies. The script suggests something as visually lively and dynamic as Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, but with a less manic and silly tone; there are some serious and thought-through issues here about how modern fandoms develop, and how some people would give up anything for fame.

How it might work: With the series still in progress, it’s hard to see what a series might ultimately look like, but the pickup by Universal Television — home of Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, and Grimm — isn’t entirely promising. The company’s previous genre outings suggest a potentially dour version of The Wicked & The Divine instead of the lighter, wryer version on the page.

The Sculptor

The Sculptor
The Sculptor

Scott McCloud’s magnum opus about a dying artist with the power to manipulate any substance has its flaws, but plenty of visual and narrative ambition.

Why it’s exciting: The writer-artist of Understanding Comics put five years into developing and drawing this intense story about David, a young wannabe sculptor who makes a deal with Death, exchanging his future for the ability to quickly, directly create anything he can envision. It’s openly a young man’s story about passion and ambition at the expense of the long term, and about the impatience for fame and impact in the short term. Which makes it a propulsive, captivating experience, as David struggles for relevance and independence, as his remaining time rapidly runs out. In a way, it’s a story about a superpower, which makes it screen-friendly, visually engaging, and comfortably within the current cultural zeitgeist. But it uses its superpower story to get at deeper ideas about creation, creativity, and art.

How it might work: The rights went to Sony, which has the budget to handle the necessary effects for David’s powers, but the question is what film producer Scott Rudin sees in the material, and what he want to preserve. He’s been involved with a lot of idiosyncratic, attention-grabbing films (most recently, Steve Jobs, Ex Machina, Moonrise Kingdom, and Captain Phillips), so he certainly isn’t about hammering the personal touch out of projects. Hopefully he and any eventual filmmaking team will hammer out some of the problems with the ending of this otherwise tremendous book.

Beneath The Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, And The Truth Beyond Blackfish

John Hargrove’s SeaWorld tell-all serves as a more personal companion volume to the documentary exposé Blackfish, about the damaging effects of captivity on killer whales, and the human deaths that have resulted.

Why it’s exciting: Hargrove’s New York Times bestseller follows up on the questions he raised when he appeared in 2013’s Blackfish, but adds a much more personal angle. Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary film comes from a journalistic and scientific angle, but Hargrove’s book is a passionate and specific call to action, based on first-person observation over years as an orca trainer.

How it might work: This is a hedgy one: Crash Films, which bought the rights, only has a handful of shorts under its belt, and is apparently just working with Hargrove on a screenplay to sell to investors. It’s unclear what they want to do with the book — make another documentary centered on Hargrove’s advocacy? Turn him into a fictional character in a Free Willy-style nature story? — so any eventual film could take a number of forms. But given Hargrove’s experience, something close to the truth is likely to have more power than a heavily fictionalized story.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web

The fourth book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series — written posthumously by David Lagercrantz, whose hiring to continue the series has been controversial and ugly — was apparently part of Sony’s blanket rights purchase of Larsson’s work. But the book’s 2015 publication opens up new possible directions for the studio that produced the American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Why it’s exciting: While Larsson’s books have been worldwide bestsellers, and the Swedish film adaptations (starring Noomi Rapace as super-hacker Lisbeth Salander) have done well, the second and third books in the series were never particularly suited for the screen, given their lack of direct action and the way they largely seem to exist to set up future developments in the books. Say what you will about Lagercrantz taking over, but his book is denser, more thoughtful, and more action-packed, with a distinct attempt to give audiences what they want: more of the first book’s unraveling mysteries, and more of Salander making significant choices instead of sitting passively in a courtroom or a hospital bed.

How it might work: Sony sources say the major players from its Dragon Tattoo — director David Fincher, Oscar-nominated star Rooney Mara, and co-star Daniel Craig — won’t be back, and the studio is using this as a chance to reboot the series. Seems appropriate, since the novels have been rebooted as well, following Larsson’s death. So the (almost certainly inevitable) film version may not have Fincher’s distinctive chilly design and harsh tone, but they’re likely to focus similarly on action and on Salander’s uniquely distanced but distinctly super-heroic take on protecting victimized women from violent men.