Bloodshot is coming to theaters starring Vin Diesel next year (Dinesh keep getting those checks!) so I started thinking about the VALIANT universe and what characters I think are viable and are an easy transition to film and I think I came up with one that isn’t one that would top other nominees like X-O Manowar, Harbinger, and Bloodshot himself (who I have been championing for several years now as the obvious easy introduction over X-O) for many people.
I came up with Shadowman.
Even as my interest currently can be described as something between deteriorated and nonexistent I’m a VALIANT comics fan from way back.
Shadowman is not my favorite character and I’ll be the first to admit that the relaunch of VALIANT has done little to change that. In fact if he were my favorite character it would have caused me some amount of ire.
I’ve enjoyed many of the new VALIANT titles very much, like Divinity, Ninjak, and the work of Joshua Dysart but beyond the obvious advantages of having an already large fanbase as IP (which VALIANT does not have in numbers to move Hollywood needles) that has very little to do with what would actually make a good movie.
In simple terms, some of the best comics probably wouldn’t make for the best films, though admittedly given the right script and filmmaker you can make anything work.
My Case For Shadowman
It’s an easy concept …
As much as I think the Shadowman comic kind of fell apart and felt very short term to me, I think what it presented is very easy for a film audience.
A guy wears a family heirloom on that his mother used to wear that hid him from their enemies.
Shit starts going down.
In New Orleans. Where a number of movies are now made. In over his head, battling daddy, mommy, and legacy issues he beats demon ass with his new powers.
I think visually it’s very easy to get that the heirloom being removed causes Jack to become a beacon attracting crazy. Doubly, it ties into a personal/family angle and explain why he would need to be protected.
Horror(ISH)/Supernatural films don’t have to cost a ton…
A lot of them are terrible too but if you get it right not only do you get your money but you also develop a following that rides for you. Horror fans will try anything and if they dig it they will support you forever. Here’s a big non-secret about the Ghost Rider movies for instance. They made money.
We live in a world where horror movies are being made for very little and making big money, most notably by Blumhouse.
The concept of cheap is admittedly not something that usually is associated with superhero or superhero universe movies, as we laud Logan for being relatively an inexpensive endeavor with a budget still nearing $100 million before marketing but you can make John Wick for $30 million and if you can do that you can make any non-science fiction/other worldly related VALIANT movie.
In fact, it was watching John Wick that made me feel like we can have a Bloodshot movie though I feel like that’s aiming really high. At the moment the John Wick films seems like they have universal approval to anyone who buys a ticket to go see it.
Sony though, after years of issues, is on a bit of a roll. The Spider-Man films collaborations with MARVEL are for many reasons my favorite live action Spider-Man films. Jumanji is almost a billion dollar movie. Venom made a TON, over performing expectations, the 3rd Hotel Transylvania movie is over half a billion, Into the Spider-Verse is life-changing, and while not making the box office, I still admire the shit out of Blade Runner 2049.
The bad part? None of that matters thought because I think Sony just has the aforementioned Bloodshot & Harbinger under their creative control out of the VALIANT catalog.
DESIGN, DESIGN, DESIGN…
I really liked the original Shadowman design which I think was by David Lapham but also really dig the redesign. I dig ’90s Lapham in general.
There’s something to be said about a great design and if you look at the mega popular characters, they all have what have become classic designs. To pick a relatively modern example, I think that a lot of what has carried Deadpool is design.
He really hasn’t changed much since Rob Liefeld put it down in New Mutants #98. Sure, there have been several writers who have transcended what Deadpool is but even as they leveled him up to a character that once had at least 3 monthly books out the design stayed pretty much the same.
If you think about the most popular and superhero characters with staying power, their designs, sure, have been updated to some extent, but are largely exceedingly recognizable in their original form. Go check out Amazing Fantasy #16. It’s Spider-Man.
Obviously none of the VALIANT characters are even remotely iconic but a good design is a good design.
There’s nothing extraneous with Shadowman, it’s sleek, the scythe could be fun in the way Harley’s hammer is or violent and frightening. If anything, I wish Shadowman was a bit more fun, which it can afford to be because he’s kind of all alone in his corner of the VALIANT universe barring a possible Dr. Mirage appearance.
Make it something that moves; ff you just pace something really well it hide a lot of flaws, and typically horror/supernatural films have a bunch.
I think that a lot of people, way more qualified than me, tend to try to make Shadowman this or that, something they are familiar with, but I think this dude is Buffy Batman but with flavor.
That said, though it was pre-cinema universe building, I could see Shadowman being very Blade-ish, which both performed well and seems to have aged with audiences still having goodwill for it.
Marvel just crushed it with the announcement of Mahershala Ali as Blade. A character with cinematic goodwill as we have seen it can work on-screen with as good an actor working in Hollywood today.
HE HAS A REAL VILLAIN…
There’s not a ton of visually interesting villains in the VALIANT Universe. I know Marvel has had villain problems in the past but those problems aren’t related to actual design. Valiant has been pretty bland on the villain-front almost forever.
While I want Shadowman beating the hell out of plenty of mobs of grunts and demons, at the end of the day there is only room for one typical dapper suited CEO/Mastermind villain in VALIANT and that’s Toyo Harada.
Shadowman has Master Darque.
Thanks to Marvel we now live in a post-Black Panther world.
Doing what’s right isn’t always enough for… idk… 40 something percent of the voting population, so you have to make money and Black Panther was an unmitigated success both commercially and creatively.
It took them long enough but I think it’s hard to argue with what we got – Black Panther is GIANT IP now and while that does little for my or your pockets (well, I’m a stockholder so it does more for me than most people lol) that fact that it is can have huge positive implications.
There are many actors now who could take this on and I’m sure people can come up with many name but I was really impressed with Justice Smith who was the lead male character in Netflix’s The Get Down (which was some awesome but I wasn’t surprised it got cancelled, I could see all the money on the screen) and he just starred in the new Pokemon film.
I should say my pick of Shadowman goes against a lot of my own personal preferences, I just think it makes sense. I know everybody always talks about how much they love New Orleans.
I actually have quite the opposite reaction. I think the setting is played out a bit in numerous supernatural related tv shows, at some point they all end up there and even in real life, I’ve had property there: not a fan. Once you leave Harrah’s I can live without it.
It’s just not a magical place to me. It’s filthy, it stinks, it’s omg humid hot, food is vastly overrated, and I don’t get the point of being waterfront when it’s gross, and the crime is crazy. That said, I made a not small amount of coin there on real estate selling vastly overvalued shotgun houses so thank you to the people who do like that stuff that drive up prices for ridiculous places. This is no slight to people who love it, everybody is different, just definitely not my scene or vibe.
Back to Shadowman.
Shadowman is not my favorite VALIANT character.
I still think Shadowman can work, I think there’s a blueprint for it, and it’s one of those properties that I think could be a perfectly good night at the movies or, on the other hand, some really unfortunate CW adaptation that we want to forget about and hope Dean Winchester – the one true Batman -ends for us via a machete or shotgun.
I will say have very little faith in DMG