HARBINGER to now kick off Valiant cinematic universe; first full look at NINJAK revealed

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (actually, I already said it again and probably will do so again a whole lot more times after this): If you’re a fan of superhero comics, you need to be reading what Valiant Comics has been putting out since their big relaunch in 2012. Besides for the ridiculous amount of awards their titles have procured since then, Valiant also had the biggest untapped roster of superhero comics next to Marvel and DC Comics. Operative word there being “had”, as Sony signed a deal with the publisher last year to developed a shared cinematic universe based on their properties.

At the time, it was reported that the first move being developed would be Bloodshot, which focuses on the titular character, a practically unstoppable nanite-powered super-soldier who suffers from a severe identity crisis thanks to having his memories wiped and replaced with fake personalities repeatedly as part of his missions. In the comics, Bloodshot eventually breaks free from his handlers and tries to uncover the truth about who he is – killing a crap load of people along the way!

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However, it appears that Sony’s plans have changed, as the first movie to kick off the Valiant universe will now be Harbinger, which followed the exploits of a group of young characters led by the volatile Peter Stanchek, who possesses incredible psionic abilities. Like many other super-powered characters in the Valiant universe, Peter is recruited by the Harbinger Foundation and its mysterious billionaire leader Toyo Harada, but when Peter discovers that Harada’s intentions are all too shady he goes on the run with a group dubbed the Renegades. There’s a lot more story to this, particularly regarding Harada, who is one of the most intriguing (and ridiculously powerful) comic book characters out there, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

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According to The Wrap, Bloodshot will actually be introduced in Harbinger as the main villain used to try and round up the Renegades, before getting his own follow-up movie. Those two movies will also be used to spin-off additional titles which will then all culminate in a feature film adaptation of the award-winning “Harbinger Wars” crossover event, which in the comics saw Harada go to war with Bloodshot’s creators, Project Rising Spirit, with Bloodshot and the Renegades caught in between.

The Wrap’s sources indicate that besides for these titles, Sony are looking to focus on HARD Corps, Livewire, Generation Zero, and Faith – all of whom featured in the Harbinger War – as other titles to develop. Faith is actually a member of the Renegades who became a breakout character for Valiant with her incredible likability, and has since become quite the fan-favourite on the comic book scene.

There are a couple titles that are conspicuously absent off that list though, namely X-O Manowar and Ninjak, which are two of Valiant’s most high profile books. But if you recall we recently leaned that Ninjak will in fact be getting developed as a live-action web series, which will feature both X-O and Faith alongside a bunch of other characters. At the time it was said that Valiant would be unveiling more details about Ninjak at next weekend’s New York Comic-Con, but it seems that the publisher is jumping the gun a bit much to our delight, as they’ve released the first full look at Michael Rowe (best known for playing Deadshot in Arrow) in costume as the badass MI-6 assassin.

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Damn. That looks incredible. It’s faithful to the comic book, but also has a realistic practicality to it. Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani gave this statement alongside the pic.

“We’ve been quietly working behind the scenes on this series since 2015 and are incredibly excited to be debuting the first look at footage this year at New York Comic Con. We’ve set out to make the best and most ambitious series ever produced in the digital space – one that will live up to the high standards we’ve set in publishing. As Valiant gears up for an upcoming slate of film, television and video game releases, we felt the timing was right to begin to produce live-action digital content that would both give ours fans an experience truly worthy of the Valiant Universe, while also introducing new fans to the Valiant characters in the same way the animated television shows of the 1980s and 1990s did for comics in years past. Get ready to lose your mind – seeing Ninjak in action for the first time is nothing short of incredible.”

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That statement still doesn’t quite clarify whether the Ninjak web-series will in fact be a part of the movie universe, just introducing the characters who will then get their proper showing on the big screen, or whether this will be a completely standalone effort. Sony’s initial deal with Valiant was for just five films, and with Harbinger, Bloodshot and Harbinger Wars already slated that just leaves two blank spots, which doesn’t quite match up with the Wrap’s reports of all the titles they’re looking to develop.

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It could be Sony is just playing it moderately safe here and looking how audiences respond before committing to more. X-O, for example, with its story that spans everything from 5th century Roman empire to outer space alien civilizations to massive modern military battles would require a huge production budget. Hell, just the character’s alien armour and weapons alone would need something on the same level as what Marvel uses for Iron Man.

Harbinger currently doesn’t have a director or cast attached yet, but Sony have tapped rapidly up and coming writer Eric Heisserer (Lights Out, Arrival) to pen the screenplay.

Last Updated: September 30, 2016

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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