Nicolas Winding Refn recently followed up his Drive success by collaborating with leading man Ryan Gosling once more on Only God Forgives, an action thriller set in the world of Thai boxing. The film premiered at Cannes this year, and while it may not have walked away with the Palme d’Or it certainly made waves, leaving critics sharply divided in their assessment of it. Some described it as a masterpiece, others vehemently dismissed it as offensive trash, but there was almost unanimous agreement on the fact that Only God Forgives is superlatively violent, to the point that a significant number of audience members walked out in disgust before the end.
Since one of the other common criticisms of Only God Forgives was that it was too similar to Drive, perhaps it’s for the best that Refn has elected to take a very different direction with his next film project. He was originally planning to direct an adaptation of William F. Nolan’s science fiction novel Logan’s Run, which was originally adapted for the screen in 1976, but since Ryan Gosling has dropped out of playing the lead role the entire project seems to be on hold.
Whether Logan’s Run will remain in hiatus indefinitely, or whether Refn is still attached to the project at all, remains unclear, but the writer-director is now turning his attention to another sci-fi adaptation. In an interview with France Inter, Refn revealed that his next project would be an adaptation of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius’ comic book series The Incal.
Originally released in the ’80s and ’90s as a 12-issue series (which were recently collected for publication in a single volume), The Incal is similar to other dystopian cyberpunk comics like Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan. It follows the life of private investigator John DiFool, an anti-hero born in the lower levels of the City Shaft, upon whom it is widely conjectured (to the point that Jodorowsky once attempted to sue Luc Besson for plagiarism) that Korben Dallas in The Fifth Element is based. The comic book series is unashamedly weird and often brutal, making it a good fit for Refn’s directing style.
This isn’t the first time that Refn has planned to adapt a sci-fi comic book series. He’s currently attached to executive produce and direct a TV show based on Barbarella, and recently explained that the series is still at the writing stage (Neal Purvis and James Wade (Skyfall) are scripting).
The Incal has received much praise from critics, but is little-known to North American comic book fans. For those who have read it, do you approve of this directing choice, or are you just hoping that a film adaptation will bring more attention to Jodorowsky and Moebius’ original work?