Over this past weekend, Valiant Comics and DMG Entertainment announced that they had a “nine figure” deal for funding to create a Valiant Cinematic Universe. Or at least I think they get nine figures. The press release was packed with so much inside baseball jargon that I could write you an 8000-word analysis of advanced outside baseball statistics and it would be easier to wade through. It’s the perfect combination of marketing, finance and movie industry buzzwords that amounted to “these dudes just gave us a shitload of money to make superhero movies as long as we release them in China at the same time.”
Aaaaaaanyway, press release sarcasm aside, it looks like we’re getting a Valiant movie universe! And that’s pretty cool, because they’ve got some awesome books that we’d love to see as movies. Here are eleven Valiant movies I can’t wait for.
1. Quantum & Woody
Quantum & Woody is a typical buddy cop movie, only in superhero comic form. Eric and Woody Henderson, adopted brothers, are the children of a super-scientist whose work in experimental energy research got him killed. While they were investigating his murder, they stumbled into one of his experiments and gained energy based powers, each stuck with one half of a pair of
negabands metal wristbands on an arm. If they don’t bang their wristbands together once a day, they die.
It’s routinely one of the funniest comics on the stands, so if you can’t make Quantum & Woody work as a buddy comedy on the big screen, stop making movies. It has everything that you could want from a great summer comedy – action, evil French-Canadians, sexy ferrets, and a pregnant, talking male goat with the power to destroy the Earth. I’ll be there for the midnight showing in full, expensive goat cosplay gear.
2. X-O Manowar
Valiant already had four movies in early development before this deal was announced – Bloodshot, Archer & Armstrong, Harbinger, and Shadowman. I’m astonished that X-O Manowar wasn’t, too. Aric’s story has been fairly central to the Valiant Universe since it relaunched.
X-O Manowar is the story of Aric, a Visigoth prince kidnapped from Rome some 1500 years ago by an alien race, The Vine. He escapes, steals a super-powered, sentient, semi-organic armor and returns home to find himself in the today. Time dilation sucks. Thanks, Einstein. Aric’s story is pretty easy to imagine as a movie. You can get an easy three genres into one movie – a swordsy, Game of Thronesish fantasy movie; a fish out of water, present day action flick; and a sci-fi, John Carter-but-people-like-it space adventure.
3. Eternal Warrior
Gilad Anni-Padda is an immortal tactical genius tasked with defending the Geomancers, who are avatars of Earth. In almost every major conflict in the world’s history, he’s managed to find his way into it, and he’s gained invaluable combat experience and knowledge because of it. He’s 10,000 years old, super strong, is extremely tough to harm and recovers fairly well from any damage that might be inflicted on him.
This movie is a piece of cake. All you have to do is plop Conan the Barbarian in whatever historical conflict you want, and you can use Gilad’s story to seed the whole Valiant movie universe. His constant conflict with the Immortal Enemy, his evil opposite number who reincarnates rather than regenerates and tries to kill every Geomancer, serves as a nice underpinning for the whole comic universe, and I can’t imagine that the movies will do it much differently. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s got a couple of important siblings still floating around the world 10,000 years later. One of them is Armstrong, the drunker half of Archer & Armstrong. The other fights time-travelling Internet trolls.
4. Ivar, Timewalker
Remember when everybody was freaking out about the Large Hadron Collider maybe destroying the solar system? According to Valiant, the only reason it didn’t was the Eternal Warrior’s big brother.
Ivar, Timewalker stars Ivar Anni-Padda, who has the power to see “time arcs,” places where it’s possible to jump from one time period to another. He’s not the only person who can jump around in time, though – he’s always ending up in the conflict of the day, often times against history hackers, humans from the 300th century who have merged with sentient social networks, trying to disrupt the past for the lulz. The combination of internet humor and time travel humor made the first two issues of the latest volume of Ivar absolutely perfect, and there’s no reason why the movie version wouldn’t have some variation on Godwin’s Lulz in it. Imagine how pissed people would be to have the good guy in a movie shout “LET’S NOT KILL HITLER.”
Speaking of time wonkiness, Rai is set in Japan in the year 4001, when it has turned into an orbiting pillar stratified by class and essentialness. It’s your typical cyberpunk utopia – rigid conformity is the rule of the day, and it isn’t until someone on the island is murdered (the first murder in a millenium) that the order is genuinely threatened.
There have only really been a handful of universally praised cyberpunk movies: Blade Runner, Total Recall, 12 Monkeys, the first Matrix. There are a bunch of others that I liked, but Rai is the opportunity to use the superhero movie zeitgeist to kick off a run of cyberpunk movies that might finally get us a decent Neuromancer adaptation.
Nevermind the fact that Rai can and should be a pretty great movie in its own right. The new series’ character designs alone are outstanding. It’s bright and colorful and imaginative, and in movie form, it should brush right up against the line between “colorfully insane” and “brain-melting sensory overload” for the viewer if it’s going to capture the spirit of the comic. But if you’re going to go to a movie about cyberpunk future Japan, you’re probably going to want to double up on the seizure meds before you see it.
