After the recent announcement that surging independent comic publisher Valiant was also getting into the shared comic book movie universe game, I went and got myself a whole batch of their comics to familiarize myself with the main titles. Since they relaunched their entire line in 2012, the Valiant books have been picking up critical acclaim from just about everybody and their dog, but somehow I – this huge comic geek – never got around to reading them. Now was my chance, so that I could catch up before these movies would eventually get made. Well apparently “eventually” is not as far away as I may have thought.
ComicVine is reporting that Valiant and Sony Pictures have signed a 5-film deal to bring two of their best-selling comic books to the screen. Both Bloodshot and Harbinger will each get two films, before seeing the casts of each title go head-to-head in a crossover film titled Harbinger Wars, the latter of which is an adaptation of a best-selling crossover comic book event of the same name that followed the exact same setup as the films. And Valiant are not playing around when it comes to the talent they’ve got attached to this and when they’ll be putting it out.
Bloodshot will start off proceedings in 2017 already and will be helmed by the red-hot directing duo of Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, who just have just come off the absolutely kick-ass smash hit John Wick. The pair will be working off an already completed script by Kick-Ass 2‘s Jeff Wadlow and comic book scribe and The Thing remake screenwriter Eric Heisserer. Kingsman, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class director/writer Matthew Vaughn will act as executive producer alongside Jason Kothari.
Harbinger will follow next and will be penned solo by Heiserrer – who is also co-writer of the comic – but no directors have been officially revealed to be attached to the project yet. There have also been no creative teams announced yet for each movie’s planned sequel or Harbinger Wars, but all five films will be produced by the Fast & Furious franchise writing/producing team of Neal Moritz and Toby Jaffe, along with Valiant’s own Dinesh Shamdasani and Sony’s Andrea Giannetti.
That’s some serious Hollywood clout for a series of properties that audiences outside of the hardcore comic book crowd have probably never heard of. But Valiant know they have a good thing here, and I can personally vouch for the quality and potential of both Bloodshot and Harbinger, having caught up with the first dozen or so issues of both.
For the record, Bloodshot follows the titular super-soldier “brought back from the dead and infused with cutting-edge nanotechnology by private security contractor Project Rising Spirit”, who boasts enhanced strength, speed, endurance and a healing factor capable of repairing virtually any wound. Bloodshot’s past has been completely erased by PRS as they routinely wiped and replaced his identity with false memories tailored to whatever mission they sent him on at the time. Sometimes he would have to rescue his “son”, other times assassinate somebody trying to kill his “wife”, etc, but most of the time their mandate was to track down and capture super-powered individuals termed “psiots”. When a former PSR scientist rebels against his employers and informs Bloodshot about his altered memories before setting him free, it sets the soldier on a mission to track down who he really is and hold the people at PSR accountable. And by that, I mean shoot them with lots of bullets.
Harbinger focuses on one special psiot, “telekinetic teenage runaway Peter Stanchek and his recruitment into the mysterious Harbinger Foundation by secretive CEO and philanthropist Toyo Harada”. Psiots all have to be “activated”, a dangerous process that could either leave them with various mental abilities, or end up with their head exploding. So not a nice gamble. What makes Peter Stanchek special and why the mysterious Toyo Harada is so intent on recruiting him, is that not only does he possess a huge array of powerful psiotic abilities instead of just the normal one, but he is also one of only three known psiots in existence that were born already activated. There’s also the part of him being prophesied to destroy the entire world one day.
Both books are immensely popular, having sold millions of copies and published 100’s of issues in their two decades on the shelf, and they are also critical darlings, have been frequently praised since their relaunches in 2012. And in 2013 they were pitted against each other in Harbinger Wars, which would not only continue the streak of critical acclaim, but would become that year’s best-selling crossover event from an independent publisher. Valiant has kept firing on all cylinders ever since, so for them to not just make the transition to the big screen now, but also to do it in this way with these two particular properties makes a whole lot of sense.
Despite some people’s concern, I think we’re still some time away from the comic book movie popularity bubble bursting as superhero fatigue sets in. Well, as long as we can keep things fresh with new, interesting stories and characters. Valiant can do that, offering up titles that may have flashes of X-Men, Wolverine, Superman, etc., but overall don’t really feel like anything produced over at Marvel and DC. And if they keep throwing the level of talent at the rest of their lineup like they’re doing with their first film, then they may just end up offering the The Big Two some serious competition at the box office.
Last Updated: April 22, 2015