James Wan’s Malignant Man has a new director in Becca Thomas of Stranger Things fame. Wan has his fingers in so many cinematic pies at the moment, that it’s difficult to keep track of what projects are actually moving forward with his involvement. He is obviously hard at work currently directing Aquaman and overseeing the burgeoning shared universe of The Conjuring. But one long gestating production that had his name attached has just moved one step closer to being finally realized. That’s the film version of his comic book Malignant Man which has now been re-titled to just Malignant.
Malignant Man was a limited series comic book that Wan co-wrote in 2011 with Michael Alan Nelson, with artwork from Piotr Kowalski. It was a sci-fi thriller detailing the life of Alan Gates, a man with a diagnosis of a terminal form of cancer. However, the tumorous growth in his body actually saves his life and is revealed as a mysterious alien parasite with links to his family past. It also bestows him with supernatural powers as a hidden evil force rises in society, making him an incredibly unlikely superhero. A film version of the Boom! Studios comic was formally announced back in 2014. Nothing else was then heard for two years until director Brad Peyton was attached to the film. But since then Peyton moved on to filming Rampage and no further announcements were made, leaving it apparently in development hell.
However, THR now reports that the film has not only been re-titled to Malignant, but has also found itself a new director in the form of Becca Thomas, who has been tapped to shoot the movie, whilst Wan remains as a producer. Thomas is currently best known for directing an as-yet-unseen episode of season 2 of Stranger Things, but she also made the award-winning 2012 Indie Electrick Children. At one point she was also on track to film the live-action retelling of The Little Mermaid for Universal, although that now seemingly remains frozen in the development stage.
Boom! Studio’s Ross Richie and Stephen Christy are also producing with Wan, who is working via his Atomic Monster label. Zak Olkewicz wrote the script for the adaptation, and the film will be overseen by 20th Century Fox. The plot is slightly different to many of Wan’s other stories, with hints of They Live mixed in with horror and superhero tropes.
After such a long period in the development and planning stages, hopefully all the available elements of Malignant will now start to come together. Thomas is an interesting choice for director, and her Indie background and experience on Stranger Things will hopefully guide the film into becoming something other than just another superhero origin tale. The darker tone and offbeat details should at least be interesting, and hopefully the project will get to the filming stage this time. There are no details yet for a release date or casting, but we’ll bring you more news on Malignant as we get it.
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