Ava DuVernay to Direct DMZ Pilot for HBO Max

Ava DuVernay is set to direct the upcoming pilot for HBO Max’s adaptation of the Vertigo Comics series DMZ. The project comes from executive producer Roberto Patino and production is expected to begin in early 2020. DMZ takes place in a near-future setting where political divisions in the United States led to a Second American Civil War. One result of that war is that Manhattan Island becomes a demilitarized zone, cut off from the rest of the world. Those who live in the DMZ are forced to do what they must to survive as the war outside threatens to reignite at any moment.

DMZ is a special project to me as it marks a key collaboration with my company Array Filmworks, the excellent team at Warner Bros TV and the dynamo Roberto Patino,” DuVernay told Deadline. “We’ve all worked diligently on this material, and I’ve witnessed Roberto in action. He’s insanely talented and cares about telling stories with maximum impact and imagination. I’m eager to share this one with DC fans.”

This is the second DC Entertainment project that DuVernay has attached herself to. She’s also set to direct DC Film’s upcoming New Gods movie.

DMZ was created by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli and ran for 72 issues from 2005 through 2012. The series focused on Matty Roth, a photojournalist who becomes embedded in the DMZ, as its primary protagonist. The television series will focus instead on Zee Hernandez, one of the key supporting characters from the comic. Zee is a nurse and a Manhattan native who uses her skills to help others as a medic in the DMZ.

Though DMZ was a critically praised, Wood has come under scrutiny following allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him in 2013. New allegations surfaced earlier this year, leading Dark Horse Comics, which had been home to Wood's creator-owned work since 2012, to cut ties with the writer.

Vertigo Comics, a staple of the comic industry for over 25 years, will be shut down by DC Comics in January 2020. The shuttering follows corporate restructuring that took place in the early 2010s which led to founding editor Karen Berger leaving DC Entertainment. She has since founded a similarly-themed imprint, Berger Books, at Dark Horse Comics.

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HBO Max is the upcoming streaming service launched and owned by WarnerMedia Entertainment. Programming for the service is overseen by HBO programming president Casey Bloys. DMZ is one of several original programming projects in the works for the company. Others include a reboot of The Boondocks, an adaptation of the mythological fantasy novel Circe, and Dune: The Sisterhood. It will also share the DC Comics television series Doom Patrol, which debuted on the DC Universe streaming service.

Are you looking forward to DMZ? Let us know in the comments.