Having spent a good chunk of his Oscar-nominated performance in Birdman railing against Hollywood's obsession with comic books movies, Michael Keaton's next major project is (drum roll please)...a comic book movie.
Joining the ranks of DC and Marvel's seemingly endless release schedules is Imagine Agents, a comic adaptation about a world where every child's imaginary friend actually exists. And sometimes, they're not so friendly. But at least a former Dark Knight stands between us and them.
It's been confirmed by THR that Michael Keaton will not only be starring in Imagine Agents, but is also attached to produce the adaptation. He's joined in that capacity by The Fifth Estate's Michael Sugar and Ross Richie of Boom!, the publishers of the comic. They'll be working alongside Boom!'s Stephen Christy and Anonymous Content's Eli Selden and Doug Wald as executive producers. All Imagine Agents needs now is a writer and director.
The source material has been described as a high-concept buddy cop story in a similar vein to Men In Black, centering on a clandestine organization that deals with bad imaginary entities. Dave Slatern, a cynical twenty-year veteran of the I.M.A.G.I.N.E organization (presumably the role Keaton will be filling, according to IGN) and Terry Snowgoose, the rookie archivist, are the pair forced to team up to combat those baddies. On the latter's first day, a routine operation spills over into something much, much bigger.
Originally the creation of writer Brian Joines and artist Bachan, the Imagine Agents film is currently set up with Fox. Boom! are currently on a movie adaptation roll, with the comic publisher's hit girl scout adventure Lumberjanes being optioned at Fox as well, in that case with Will Widger writing. Keaton's not doing badly either, the former Batman star flying high on the success of Birdman with a role in the King Kong reboot Skull Island. At time of writing he's filming The Founder, where he plays the lead part of McDonald's boss Ray Kroc.
Birdman has been a real boon for Keaton. The actor was mainly working on Pixar films like Toy Story 3 and Cars since his live-action career faltered following a string of high-profile failures, including Herbie: Fully Loaded and horror flick White Noise. He narrowly missed out on the lead role of Jack in TV series Lost, before his collaboration with Alejandro G Iñárritu finally put him back on the map. Previously, Keaton played the villain in the RoboCop remake, and he had a comedic role in 2010's The Other Guys.
Taking on a comic book adaptation after his Birdman character's many, varied qualms with the genre is ironic, but Imagine Agents sounds like a break from the usual superhero fare – described as a cross between Men In Black's action and the humour of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, it doesn't sound much like Batman V. Superman. Just so long as it doesn't end up like the similar-sounding R.I.P.D...
Imagine Agents is currently in development without a release date.