6. The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage
Shan Fong-Mirage is a parapsychologist who can talk to the dead, but she can’t find her dead husband’s ghost. It’s a fairly simple story hook with a hundred different possibilities for execution.
First of all, the visuals in a Dr. Mirage movie should be nuts. Anytime there’s the opportunity to depict the afterlife, there are almost no limits to what can be put on the screen. The recent miniseries sent Shan through hell while a team of assassins tried to take her body out, so it’s got a little military drama mixed in with the trek through the underworld.
Valiant’s history also lets you do two versions of Dr. Mirage. You can have Shan, the lady Dr. Mirage from the recent comic; and you can have the guy version from OG Valiant. That way, you can satisfy all those corners of the Internet that are so pissed about the Matriarchy stealing all the good comedy roles that should, by all rights, go to gifted comedic performers like Josh Gad.
Colin King is a spy and a ninja working for MI-6.
I shouldn’t really have to say more than that to convince people that Ninjak should be a good movie, right? Like, “Imagine the one-take fight on the stairs from The Protector but with James Bond in it too” isn’t enough? I mean, I’m going to need a second and probably a cold shower before I can continue writing.
Okay. Ninjak has been running around other peoples’ books in the new Valiant comics universe since fairly early on, and only just this week got his own book to star in. He’s arguably the deadliest person on the Earth, and that includes hordes of time travellers, immortals, and actual superheroes and oh God imagine the fight with Baseball Boy in the hallway from The Raid 2 but with sexy younger Sean Connery I’LL BE RIGHT BACK.
This is easily the most experimental comic that Valiant is publishing. Abram Adams is a cosmonaut sent into space by the Soviet Union at the height of the cold war. His mission is to travel to the edge of the galaxy in stasis and then :exaggerated stage shrug: eeh? It’s kind of like the time I pulled a recently fixed pipe out of a urinal at school: the Russians just wanted to see what would happen.
And like me, they weren’t around to see the result, but (this is where the Soviet experience and mine diverge) when Abram returns, he appears to be a god. He is, for all intents and purposes, Dr. Manhattan. It’s still very early in the series, so there’s a lot more story to go before we get an idea of the big picture, but it looks like [spoiler alert, even though it’s only actually speculation and I can’t really spoil anything because I don’t know]he had a run in with The Vine, the folks who made the X-O armor, and came back with his perception completely different. The first issue makes it look like his consciousness can exists simultaneously at every point in time for his whole existence, which provides whoever would make this movie with a huge opportunity.
One of the places where Zack Snyder’s Watchmen failed (besides “in having a point”) was showing Dr. Manhattan’s skewed understanding of reality. Much of our awareness is based on sequence. How would we see things differently if we spread our consciousness throughout our lifespan? Would you be so quick to condemn the meaningless Watchmen movie if you were still only 6 and it hadn’t come out yet? Probably, yes, but it’s still worth exploring.
9 and 10: Unity and Imperium
This one is kind of a cheat. Harbinger is currently in development, based off of the comic about Toyo Harada, a rich dude with powers who’s also secretly a bad guy in a kind of grey area. He has a specific idea for mankind’s future, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get there. This ended up in a big, messy, public war that exposed Harada as an outright villain.
And then it twisted, and in the current incarnation of the Valiant Universe, Harada brought together a team of ex-enemies – Ninjak, the Eternal Warrior, Harada himself and his former right hand woman Livewire all came together to stop Aric from X-O Manowar from taking over all of Eastern Europe. Shortly thereafter, he went right back to his plan to build his future world with no regard for the cost in money, lives or destruction.
These go together because I’m not sure if they’d be stand-alone movies. They’re a lot closer to Harbinger 2 and 3 rather than their own distinct series, but they’re both great concepts for movies. Unity could be a Suicide Squad-style team up, while Imperium is another story with foggy morality and ambiguous protagonists. Who knows if the long-predicted superhero movie collapse will have happened by the time we get a third Harbinger movie, but who cares? I am now an adult, living in a time when there is a superhero movie planned to come out every four months for the next five years. The future is a MAGICAL place.
11. The Valiant
The obvious culmination of the budding movie universe is Valiant’s Avengers, The Valiant. This is the book where everyone – Bloodshot, Archer, Armstrong, the Eternal Warrior, the Geomancer, Ninjak, Quantum, Woody, their goat dad, Punk Mambo, Dr. Mirage, Ivar, literally everybody who’s ever been a good guy in a Valiant comic – gets together to fight The Immortal Enemy in his latest reincarnation. His latest form is, by the way, Groot dressed like an evil clown. No nightmare fuel there or anything.
The writing on The Valiant is an outstanding foundation to build the movie off of. The budding relationship between Bloodshot and the Geomancer is great, and she’s a perfect point-of-view character to tell this big, sprawling team-up to the world. I only wish they could find a way to make the whole movie out of Paolo Rivera’s art, but making that poor guy hand-animate a two-hour movie, while satisfying for me, is probably considered against the Geneva Conventions.
Previously by Jim Dandeneau
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