Blumhouse has not yet released Todd McFarlane's Spawn movie, but they are apparently feeling bullish on comic book films: Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley will direct an adaptation of his own comic, The American Way, for the indie studio.
Ridley developed The American Way at DC just over 10 years ago with artist Georges Jeanty, and recently wrote a follow-up, The American Way: Those Above and Those Below.
“At that time, ten years ago, I was very fortunate and good things were happening for me. The series did well, it was critically well-received, but it’s not as though it was the best seller of the year, so it seemed like that was just a very nice part of what was going to be my history,” Ridley told reporters at Comic Con last summer. “In the last ten years, I’ve been very fortunate and very blessed in the other work that I do, but I have to say there’s really no blessing quite like having the opportunity to be involved in comic books.”
In the years between The American Way and its sequel, Ridley has done pretty well in his other work: he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film 12 Years A Slave. That's a film that took a long look at America's history of slavery and didn't blink -- and while it's about a century past slavery, The American Way also uses history to inform an examination of race relations in the U.S.
“As most of you know, the future is all speculative. We don’t know what’s going to happen in certain spaces and that’s what makes it exciting — because going into a story, ‘anything can happen’ is challenging,” Ridley explained. “It’s interesting. That’s the hallmark of fantasy and science. With history, we tend to know what happened. There are details, there are specifics that are always being excavated —- that’s why there are historians that remain — but there are elements of history that happened. I find that very fascinating to look back and say ‘Look, we got here, we’ve arrived at a place; could we have avoided it? Could we have done something different? What are these other elements of history that are not always given equal weight by the prevailing culture?’ So the idea with The American Way, ten years ago, the original story was set in 1962. It was based on some real history where Vice President Johnson at that time wanted one of the original Mercury astronauts to be a person of color, a black man, because he thought that the best way to stop the coming war, which was not with Russia or a Cold War, but was going to be on the streets of America, was to show people that in every walk of life, an individual succeeds and excels and shows their exceptionalism. People can still deny, but [evidence] just makes it that much harder. Johnson was in favor of that, Kennedy was not. That program didn’t go through, but that was the supposition going into The American Way: What if we had a group of superheroes whose primary function was to simply placate the masses, not in an over-Orwellian way, but to say ‘don’t worry Russia or the bomb or missiles in Cuba, know that America is strong because we have these heroes who are going out on a daily basis and winning the fight.’”2comments
Per Deadline, The American Way is being fast tracked by Blumhouse, which just released Truth or Dare.
The trade paperback edition of The American Way: Those Above and Those Below will be in stores on April 24.