C'mon Hollywood: Don't fear the "Preacher"!
With Comic Con 2012 now behind us, leaving a trail of teases and reveals to tide us over until next year, there is still a laundry list of projects that are left languishing in our peripherals; dream adaptations that have yet to see the production light of day. I could rattle off a dozen such projects from the top of my head, but for now I’ll focus on just one; the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon opus known as DC Vertigo’s PREACHER.
Ah, yes, I have your attention now. For those who have no idea what PREACHER is, here’s the shortest synopsis I can muster for such an epic tale: Jesse Custer, a small-town minister who is losing his faith, comes face-to-face with Genesis, the product of an angel and demon mating, which instills Custer with “the word” of God. Teaming up with his hitman girlfriend and a centuries-old Irish Vampire, Custer begins a violent journey in search of answers from the elusive deity. No capes, no spandex, no alien invasions.
PREACHER is the signature series of mature readers comics. It has paved the way for a bevy of groundbreaking series’ and opened the doors for more mature content in comics, allowing readers to experience more than PG-13 superpowers. It’s a comic with balls of steel being dragged through a minefield. Widely known as one of the most revered and epic tales ever spun in modern comics, PREACHER ran for 75 issues and is the next generation’s WATCHMEN (and leagues better, in my opinion). It’s one of the most powerful, offensive, violent, hilarious, controversial, and satisfying reads you’ll ever have on the printed page.
So, if it’s that f*cking great, why the hell is Hollywood so frightened of it? Well, the answer is in the question. To succeed with an adaptation would be phenomenal. To fail could be potentially career ending, given the controversial subject matter. Or, is that just hyperbole these days?
Writer Garth Ennis sold the rights to PREACHER in 1998, even writing numerous drafts of the script himself. From that point on, a bevy of talent from Rachel Talalay, Kevin Smith, D.J. Caruso, Mark Steven Johnson, and most recently, Sam Mendes, have dipped their toes in the PREACHER waters. But, as of yet, everyone has refrained from taking a swim. The producers even went as far as to cast actor James Marsden in the lead role of Custer (a great fit, I think) and the property has bounced back and forth from film and cable adaptations.
Currently, PREACHER sits in limbo. It’s a project that can be soaked up anytime in its native comic form, but one that begs to see a kick ass adaptation on the big (or small) screen. Certainly it’s controversial, but it’s also original, mysterious, and chock full of CHARACTERS, something that rarely escapes the work of Ennis, who adds scars to characters scars. He knows depth, quirk, strength, and weakness. Ultimately, he knows humanity (especially the ugly side), which is something sorely missing from the special-effects laden films we are often shouldered with. It’s a breath of fresh air after climbing from the live burial of one reboot/remake after another.
In many respects, I get it. Religion in general is a touchy subject. We can sit and toss rocks at one side of the fence or the other, but in the end, we’ve all got things that offend us. However, we always have the opportunity to simply not watch/read the things we dislike. However, when people are looking for money to fund something as potentially offensive as PREACHER there is definitely some trepidation.
However, I’d like to think that we’ve moved on to a point where we can coexist with each other’s entertainment preferences. We’re made to accept anything and everything these days, so perhaps it’s time to use that momentum to get some of the more controversial projects like PREACHER off the ground. The inclination is to blame the religious right or red states, but that’s all bullshit (For the record, I’m more conservative than anything else and I f*cking love PREACHER). The problem isn’t any one group, the problem is the gigantic stick that’s stuck up so many people’s asses in seeing anything which challenges thought or has a hint (or shotgun blast) of blasphemy.
Even when Hollywood plays it safe it can fail, so why not take a risk for once? I'm offended by MADEA and CHIPMUNK movies, which I choose not to see, yet they still make money. No one gets hurt. Why can't the same be applied to PREACHER? It’s a true shame that HBO, arguably one of the ballsiest networks (see: Game of Thrones), tucked tail and ran from PREACHER, because a serialized venue is perfect for the property. With comic book properties being snatched up like hotcakes, why can’t we get an adaptation of one that’s primed for a cinematic adaptation and unabashedly sharp, original, and exceptionally entertaining?
Here’s my message to Hollywood from Jesse Custer himself:
Now...let's see if that works...
|Extra Tidbit:||For those familiar with PREACHER, let's hear your choice of a potential director and cast members. Here's some from me: Directors: Joe Carnahan, Rob Zombie, Zack Snyder. Cast: James Marsden as Jesse Custer (he deserves the leading role for once), Charlize Theron as Tulip, Colin Farrel as Cassidy, Timothy Olyphant or Kevin Costner as The Saint of All Killers, and Kevin Spacey as Herr Star. Arseface could be just about anyone, but Shia LeBouf would be interesting.|