Annihilation director Alex Garland says, if given a chance, he would like to direct a “proper” movie version of DC’s Swamp Thing. The half-man/half-plant “elemental” creature Swamp Thing first appeared in 1971 from creators Lein Wein and Bernie Wrightson. However, the character took on its most familiar form much later under writer Alan Moore. Swamp Thing possesses superhuman healing due to his ability to reconstruct his own body using available vegetable matter. A later run of Swamp Thing books by Mark Millar gave him command over the elements fire, earth, water and air.
Swamp Thing first came to the big screen in 1982 with Wes Craven’s cult movie of the same name. Ray Wise played scientist Alec Holland, who becomes transformed into Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) after his evil colleague Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) sabotages a lab experiment. The hideous-looking but kindly Swamp Thing teams up with Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) to battle Arcane. A low-budget sequel The Return of the Swamp Thing came out in 1989. Reboot plans have been kicked around since at least 2010 when Splice director Vincenzo Natali was attached. However, legal issues stopped progress on the planned film.
During his recent Reddit AMA, Alex Garland (going under the Reddit handle Alex_Garland) was asked by a fan what comic book characters he would like to tackle in movie form if given the opportunity. Garland named only one character: Swamp Thing. See the exchange below.
With comic book movies dominating at the box office, the time seems right for a new take on Swamp Thing. In fact, Joseph Kahn recently released test footage showing Swamp Thing concept art he included as part of an early Justice League Dark pitch. Guillermo Del Toro also recently revealed that he wanted to highlight Swamp Thing’s relationship with Abigail Holland as part of his own Justice League Dark idea. Del Toro really likes romance between human women and monsters, as he proved with his Oscar-nominated The Shape of Water. Justice League Dark itself continues through the long process of development, so perhaps Swamp Thing will still make it to the screen via that avenue.
Garland’s own current movie Annihilation features Natalie Portman battling swamp things of a different kind. In the film, biologist Portman and her team encounter mutants inhabiting an environmental disaster zone called The Shimmer. Garland’s prior writing credits include Dredd, the 2012 comic book adaptation that in the minds of fans righted the wrongs of Sylvester Stallone’s god-awful Judge Dredd film. Also on the genre end of things, Garland wrote the Danny Boyle zombie film 28 Days Later. Incidentally, in his AMA, Garland told fans he doesn’t believe the rumored sequel 28 Weeks Later will ever happen.
Given his particular experience, perhaps Garland is the perfect person to make the definitive Swamp Thing movie. Or perhaps he could even be the man to pull together Justice League Dark? In the meantime, Garland will develop a new eight-episode science-fiction series for FX, details of which are presently under wraps.
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