Ten reasons why Preacher shouldn't be a movie
|LISTS - MOVIE LISTS|
Here's one comic-to-movie adaptation Hollywood should think twice about...
It's been ten years since Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's Preacher series concluded, ending a 66-issue run full of blasphemy, blood, guts, Western iconography and country music. And in that decade, the comic's lurched back and forth between development hell and pre-production, with Sam Mendes the most recent name attached (until he upped and got the James Bond gig) and various production companies backing out of the project along the way. Some have cited the source's religious controversy for their abandonment of a film adaptation, which is frankly akin to scrapping a dinosaur movie because it's a bit "bitey". But even as producer Neal Moritz tells Collider.com that filming of a John (The Nines) August script could start next year, I must explain why my love for Preacher means that I don't want to see it turned into a film...
1) Who could play Jesse Custer?
Because it's quite an important role this one. Yes, it's the lead character, so presence, charisma and good looks are a must, but also essential is an impressive range. Jesse isn't just a small town reverend-cum-standard bearer for abandoned humanity, he's all but an orphan, having witnessed the brutal murder of his mother and father by her evil family. He's a strong, able fighter, as "being taught how to fight by the man who killed your daddy in front of you sure does tend to focus your concentration". And, thanks to his merger with the angel-demon offspring Genesis, he can convince any man to do his bidding with the Word of God. Johnny Depp and James Marsden have both been linked with the role but with such controversial subject matter at hand and a character so beloved by fans, winning this amazing part would be a double-edged sword.
2) Isn't it too gory?
Snapshot moments of violence in Preacher - teenage boy left permanently disfigured by suicide attempt gone wrong; vampire shot through chest so he falls and burns in the sun; former soldier has leg eaten by hillbillies; same soldier loses genitals to a rottweiler… on it goes. Preacher isn't Tarantino violent, or Neil Marshall bloody, it's an unholy mix of their penchant for gore, the psychosexual trauma of the most explicit Asian cinema and, in its most extreme moments, the inhumanity of a snuff movie. Of course, Ennis and Dillon's comic most frequently uses this violence for comedic effect but to it's impossible to see how a film could be passed for release if it retained Preacher's extreme content.
3) Won't the portrayal of the church have to be watered down?
It's easy to imply that Preacher strays into Da Vinci Code territory with its inclusion of The Grail, a secretive organisation that protects the bloodline of Christ. Except Preacher's depiction of the bloodline shows it growing so inbred that the last scion is a retard, while other religiously-themed characters include a bulimic priest, cocaine-snorting angels, a sexual union between a demon and an angel and, crucially, a God whose abandoned the curation of Heaven and Earth. So, yeah, they might have to alter a few character details there…
4) Would the film be protested by nutjobs/fundamentalists?
Consider the level of hysteria after the release of Kevin Smith's Dogma in 1999. While Smith's film depicted vengeful angels and discussed the idea of a bloodline relating back to Jesus, it also depicted religion in a reasonably positive light, with the idea of the 'Buddy Christ' and the insistence that faith is a thing to be treasured. And if even the Harry Potter and Twilight films get attacked by the religious right, a Preacher film certainly couldn't expect an easy ride.
5) Can Cassidy be taken seriously as a vampire in this Twihard world?
Proinsias Cassidy isn't a brooding Edward Cullen-esque vampire, nor a lustful True Blood style biter or, heaven forbid, a camp, ludicrously-coiffeured bloodsucker in the manner of the rubbish Cirque de Freak. Cass is, for all intents and purposes, a bastard. A brave and fiercely loyal one, all the same, but still an alcoholic, drug-abusing, woman-beating son of a bitch who betrays his best friend with the strength to withstand pretty much any injury. Even decapitation. Not quite the Stephenie Meyer brand of vampire.
6) Would rubbish CGI ruin the portrayals of God and Genesis?
Clash of the Titans might have had entirely unnecessary 3D but one of its biggest visual crimes was the depiction of Olympus with Zeus and co. clad in bizarre armour and long hair in a room with no floor and far too many lights on. The heavenly hosts that are dispatched by God in the climax of Preacher and the near-cataclysmic birth of Genesis after the union between angel and demon could, if handled poorly by the effects team in question, ruin any gravity within the film.
7) Would the John Wayne conscience character be naff?
Jesse's conscience, his spiritual guide, appears frequently at the character's lowest moments, reminding Jesse to be a man and live up to the ideals of the Old West and of his late father John Custer. There's even a subtle thrill with the comic when reading straightforward, gloriously clichéd nuggets of advice like "You kin talk the talk, now let's see ya walk the walk". The prohibitive running time of a film adaptation, however, could mean the character being cut altogether or restricted to split-second appearances that could seem comedic or jarring alongside the more serious aspects of the script.
8) Whither Arseface?
The same fate could await Arseface, the son of redneck racist sheriff Hugo Root who takes on a new moniker after a botched suicide attempt with a shotgun - in an attempt to emulate hero Kurt Cobain - leaves him with a face like… well, like an "arse", as Cassidy succinctly puts it. He's a beloved character for fans of the comic but his lack of relevance to Jesse's quest means his unlikely musical success, exploitation by a manipulative manager and eventual romance with the visually impaired Lorrie Bobbs would be left on the cutting room floor.
9) Which back stories will be cut?
That's the main issue with the prospect of a Preacher film, hell, with any film adapted from a successful novel. How do filmmakers retain the soul of a story while making the necessary changes to fit a manageable movie running time? When it works, as with the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings franchises, the cuts are frustrating but acceptable to fans. When it doesn't, as with Danny Boyle's maddening adaptation of Alex Garland's The Beach, it runs the risk of forever tarnishing the source. With the depth of Preacher's biographies, a character such as Cassidy, for example, could be greatly shortchanged by a screenwriter.
10) Isn't it better suited to a miniseries?
Yes, a thousand times yes. Daredevil's Mark Steven Johnson was signed by HBO to shoot a Preacher TV pilot and while his one issue = one episode proposition would have meant a series lasting years - not the worst proposition in the world - it would have also meant characters and stories nearing the amount of nuance and complexity as Ennis and Dillon's original. Sadly, HBO turned down the project in 2008, with Johnson telling the Continuum that executives felt Preacher was "just too dark and too violent and too controversial". That being its brilliance, of course. But if the network that brought us The Sopranos, Deadwood, Oz and The Wire can't find a home for Preacher, which channel ever could?
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE HELP SUPPORT OUR SITE, AT NO COST WITH ONE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON BELOW:
If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.