A lot of the time when a movie project fails to come to fruition, fans never really get to hear confirmation that the dream is dead, and are instead left to assume so after years of silence. In the case of comic book adaptations, however, there’s often a time limit on how long a film studio has to make use of the title’s rights before reverting back to the original owners (as was the case with Fox’s planned Daredevil reboot, failing to get off the ground in time to prevent the rights returning to Marvel).
It seems a similar situation has arisen with Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s comic book series Y: The Last Man, following protagonist Yorick Brown (who doesn’t have any superpowers, and doesn’t fight crime at night). The one thing that does make him special is the fact that he (along with his pet monkey, Ampersand) is the only survivor of a mysterious event that kills every warm-blooded male on the planet simultaneously. Sound like a story fit for film? We’ve got some bad news.
The film adaptation rights for Y: The Last Man were picked up several years ago (a decade, to be exact) by New Line Cinema and went through a series of writers and directors before finally settling with Dan Trachtenberg, best known for directing the impressive Portal fan film Portal: No Escape. Things were quiet for a whole year after Trachtenberg’s appointment, until Vaughan revealed in January that there were only a few months left before the rights would revert back to himself and Guerra.
Today, Trachtenberg confirmed the death of the project on Twitter with a matter-of-fact statement:
This news isn’t all that surprising; between Vaughan’s statement earlier this year and the news that Trachtenberg had signed on to direct a thriller called Valencia for Bad Robot, it was pretty clear that Y: The Last Man just wasn’t going to happen. While Trachtenberg was reluctant to say exactly what went wrong with the project (and had been an outspoken supporter of the series before landing the job), he did offer some details regarding what the movie would have been like if it had actually made it to the big screen.
When questioned by /Film about his experiences developing Y: The Last Man as a movie, Trachtenberg echoed the sentiments of many fans by claiming the comic book is better suited for adaptation into a long-form TV series (or even a miniseries) like The Walking Dead, rather than a two hour movie.
“Like everyone else who’s a fan of the series I had always wished it either remain in its comic book form. Or, if it must be made, a TV series would be the only thing that would suffice…
“We were in many ways quite faithful to the comic, though some characters were combined and some events re-arranged and some brief moments of action we dug into to create bigger action/adventure sequences… The script was essentially the first two trades. Taking inspiration from the original Star Wars (Episode 4) we wanted to tell a complete story… but not the whole story. Hoping that, in success, we could get to tell the rest of our serialized adventure.”
In lieu of a TV series it sounds like Trachtenberg and the film’s producers were targeting a franchise, which could have worked as a way to tell the whole story of Y: The Last Man without rushing through anything.
For better or worse those plans never worked out, but even if a TV or movie adaptation of Y: The Last Man doesn’t happen, at least we’ll always have the comics.