Watchmen producer Lloyd Levin is looking to give another epic comic book series the big-screen treatment. According to Variety, Levin has acquired the rights to Matt Wagner’s Mage – a reinterpretation of the King Arthur story where the main character, Kevin Matchstick, is essentially a stand-in for Wagner himself.
The Mage series has two volumes released so far, each consisting of 15 issues. Levin plans on adapting the first volume, The Hero Discovered but there’s no mention of whether he also owns the rights to the subsequent volume The Hero Defined or the planned final volume The Hero Denied.
In regards to what made him choose Mage, Levin says:
It has always been a favorite book of mine… It’s one of the great untapped comicbooks from the ’80s renaissance that also spawned “Watchmen” and “Batman: Dark Knight.”
15 issues is a lot of ground to cover in one film (to give you some idea, Watchmen was 12 issues), but Wagner himself believes that Levin is the right man for the job:
It’s great that Lloyd is taking on this material because his approach (to comicbooks) is to capture the essence of the original source material… The timing is good, too, because in the past, (filmmakers) tried to fix the material. Now they try to adhere to the material.
Mage was previously set-up at Spyglass with Zack Snyder attached to direct. Obviously Snyder’s got his hands full with Sucker Punch and Xerxes, so this will be a fresh start for the project. Levin will finance the development and production of the film before taking it to a studio for distribution – a move that will afford the filmmakers a level of creative freedom that is difficult to achieve under more conventional circumstances (i.e., studio meddling).
I’m a fan of Matt Wagner’s work and although it’s been a long time since I’ve flipped through either volume of Mage, I remember loving the way he incorporated elements of the King Arthur mythology and the twists he put on them. There were also references to other seminal works including Hamlet, Macbeth, and the Epic of Gilgamesh that all tied into Wagner’s tale seamlessly.
All in all, Mage is a fun story that has loads of potential as a feature film – and unlike Watchmen, you’d be hard-pressed to find a fan who would refer to it as “unfilmable”.