For those devoted members of the graphic novel community, the idea of a big screen adaptation of Y: The Last Man has been a no-brainer since it was first conceived. It has everything a good blockbuster needs: a young male lead, a nearly all-female cast, an apocalyptic-like setting, and even a monkey sidekick. So watching the project stall over the past few years was disheartening to comic book fans and movie buffs alike.
Now it appears the latest script has not only renewed optimism at New Line Cinema, but already has the studio moving forward into meeting with potential directors. The news will come as a relief to fans, but may also hint at a smaller scope for the film than was campaigned for by those involved previously.
The report of sudden movement on the studio's part comes from Vulture, claiming that New Line is "very pleased" with the script treatment turned in by Warehouse 13 duo Matthew Federman and Steven Scaia. No further details have been provided, but considering that New Line brought in the pair to come up with a completely new screenplay after several others were drafted implied the studio had faith they'd create something workable. How exactly it puts old issues to bed remains to be seen.
Since the project was first greenlit, early problems seemed to center on the disagreement between New Line and then-director DJ Caruso (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) over the ideal size and format of the story. For those unfamiliar with the Brian K. Vaughan-written graphic novel, Y: The Last Man follows Yorick Brown, a young man left alive after nearly every single other male mammal on Earth has died of a mysterious plague. As the only hope left for humanity, Yorick begins a quest - accompanied by his pet Capuchin monkey, Ampersand, the only other male mammal to survive the plague - across the United States to track down his fiancee in Paris. The premise itself is easy to see as a feature film, but the sheer scope of the comic's run has been a divisive issue.
Known for his expansive and self-contained storylines, Vaughan's account of Yorick's travels spanned 60 issues - a story that Caruso remained unconvinced would be best told in a single feature film, which was New Line's wish. During Caruso's time on the project four different screenplays were drafted, but ultimately the lack of agreement led to the director and studio parting ways.
Rather than remaining bitter, Caruso moved on to other projects, and explained that his disagreements with New Line went much farther than simple script issues. Unsurprisingly, Caruso wasn't even sure that Y: The Last Man could be properly adapted into a two-hour film:
"I didn’t think that you could take Yorick’s story and put it in to a two-hour movie and do it justice. That was sort of the difference. I think that New Line, working with Warner Bros. in their new relationship, just felt reluctant thinking that we can’t leave this thing open. If you are familiar with the comic book, you know it’s just mind-boggling. If you look at what my buddy Frank Darabont did with 'The Walking Dead,' you think [...] is that the best thing for it? Because there is just so much great stuff, so no, I’m not involved with that anymore.”
Caruso's exit meant the entrance of Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans, The Incredible Hulk) as a candidate to occupy the director's chair. Unfortunately for New Line, Leterrier didn't side with their assessment, but actually agreed with Caruso's opinion that a single film wasn't the ideal formula. Soon the wheels of the project fell of completely, seemingly split between the consulted directors' belief that Y: The Last Man was a bankable franchise as opposed to a single adaptation, and the studio's apprehension to count on initial success leading to sequels.
Neither party was really wrong in the dispute; they merely illustrated how an artistic vision can come up against the realities of financial certainty. If we learned one thing from DC's Green Lantern, it's that planning a franchise instead of delivering the best possible film to begin with is a surefire way to crash and burn. So New Line moved on, cut their losses, and nearly six months ago brought in Federman and Scaia to start from scratch.
Unless New Line came around to Caruso and Leterrier's way of thinking (which Caruso didn't seem to think was a possibility), it would seem Federman and Scaia have drafted a script for a single movie, but one that is at least as strong as those in the past. If that's the case, fans have a number of ways to react. The die-hard Y fans who sided with the previous directors may still have legitimate gripes with the idea of a condensed, stripped-down adaptation of the series' beginnings - or they can take comfort in the fact that New Line is taking things one step at a time. The reality, of course, might lie somewhere in the middle.
Do you comic book fans think a scaled-down adaptation, or an all-out investment into an accurate depiction of Vaughan's work would be best? Are there any directors or leading men you think should be considered, now that all bets are off? Sound off in the comments.
We'll keep you updated with any Y: The Last Man news or announcements once New Line comments.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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