These days, it seems that most of the cards held by both Marvel and DC Comics have been laid out for the world to see; Marvel has been quite open about its shared universe plans, with Warner Bros. revealing their comic book movie slate up to the year 2020. A majority of DC's major roles have already been cast - set to debut in both Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad - but it seems there's more to the studio's plan than Justice League.
That's according to actor Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises), who has revealed that discussions have taken place about an in-development project with Warner Bros. and DC - while offering a cryptic tease sure to get even devoted comic fans scratching their heads.
Hardy is no stranger to DC's comic book universe, having played Batman villain Bane in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, and was poised to join their new shared universe as Suicide Squad's Rick Flag. He was unfortunately forced to drop out of the film due to scheduling conflicts, but Hardy explained in an interview with Collider that he may return to the world of DC Comics soon:
"I actually got something cooking with Warner Bros. which is also a comic book, it’s a DC thing which is kind of… It’s really good actually, it contains elements of all kinds of stuff. From Ocean’s Eleven, to Batman, you can get all the wrappers out and it would be a big, really cool, Technicolor, Pulp Fiction…It’s a psychological f***fest, it’s absolutely awesome. It’s as if you would take Transmetropolitan and make it happen, but it’s not that out there, it’s something which is much more real world. It could be like Heat, it could be f***ing awesome."
Taking Hardy at his word, the film being described is something of a 'psychedelic heist' story (making reference to both Ocean's Eleven and Heat) - perhaps with some governmental corruption or dystopic future (Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson's "Transmetropolitan"). That doesn't fit any announced DC film coming from WB, but it does sound like one Vertigo title confirmed to be in the works.
The comic in question is "FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics" from Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez. For comparison, "FBP" takes place in a near-future in which the laws of physics have begun to... well, disappear. Pocket mirror dimensions appear spontaneously above major cities (among other phenomena), and the title agency is sent in to solve the problem - and if necessary, rescue those innocents caught in its wake.
As compelling a premise as that may be, there are sure to be comic fans who would rather see an actor of Hardy's calibre tackle a certified superhero or anti-hero role, but his own comments seem to imply that the project is something of an experiment for the studio, and therefore less likely to be one of the announced shared universe films.
When Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Sandman film (also currently without a leading man) was not included in the slate of DC movies, the comic's creator Neil Gaiman explained that as a Vertigo title, the movie was part of "a different slate of films" - presumably just one of several Vertigo movies in development.
Now here's where things get interesting. Instead of simply guessing what the role was, as Hardy requested, the interviewer made the assumption that the film was not among those in the studio's announced slate. Hardy dismissed that idea, in as cryptic a way as possible:
"It's not even a movie. It’s already… It’s real estate, it’s PRIME real estate which is sitting there right under everybody’s nose that no one’s really thought about yet and it goes TV and movie, it’s awesome. I can’t believe that nobody has even –I know they thought of it but no one has actually blown life into it yet."
Trust us when we tell you that hours have already been spent trying to decipher exactly what Hardy is implying with the above statement. A traditional film is clearly ruled out, but that doesn't mean the project in question wasn't previously announced as such, but has since been changed into another format. That format is apparently "right under everybody's nose," unexplored in Hardy's eyes even as it relates to both "TV and movie."
His comments come at an interesting time, as Marvel's Daredevil has walked the line between film and TV by pursuing cinematic production values, but releasing in a serialized format via Netflix. For many, the quality and long form narrative was a stronger fit for a comic property than simple 2-hour film; it's plausible to think that DC - currently spreading to TV just as quickly as film - agrees.
Hardy's enthusiasm seems to be tied to something more substantial, though, focused on a project meant to truly succeed in a previously-unproven way. The most obvious "real estate" would be the Internet, but even if so, that's not the entire story. Could Warner Bros. consider adapting a promising property with a star at its center, planned to release online?
The online interest and discussion surrounding Daredevil's launch - and now, his viability as a film franchise - rivaled that of a Marvel film, but it will be difficult to ever know just what the studio gained from its deal with Netflix. That is: how profitable was the series in terms of dollars and cents, or, in this case, Netflix subscriptions? And if Warner Bros. were to similarly diversify their comic properties, would a Netflix middleman be needed?
Until more information or rumors being to slip out, Hardy's mysterious comments are all we have to go on. Even so, it's clear WB is thinking of trying something new, and Hardy seems to be more than ready to jump on board. If FBP really is the culprit, then his cryptic tease to Collider is even more tantalizing - since that was the comic series' original name.
Do you have any theories on the project, role, or new real estate Hardy is eyeing? We welcome any and all speculation, and will keep you up to date as more details arrive.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman - June 23rd, 2017; Justice League - November 17th, 2017; The Flash - March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman - July 27th, 2018; Shazam - April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 - June 14th, 2019; Cyborg - April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern - June 19th, 2020.