Ex. Rob Liefeld on the characters & format for Extreme Studios on Netflix

This week may be all about DEADPOOL 2, but there are plenty of comic-book properties on their way to the big and small screen in the weeks, months and years to come. Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld has now seen a number of his Marvel-created characters come to life on the big screen, but he's also got a wide selection of chaaracters left to make the transition, particularly in his creator-owned Extreme Universe, which he recently inked a deal to bring to Netflix with the help of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. For those not all that familiar with the characters of that universe, I spoke to Liefeld about what we can expect, which characters will be central to it and what platform they'll be presented in (films or series). Here's the rundown...

Liefeld on why he went with Netflix for the Extreme Universe:

"I felt like my characters deserved the very best home, and when Netflix became a landing place for them, I mean, you gotta understand, I believe the two biggest, most important brands in the entertainment business right now are Marvel and Netflix, and I know that Marvel has shows on Netflix, but I have three teenagers who are constantly consuming from their tablets, and it's all Netflix all the time. It's uncanny how I really ... I felt like ... Look, deals take time. Deals in any business, they become more and more complicated, and I was not not gonna let this one happen. I'm like, 'Nope. Nope. Netflix is the future. Streaming is the future.' Whatever my instincts are, which are positive about it, they are only underscored and re-emphasized by the fact that my daughter and my two sons, I see how they consume, and I see how all their friends consume, and I've gotten over the fact that like "You're watching a movie on your phone?" To 'I'm just happy you're watching a movie.' It's better than playing an app game, in my ... at least you're getting storytelling. Now the app game people are gonna come after me. But the thing is, look, I see how they are interacting, and so Netflix, to me, is the most transformative platform that's currently in play, and it's not going anywhere."

"Everybody is starting behind Netflix. They are out there. They've got the market penetration, and like I said, they've got DC ... I mean, they've got the Marvel shows. They've got Stranger Things. They've got ... I mean, they drop a documentary like Wild Wild Country, and there goes the next three days of my life. So I've become part of it. I've become part of the consumption."

Liefeld on how Netflix plans to present the Extreme Universe:

"They came and they said, 'We want to make escalating movies that will feed into each other, so it'll be a family of films.' It's not unlike what Marvel has achieved in film, although we are attempting to do it on a streaming platform. I do believe more and more original content is gonna come through streaming, and so the opportunity to work with the Akiva Goldsman who ... Akiva has had a great year with Star Trek: Discovery. He launched CBS's genre platform, and was rewarded with that by launching the Titans on the new DC platform that'll come out. Dove, the female Dove, is a different character than the male Dove, which traditionally never worked, and at DC I co-created Dawn Granger, and she has stood the test of time, almost 30 years now. She is portrayed by Minka Kelly in the Titans, which is written, produced, and directed, several episodes, by Akiva Goldsman himself, so Akiva and I had been getting to know each other through the Titans, and he had expressed interest in Extreme, and we had dangled with traditional movies, and I'm telling you, I was not ... I didn't feel that we could compete at this point. Like, what Marvel's doing is revolutionary in film."

"But going with films, because again, we're doing five films. The deal with Netflix calls for five films, featuring characters and titles from my Extreme library. Again, they have the same fan base. I get asked about it all the time. I've been doing show after show, Calgary, Dallas, I'm doing Orlando, and on my Instagram and my social, people are like, "Tell me about Netflix. Tell me about Netflix." So, as we build the writers' room out, that will become news worthy, and we'll get that out there. I mean, Netflix is serious about getting this out, and not putting it on the back burner. You know, when you have the catalog or the characters as I do in this case, you want to see them addressed and not get buried in some sort of development hell, and the other thing that Netflix promised that they'd get going on this. Again, you have to judge people by their desire."

Liefeld on the power of Netflix and how BRIGHT inspired him to go with them:

"So around Christmas, my daughter had, about a week before Christmas, my daughter had all her friends over and they were gonna have a cookie decorating party, and she told me about 4:00 in the afternoon, 'Hey, dad, could do that thing where you don't kind of like come downstairs and don't interrupt us?' I said, 'Babe, there is a hundred million dollar movie debuting up in mom and dad's bedroom tonight. It's called BRIGHT. It stars Will Smith. It's on Netflix. You won't see me.' I got a hundred million dollar movie that's debuting in my-it could be in my living room, my family room. Just so happened this one, we took it in the bedroom, so we're gonna just watch it upstairs on the big TV, and I'm like, to me, a lot of the future was cemented that night. I knew that Bright would do well. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I'm sitting there going, this is the future. This is how things are gonna happen."

