It has been a while since fans got an update on the status of the upcoming Prophet movie, but this week was a big one, with the revelation that the movie will star Jake Gyllenhaal as the title hero. The film will feature a story written by Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim, based on the comics by Image Comics co-founder Rob Liefeld. The project itself hasn't slowed down, though; it's mostly just one of those cases where a flurry of early announcements left nothing much to say until the project gets closer to production. Rob Liefeld, though, remains incredibly enthusiastic about the project, and has high praise for the screenplay as well as for Gyllenhaal.
The screenplay focuses on some of the earliest Prophet adventures, beginning in the second issue of Youngblood, according to Liefeld. The big thing that Guggenheim brings to it, besides a screenplay structure, is a focus on character that was a little bit lost in the bombastic action of introducing Prophet in a team book.
"Youngblood #1 is the book that launched Image Comics, came out in April. In June, two more comic books were published by Image," Liefeld explained. "I was just laughing about this with the guys at Image, but after Youngblood #1, there was Spawn #1, and Youngblood #2. And Youngblood #2 is the third published comic by Image that I spend the almost the entire issue introducing this new character. And so when I met with Marc Guggenheim, who has written a phenomenal script, about the introduction of John Prophet he knew right away what needed to be done."
And what that was? Take the elements already on the page, and infuse them with the kind of humanity that Gyllenhaal will be able to knock out of th epark.
"There is a section in the middle of Youngblood #2 that get into the nitty gritty about why John Prophet does what he did to become the soldier he is, including on what he needed to help his family," Liefeld said. "What's great about Marc Guggenheim is that he moves you with his scripts and storytelling. You're going to be tearing up in the first 20 minutes. And so after you read, that you say to yourself, 'There needs to be a great actor here,' then we were fortunate enough to add Jake Gyllenhaal to the equation and man let me tell you, he's like the great actor of his generation."
Gyllenhaal is no stranger to comic book movies, having appeared in Spider-Man: Far From Home already. His name also appears as an Easter egg on the Billboard chart in Josie and the Pussycats. But it's his non-genre work that made the filmmakers think he was ideal for John Prophet.
"Jake Gyllenhaal has done so many great films and is such a chameleon and an artist," Liefeld said. "We just watched The Guilty this last weekend, and my two boys became Jake Gyllenhaal fans because they watched Nightcrawler and Prisoner. I even told my daughter the other day, I go, 'You should watch The Day after Tomorrow with me, because Jake Gyllenhaal's in it!' He's been in so many amazing roles that he is going to just crush it with Prophet."
Of course, Liefeld's art is immediately recognizable in its embrace of massive, muscled characters, and that's the kind of thing that fans are going to be on the lookout for whenever there's an exciting piece of casting announced. Liefeld has no fear there, pointing to Gylenhaal's Prince of Persia transformation to prove that the actor has the ability to bulk up and look like an action hero.
"I think people forgot that Jake Gyllenhaal got ripped like hell for Prince of Persia," Liefeld said. "Before everybody else was getting jacked, Jake Gyllenhaal was like, 'I'll show you how that works!' and was kind of the template. The only guy [doing that] at the time was Hugh Jackman, maybe, right? He's chameleon in the same way I think Christian Bale's a chameleon. And so, you've got a guy who could absolutely meet the physicality head-on, he's the best actor in his generation. And let me tell you something, I'm going to be honest. I've been watching Jake's hair grow. All for the role. I go, 'Oh, he's just becoming more Prophet every day. Stop teasing me!' Because man, he looks great."
Liefeld added that the process has been easy because "it was so easy to talk to" Marc Guggenheim. The pair have been having a public love-fest since the announcement that they would work together, singing one another's praises on social media and talking in interviews about how exciting Prophet is.
"I tweeted out today, and I mean this: His screenplay is the MVP of the project," Liefeld said. "It is a page-turner, it's gripping, it's action-packed. There are huge stakes, and like I said, that opening 20 pages is like...ooh, it'll get you. You're going to be rooting for John Prophet. John Prophet is like an amped up John Wick, in the way that you were sold on John Wick, and went on his journey with him. John Prophet, I'm telling you, man, I just get, reading Marc's script, just electrified me."
John Prophet, originally an adversary in the Liefeld-created Youngblood, was something of a "what if Captain America, but violent?" story. While Peacemaker has an element of that, there's not likely to be a ton of overlap between the two projects. In the comics, Prophet was a homeless man in the '40s, who ended up being part of a government-funded super-soldier program. It worked, but the process also made him mentally unstable, and the science of the time could not keep his volatility and rage under control.
Where Captain America went into a de facto cryostasis after seemingly dying during a World War II mission, Prophet was put into stasis by his creator, springing back to "life" almost fifty years later and becoming an antihero.
Originally inspired by Gene Roddenberry and Steven Spielberg, Prophet had a brush with the big screen in the '90s, when TriStar Pictures optioned the rights. They let it lapse, though, and it wasn't until 2018 that Studio 8 optioned the property and began developing it in earnest. With the massive success of the Liefeld-created Deadpool in the movies, the studio tapped Guggenheim to pen the adaptation. It is likely that the movie will get production off the ground in 2021.
Are you excited to see Jake Gyllenhaal step into the role of John Prophet? Let us know who you'd like to see him face off against in the comments, or hit up @russburlingame on Twitter for all things comics and movies.