‘Zombieland’ Writers Adapting ‘Cowboy Ninja Viking’ Comics

by The Playlist
November 8, 2010 2:13 AM
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Screenwriters Update Status On 'Deadpool' & 'Zombieland 2'



If you thought "Cowboys & Aliens" was a weird and disparate nuts and gum-like concept, well you haven't seen nuthin' yet. "Zombieland" writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick -- quickly being pegged as the go-to guys for anything, weird, irreverent and out there -- have been tapped to write an adaptation of the comic, "Cowboy Ninja Viking" by Disney. Or rather Disney has picked up the pitch based on a graphic novel by AJ Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo, published last year by Image Comics.

The comic centers on a multiple personality disorder patient who is trained to have skills that mix, yup, ninja stealth techniques, cowboy bravery and gunslinging, plus Viking-like brawn, ruthlessness and valor. It sounds more than a little "Wolverine"-ish -- at least like his "X-Men Origins" storyline -- as this triple-threat assassin comes back to look for revenge on the shadowy organization that trained him and made him who he was (arguably that's Jason Bourne-ish too). Official graphic novel synopsis below the jump.

The American cowboy, the ninja, and the Viking form a triumvirate of toughness seldom equaled in world-to say nothing of pop culture-history. Each is superbad in his own right, but what about when the most deadly attributes of each can be found in one man? Duncan is such a man, the result of a secret government program to create soldiers for the war on terror. This experimental regimen conscripts people suffering from multiple personality disorder and turns them into "triplets," highly lethal operatives possessing three distinct personalities drawing from warrior/tough guy archetypes. Duncan serves as the reader's entry point into a complex web of espionage and violence that grows more intriguing as we are let in on exactly what's up with Duncan, the people who want to drag him back into the fold, and the rest of the triplets that remain at large. Lieberman crafts a tight and darkly funny plot while Rossmo's scratchy linework perfectly captures the jangled psychological state of its protagonist. This is one of those series whose title alone practically heralds outright narrative stupidity, but it's far more odd and entertaining than expected.

Ever since "Zombieland" became a surprise hit, Reese and Wernick (along with director Ruben Fleischer) have become hot properties. They've been pegged to write the script for "Deadpool," are writing Paramount’s sequel to "G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra" (though that one seems to be going nowhere so far), plus they also have a "Zombieland 2" script in the works. The writers recently sat down with Io9 and gave a statue update on both the "Zombieland" sequel and "Deadpool" projects, the latter of which does not have Robert Rodriguez attached as the director, but will star Ryan Reynolds, and may have a new up and coming Swedish commercial filmmaker Adam Berg on board instead.

"Zombieland 2" is scheduled to film, when it eventually does, in 3D, but the writers seem to be looking forward to the opportunities the stereoscopic visual will afford them. "In some cases, 3D is just a gimmick, but in a movie like Zombieland, there are plenty of opportunities to use it in fun and creative ways," Reese said noting that the original characters will return, plus will be joined by new survivors that they meet along the way. "We're making Z2 a bigger movie. Everything will happen on a grander scale!"

As for the "Merc with the Mouth" -- i.e. the irreverent, fast-talking, pop-culture referencing Deadpool character -- they're turned in two drafts so far and are waiting to see if Berg gets the gig or not so they can proceed. The writer also said his origin story was also an important goal. "Ultimately, I think despite how fun he is in the now, we really did want to explore how he became that way and why he became that way, we definitely delve into that, "Reese said. "He's a warped character, and that's why he's so fun to write. Various writers have tackled him and I think that particular club of people have always enjoyed being able to just go places with a character that you wouldn't be able to go with any other character. Because he's completely crazy. That's the joy of writing him. You don't have to place any limits on decorum, or what might pop into his head, what reference he might make to pop culture. He'll go anywhere and say anything and that's the joy of writing him. So we really enjoy that but we also did enjoy exploring a little bit of his origin."

Reese also has completed a new horror novel called, "Anxiety." Whether that turns into a film or not is unclear, but given how hot he and Wernick are, it would be foolish to think that some producer isn't looking at the galleys as we speak. [Deadline]

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