"I mean, man, they're great marketers. Two weekends ago I parked in what's Lost in Space. It literally, Paul, it's Marvel and Netflix, and so the fact that I have one foot in one and one foot in the other is ... I just feel very fortunate, very fortunate, and like the behind the scenes is just ... the deals that you didn't do to get to this place, but nobody's interested in those. I'm looking out for my characters as best as I possibly can. I feel like Netflix is a great marriage for these characters."

On which characters/teams will be included in the Extreme Universe films:

"There's a group called Brigade. There's a group called Bloodstrike, and they are anchored by two ... which I think is a unique relationship in comics. There's a character called John Stone, who in the comics is called John Battlestone, and his brother Cabbot Stone, and they are the Cain and Abel of my universe. Even back in the '90s, I'm like, 'Well, how can we export something that no one's really done with these two brothers who helm these giant organizations?' One is kind of a rogue vigilante group, headed by John Stone. John Stone's like one of the most important characters in the Extreme Universe. He, outside of Brigade and also being the brother of the guy that leads Bloodstrike, he was an original member in the Youngblood comic, but his first appearance was in Brigade, but we built out his backstory, but he's touched everything in the Extreme Universe. He's been around a long time, he's seen and done a lot of stuff, some of which he regrets terribly, and so Brigade is his way of dealing with how he decides to mete out justice. He, ironically, does not trust the government, thinks they don't have the people's best interest at heart, so he runs his own rouge faction, while his brother heads up a faction dedicated to stopping people like him."

"So, it's a great kind of dichotomy between the two characters. They are on opposite ends, and have this blood between them. The first big crossover we did with them was called Blood Brothers. We will definitely examine that relationship, because Cabbot Stone is only alive because his brother submitted him to the program that would give him his life back, but it came at a cost, and he hates his brother because of it, and they, again, you go back to they both helm these giant organizations that have technology and powers and influence, and they are the two cornerstones of the universe. Again, I don't know off the top of my head if I can find a Cain and Abel archetype but like we built with them over the last 20 years."

"And on both teams are wonderful characters. Again, great powers, great conflicts. That's what this stuff is all about. I mean, again, character, character, character. If you don't care about them, you're not gonna care what they do, so it's just funny the distrust of the government was what I based almost all my early books on in Extreme, 'cause obviously I wasn't gonna do a group of mutant rebels. That was my Marvel calling card."

*Note - Liefeld clarified that neither Supreme nor Youngblood would be part of this as they are Image-owned properties.

Liefeld on the themes of the Extreme Universe and working with Akiva Goldsman:

"The distrust of the government has become what we interact with every day, right. I mean, it's like every single day. So, I'm like, 'Oh, I can't wait to do this.' Imagine all these different factions of power and they had access to different levels of superpowered operatives. You know, I mean, I think there's a lot of meat on that bone to examine. So, again, Akiva has an Academy Award on his mantle for A BEAUTIFUL MIND, which I don't have, so I listen to a lot of what he says. I think it's great. He is really into this. People also don't understand Akiva was behind Fringe. He was a producer on Fringe, which was show that I absolutely adored for years. He's a real fan of genre, superheroes, sci-fi, so it's just great."

Liefeld on how comic creators have finally been able to harness their voice in the film & TV industry:

"And I'll be honest, Paul, again, I mean just like I have to pass their test, they have to pass mine, and if I even glimpse insincerity, I just check out now, 'cause I'm too damn old. I don't care. I'll just draw ... I'll go draw. Like, while I've been talking to you, I've drawn a page for my upcoming Deadpool graphic novel, and I mean, this is what I do. I've been doing this for ... do this, do comics, and now, though, the real interesting thing that I've picked up on, the comic people didn't use to have a voice in the room. Even 10 years ago they didn't have a voice in the room."

"But we have made ourselves known, and our fans have let them know. Social media has been terrific in kind of helping us deliver our message, so it's great that now we have such a ... we have so much ability to influence, and like I said, there were other deals that were close, and I mean I made certain they did not go through, because they were bad marriages. It's never too late to pull out of something you don't think that's going right, especially when there's no signatures, and the fact that we were able to turn into Netflix is just like such a huge win."

DEADPOOL 2 hits theaters this week.

Source: JoBlo.com



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