JMS on Shadowman and Doing Superhero Movies Right

JMS on Shadowman and Doing Superhero Movies Right

What comparison can be drawn between the Green Lantern movie and the forthcoming Shadowman film?

J. Michael Straczynkski is that rare breed of writer who has seen success in comics, television and film. So, as he takes on Valiant’s recently relaunched character, Shadowman, he has some very specific ideas on how to do it right.

Let’s back up a moment. Shadowman saw a great deal of success in the early ’90s as one of the few African-American heroes in comics. Unfortuantely, due to constant rewrites to the character, sales dwindled, and, despite a relatively succesful videogame spinoff series, the character, like Valiant itself, eventually was no more. Fortunately, due to Valiant Comics resurgence, the character has found new life, one that combines jazz, voodoo, spirtualism and a killer setting in New Orleans.

Not satisfied to leave it at comics, though, Valiant wants to create a Shadowman film, and they tapped Straczynski to write it. But JMS likes to do things his way. Thankfully, it seems Valiant is game to follow where Straczynski leads.

We had talked about the difference between the ‘Shadowman’ movie and the ‘Shadowman’ comic, and the good thing is that the folks involved understand that there’s a difference between a movie and a comic book. There were times when they said, ‘We’re doing this in the book, does it work for you in the movie?’ Some things did work and we’re going to carry them over, and some things did not and I said, ‘We have to leave that out.

And JMS is right — adaptation from one format to another requires rethinking the best way to retell a story in a different way and for a, potentially, different audience. Straczynski was quick to point to the Green Lantern movie as an example for how not to make a film adaptation of a comic book.

In the Green Lantern movie, you want to make this character special, one of a kind, the bravest guy on the planet, and then put him on a planet with 10,000 just like him. The fan part said, ‘We should have the whole Green Lantern Corps there.’ Someone should have said, no, the movie side say, ‘Keep him on his own. Don’t bring them in yet. Let’s make him special on his own first, then, two movie down the road, we’ll bring in the whole Corps.

With that in mind, JMS has a trilogy of films in his head that he wants to make, but he feels the first should focus almost entirely on Shadowman before delving too far into his universe.

Straczynski is working on the script now, and filming is due to begin at the beginning of 2014.

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