In Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' "Coward", the first volume of their "Criminal" comic book series, protagonist Leo has a certain set of rules that keep him from getting into trouble. Such rules are important to stick to for Leo, whose chances of getting into trouble are greatly magnified by the fact that he's a criminal with a talent for planning and executing major heists.
Since the launch of "Criminal" in 2006 the series has won the Eisner Award twice: for Best New Series in 2007 and for Best Limited Series in 2012. The success of the series did not go unnoticed, and in 2011 the story of "Coward" was optioned for the big screen by Hunting Lane Films.
Variety reports that things are moving ahead for Coward, as director Kim Jee-Woon is now attached to direct the project. Kim is best-known to American audiences for his recent action movie The Last Stand, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville but prior to that he was already well-known to fans of Korean cinema for films like the crazily fun 'oriental Western' The Good, the Bad, The Weird and ghostly horror A Tale of Two Sisters. With an eye for very distinct visuals, Kim seems like the perfect choice to bring out the pulp style of this comic book story.
Coward has been in development for a couple of years, with David Slade (Twilight: Eclipse) originally attached to direct it and Brubaker adapting his own comic into a screenplay. The lead role has not yet been cast, but in an interview with Variety Brubaker said that it will be an interesting role for whoever eventually takes it on:
“If Ryan Gosling hadn’t already been in ‘Drive,’ he’d be perfect (for the role of Leo). It’s a good role for any actor; about a guy who’s afraid to do things because of what’s inside of him. It’s a heist story, partly — it’s a lot of different crime stories wrapped in one, but heist stories are always exciting if they’re pulled off correctly.”
Coward producer Jamie Patricof (The Place Beyond the Pines) commented on the choice, saying that “Kim Jee-Woon is exactly the type of filmmaker with which we are looking to collaborate." Citing the director's history of creating "elevated genre films, set in interesting worlds," Patricof sounded pretty confident in Kim's ability to bring Brubaker's script to life, which hopefully means that we should see Coward moving into casting and production before too long.
Brubaker has also expressed delight at the choice of director. Speaking via e-mail to MTV, the writer gave the distinct impression that Kim was more or less his dream man for the job:
"My first reaction was shock. Because I love his work, and when [producers] Jamie [Patricof] and Lynette [Howell] sent me a short list of directors and I saw his name on it, I had to double-check he was really interested. Anyone who saw 'A Bittersweet Life' will know exactly why he's right for this movie."
"I just spent a week in LA going over Jee-Woon's notes with him and his translators and talking about all of that. I'm doing a bit of a polish on the script for him right now, actually, and we've discussed how the film will look and the tone. He's got a really cool vision for what he wants to do, and I imagine I'll be on set for as much of the shoot as I can be, in case there need to be changes made."
If you're a fan of Brubaker and Phillips' comic, tell us if you think Kim is a better choice to direct the story than Slade, and who the best actor to take on the lead role would be.
We'll keep you updated on Coward as development continues.