Columbia Pictures has announced its acquisition of the indie comic book The Boys to be developed by producer Neal H. Moritz.
The comic series centers on a group of CIA operatives who are tasked with policing the world’s superheroes. The superpowered heroes of the world aren’t always as noble and heroic as their public images would lead people to believe, so it falls on the group to take extreme actions when the caped adventurers step out of line. The series was created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson. The two had previously created the fan favorite series Transmetropolitan.
The development and final version of this project should be interesting. Ennis stated when the book launched that he intended to “out-Preacher Preacher” in terms of what he what he could get away with, content-wise. Ennis’ popular and ground-breaking Preacher, which told the story of a man who receives the power of the offspring of an angel and a demon which he uses to hunt down an absentee God, has been in the development pipeline for years, often stalling because of its controversial religious themes. It is now in development over at HBO.
While The Boys doesn’t have any religious themes, it does expand on Preacher’s violence level as well as its depictions of depraved human behavior. Originally published under DC Comic’s Vertigo imprint, the same folks who published Preacher, The Boys was cut loose last year after it proved to be more than what management had anticipated. Since the property is jointly owned by Ennis and Robertson, the pair were able to find a new home for the series at Dynamite Entertainment, where it is enjoying good sales.
Translated verbatim, The Boys’ violence and deviant behavior would almost assuredly earn the film a hard R rating, perhaps even an NC-17. The last issue I read had a superhero basically schtupp an asteroid until it exploded, saving the Earth. Hardly the material to garner an audience maximizing PG or PG-13 rating that studios like so much.