Warner Bros. has picked up Michael B. Jordan's newest starring vehicle called Just Mercy. Jordan's star is rapidly rising as he continues to emerge as one of Hollywood's finest young actors, and he will almost certainly see his profile raised even more when he makes his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut as Erik Killmonger in next February's Black Panther. He is also starring in a TV adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 in 2018, in addition to reprising his role as Adonis Johnson in Creed 2 next November.
Jordan has consistently landed major roles since his breakthrough performance in 2013's Fruitvale Station, becoming more and more of a leading man with each film. He will get his latest stab at a lead role in a new legal drama currently titled Just Mercy, Warner Bros. has just acquired the rights to produce the project.
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THR reported that WB has acquired Just Mercy from the floundering Broad Green Pictures, which shuttered its production division and laid off 15 employees in August. Director Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) is on board to direct the film, an adaptation of Bryan Stevenson's memoir of the same name. Just Mercy, which had been on Broad Green's slate since 2015, is expected to finally begin shooting in early 2018.
Just Mercy recounts the early days of Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit organization founded in 1994 dedicated to providing legal representation for underprivileged prisoners and those who may have been wrongfully accused of a crime or denied a fair trial. Stevenson remains the executive director to this day. The memoir details his first case in which he defended and eventually exonerated Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit and spent six years on death row before ultimately being released through previously suppressed evidence.
The film sounds like a great project for Jordan to sink his teeth into and show off his considerable acting chops. Reviews for the acclaimed source material, a New York Times bestseller, have compared its story to the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. McMillian's story may also draw comparisons to wrongfully convicted boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, whom Denzel Washington famously portrayed in 1999's The Hurricane. Just Mercy's powerful true story and resonant topics give it great potential to be one of 2018's standout films.
It remains to be seen how the project will be handled with WB now on production duties. The studio has recently been blamed in some circles for the critical and commercial troubles of tentpole Justice League, but with a number of other major successes in 2017, this "modestly budgeted" film is decidedly a quite different production altogether. There's also the chance that it turns out to be a by-the-numbers courtroom procedural that doesn't elevate itself above other cliched dramas, but having Jordan at the top of the cast is definitely a good start.
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Creed 2 (2018) release date: Nov 21, 2018