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Whatever Happened To The Much-Hyped Possibility Of A 'Martha Washington' Big-Screen Adaptation?

by Emmanuel Akitobi
January 27, 2013 1:24 PM
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Martha Washington

Back in 2008, there was talk of bringing comic book/graphic novel legends Dave Gibbons and Frank Miller’s comic book character Martha Washington to the big screen.  Could it still happen?

Martha Washington first appeared in 1990 in the Dark Horse-published comic book Give Me Liberty, where her story begins in the squalid corridors of a maximum-security housing project, where a young girl will rise from the war-torn streets of Chicago to battle injustice in a world insane with corruption. She will be called a hero, a traitor, and nearly everything in between, but all along the way, her courage, her integrity, and her unwavering commitment to that most valuable of rights -- liberty -- will inspire a movement that will never surrender.”

Gibbons and Miller would revisit the character for the titles/series Martha Washington Goes To War; Happy Birthday, Martha Washington; Martha Washington Stranded In Space; Martha Washington Saves The World; and Martha Washington Dies.

Martha Washington3

What we know:

In late 2008, writer Miller expressed his desire to see his and illustrator Gibbons’ collaborative effort, the story of Martha Washington, get the screen treatment. MTV quoted Miller as saying, "It's just a matter of finding the right venue, because 'Martha Washington' isn't a movie, it's a series," he said. "It would have to be like 12 episodes to fit the whole story in. I would not let it be truncated."  That got comic book fans buzzing, crossing their fingers in the hope that Miller's dream would become reality.

What eventually happened:

Nothing, as far as I can tell.  In July 2009, it was reported that Miller’s top choice to play Martha Washington on film would be actress Rosario Dawson.  Public reaction to that news was mixed.  And there have been little to no new developments since that time.

So I’m now wondering if the project is dead, or if there is still hope that this popular female African-American comic book character’s story could one day be told on the big-screen (or maybe as a cable series?).  And if so, which actress would be best suited to embody Martha Washington?  Should they go big-name, or up and coming talent?  Here are a few of my own picks, in no particular order:

1) Kandyse McClure;  2) Shareeka Epps;  3) Lisa Berry;  4) Rutina Wesley;  5) Estella Daniels

Martha Washington2

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  • Garred | May 31, 2013 9:22 AMReply

    How about Thandie Newton for this role?

  • Miles Ellison | February 16, 2013 4:54 PMReply

    The studio either couldn't figure out how to cast the latest white "It Girl" as Martha Washington or how to grotesquely caricature the character for any black actress that might be miraculously chosen to play the role.

  • MouthAllMighty | January 30, 2013 2:09 AMReply

    The honest problem is that the Martha Washington character doesn't carry enough comic book weight to merit the budget it would take to make an animated movie or full length film good and marketable. I've been reading comic for well over 35 yrs and the truth is the only black characters that stand a chance are The Black Panther or Luke Cage! Hollywood has already destroyed the Storm character from the X-Men by casting Hally Berry when the wisest choose would have simply been to go get Iman Abdulmajid! She looks just like the comic character and would have been able to walk into the role a seamlessly as Patrick Stewart walked into the Professor X role. The bottom line is that very few black characters are created with the same enthusasim as white characters and their are very few that have grown and gained fans as strong as a character like Spider-man .

  • D. Fran | January 29, 2013 2:50 PMReply

    Did you do any reporting outside Google?

  • Deborah | January 28, 2013 11:20 PMReply

    An animated series like the short-lived "Black Panther: The Animated Series" (?) would be Brillant!! Only better this time! The ability to fully follow the story of Martha Washington would only be limited by the director's and animator's imagination. The voice talent could be fantastic. Shoot, if Wonder Woman ( my second favorite Woman after Martha) could have an animated film, not to mention any Male Superhero, why not Martha Washington?

  • Eliza A | January 28, 2013 9:18 PMReply

    I would pick Danai Gurira for the role

  • Troy | January 28, 2013 8:15 PMReply

    How about a real bad ass black woman. Like the first black female to win a gold medal in boxing. Or go with a regular actress who will always be completely unbelievable as an action star. Only women believe women in action movies look tough and believable. Men just are turned on.

  • Kearny | February 4, 2013 8:52 AM

    Take a moment to really think about it before you shoot down this suggestion . . . but what about Tyler Perry?

  • Neville | January 31, 2013 9:25 PM

    How about a 16-year-old newcomer as Martha, since Martha herself was 16 when she joined PAX (much like how Daniel Radcliffe was only 12-13 when he was cast as Harry Potter?) That would work better than getting a grown woman to play a teenage girl-after all, that's how the recent version of True Grit was made, and it rocked the world something fierce. Let's not have the same old thing happen again.

  • Katie G. | January 28, 2013 3:02 PMReply

    This role is perfect for Zoe Saldana. Have you seen her in a film called Colombiana?

  • Serena | January 29, 2013 12:21 PM


  • Winston | January 28, 2013 2:57 PMReply

    Jasmine Burke would be a good choice!

  • Micah | January 27, 2013 10:35 PMReply

    I don't who any of these actresses are so I'm going by looks alone. My choices are Lisa Berry or Rutina Wesley.

  • Tau I. Robinson-Farrar | January 27, 2013 2:26 PMReply

    I'm being honest right now, I hope Frank Miller doesn't do anything with it. Like ever. This is because I actually want to buy the rights to it and make into an animated film short film before I graduate from college.

    The first time I was introduced to Martha Washington was when I was in middle school. I was looking through some old comics that my grandmother's boyfriend tenant had left behind after he moved to another apartment. The minute I saw the fist volume of "Give Me Liberty" I feel in love with it. It was so strange and controversial. I had never seen a science fiction graphic novel about a African American before.

  • Tau I. Robinson-Farrar | February 6, 2013 7:30 PM

    @Neville. Don't take this the wrong way but f**k you. Your a f**king hater and your not going to mess up my goals in life with you negativity. I'm going to purchase the rights and make that film. You don't know me. I can actually do this. I can actually make Give Me Liberty.

  • Neville | January 31, 2013 9:28 PM

    Sorry Tau, but I disagree highly with this; I think that a project like Give Me Liberty would be beyond you alone even as an animated film. Also, this is Miller's character, so it should be done by Miller or somebody connected with Miller.

  • Micah | January 27, 2013 10:29 PM

    Ava has a point about it being worth looking into. Who knows, your animated project may actually inspire someone to do something about the live action version.

  • Ava | January 27, 2013 6:56 PM

    @Tau, you should really find out the status of this project, if you have a burning desire to do it because there is a very real chance that someone could have already purchased the rights to do a film, even if the project is 'sitting' on the shelf at the moment. Rights, however, do not last forever, especially if nothing is done with them. I don't know whether there is any distinction between rights to do animated vs. live action film, but there must be some way for you to find out the status. Give it a try.

  • Humming Loon | January 27, 2013 2:19 PMReply

    That would be TOO awesome! This is a great series with great artwork. Martha is strong, but human and she does save the world. The entire series are also condensed into one collection making for a great seemless read.

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