A film adaptation of Vertigo Comics’ Preacher graphic novel line has be inching along through 13 years of development hell. An announcement has come today that might make it seem that journey is close to an end. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.
D.J. Caruso, director of the current#3 film in America, I Am Number Four, announced via Twitter that he is officially signed on to direct the adaptation of the Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon comic series.
That “going back to the dark side” comment is interesting. The darkest film of his career was 2002’s The Salton Sea, but as of late he has been more known for popcorn thrillers like Disturbia and Eagle Eye. His experience in this genre of film has caused a bit of naysaying along the Internet (CHUD.com titles its coverage of this news “DJ Caruso Determined To Make Preacher Lame“) and Caruso’s flirtation with the dark side has never quite gotten this dark.
Created in 1995, Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a Texas preacher who is possessed by a supernatural entity that is the offspring of a demon and an angel. This possession gives Custer the ability to force any human to do whatever Custer wants as long as Custer says the words. Custer’s new powers compels him to go on a search for God, who has abandoned Heaven when the spirit inside Custer was born. Custer is joined on his quest by his ex-girlfriend Tulip O’Hare and an Irish vampire named Cassidy.
The series was full of pitch-black humor and extreme violence–usually going hand in hand. It is also known for it’s hard-hitting examination of religious themes. Besides the absentee god, there is also the inbred offspring of Jesus, various fallen angels, and more blasphemy than you can shake a stick at.
This approach to religion has been rumored to be the main cause of Preacher’s slow journey to the screen. The graphic novel was first optioned way back in 1998 and names such as Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier, The Weinstein Brothers, Jason Marsden, Mark Steven Johnson, Sam Mendes, and John August have been attached to the project over the years. The film version has moved from Miramax Films to Columbia Pictures, and, for a brief time, an HBO series was planned. Many of the speed bumps along the way were rumored to be due to the fact that a suit got skittish over the irreverent take on the Christian dogma.
Caruso was once attached to helm another Vertigo adaptation, Y: The Last Man. He would often express when that project came up in interviews that he wanted to do justice to the original book. One assumes that we can expect the same here. Of course, that is if the studio doesn’t get to scared by the almost certain firestorm of controversy that would develop once the film hits theaters and either asks for plot changes or scraps the project once again.