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Can Preacher Be The First DC/Vertigo Movie That Works?

With the new rumors that forward motion is finally happening on the Preacher movie circulating, I’m torn between being excited and terrified. DC Entertainment has yet to really realize the potential of the Vertigo imprint across multiple media, after all, but evidence of earlier attempts have been shown to be somewhat… uneven.

To be fair, Warner Bros hasn’t exactly shied away from the non-superheroic properties DC Comics has had to offer in the past. We’ve had movies based on Red, The Losers, Constantine, A History of Violence and a television version of Human Target, and there’s the constant rumoring of projects based on Sandman and Fables. So why does Vertigo still seem oddly underappreciated by DC Entertainment?

Well, there’s that most of the projects that have come from Vertigo books have ended up being disappointing to varying degrees, usually because what ends up on screen is too far apart from what was on the page for one reason or another. (Constantine, for example, was almost unrecognizable from Hellblazer, right down to the title. The Losers, by comparison, was weirdly too in love with the source material without managing to really get it; both Red and Human Target, I’d argue were enjoyable, but disappointing because they didn’t really keep anything other than the core concept and then built in entirely different directions.) Whereas superhero projects, whether from Marvel, DC or other publishers altogether, somehow survive the translation more or less intact, there’s something about Vertigo books that seem much more fragile.

And yet, at its best, Vertigo has been home to so many stories that are perfect for mainstream audiences, primed for movies and shows that dabble in the fantastic and unusual without necessitating knowledge of shared universes, previous continuity or any love of superhero genre conventions. If Warner Bros is serious about making DC Entertainment a success, Vertigo seems crucial to that, offering an alternative to (and, when the bubble pops, lifeboat from) superhero franchises, but it’ll be an alternative that’ll require more work on behalf of those adapting them; with only a few exceptions, Vertigo series aren’t franchises, but the work of one authorial voice, and can’t stand up to the pushing-and-pulling that some other concepts (Superhero comics, toys, old TV shows) can – they should be treated in the same way as novel adaptations, concerned with working out what works in the original and how to translate that, instead of picking and choosing fan service moments for cheap trailer thrills.

I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of either Preacher nor DJ Caruso’s movies, but there is something about his enthusiasm for the project and love of the original that makes me think that maybe he can make a movie work – if only because he seems to respect the material enough to not want to try and cram the whole story into one movie. I hope it all comes together, and is good… if nothing else than because I’d like to see someone come up with a framework for future adaptations of Vertigo projects I do like.


  • Michael Sacal

    A History of Violence is from the Paradox Press imprint, not Vertigo.

    Revisionist history only works in fiction, not real life.

  • Westside_Goth

    WB didn’t do Red. They didn’t even want to.

  • Mcmillanshouldstopwriting

    McMillan Fail

  • Kelly

    Paradox Press was an imprint of DC Comics, when A History of Violence hit the big screens.
    Also, long-running Vertigo series need to go to Showtime (which is owned by WB, I believe).
    You can’t adapt Preacher in a 90 min movie and expect it to be good.

  • CAPT. fo’head

    a showtime/hbo series would be more realistic.
    a 90 min – 2 hour film will miss out on so much of the goodness that is preacher.

    i want it to work, but im very, very skeptical. but mainly because im a huge preacher fan.

    but if ennis is involved and has some kind of creative say-so, then my skepticism might diminish somewhat.

  • demoncat_4

    if dj can keep some of of the source material i can see Preacher succeeding as the first vertigo film. to work. provided once the studio learns what preacher is about they do not wind up going nuts and pulling the plug on preacher.

  • kalorama

    I liked Constantine.

  • Carolina

    “I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of either Preacher nor DJ Caruso’s movies”…

    Then what are you doing writing this article?

  • Thom

    No, Warner Brothers (WB) is owned by Time-Warner, and Time-Warner also owns HBO rather than Showtime.

    Showtime is owned by CBS Corporation.

  • Whitecluster

    I have a hard time believing Preacher can be adapted to live action in a convincing way. Something like Scalped would work as an HBO or AMC type show, but I have a feeling they’d step away from some of the main concepts (can’t have a show that’s all native americans can we?).

  • Max

    Everyone seems to forget that most of Vertigo’s books are creator-owned (with the exception of Hellblazer, Sandman and the likes). That’s why DCE is not pursuing Vertigos books adaptations, they don’t own the rights to do it.

  • Darkstream

    No mention of V FOR VENDETTA?

  • Michael Sacal

    The article claims that History was from Vertigo because reprints that followed Paradox’s clousure came from Vertigo.

    It’s revisionist. It tries to change history for no reason.

    Both History and Road to Perdition were PP gns that became movies.

  • Steve

    No, Graeme states – correctly – that History of Violence was published by DC. He doesn’t refer to the specific imprint at all.

  • Guest

    DC Entertainment did Red; which is owned by Warner Bros.

  • Michael Sacal

    He does in title of the article, “Can Preacher Be The First DC/Vertigo Movie That Works”, and in the use of the names of other Vertigo comics he mentions along with “History”, like “Red, The Losers, Constantine” and “a television version of Human Target”.

  • Ziggy

    best user name ever.

  • Anonymous

    History of Violence and Road to Perdition were good films (I’m not sure if they were originaly published by Vertigo, but the copy I have is I think).

    Also, I actually really like the Constatine film, as an adaptation its dissapointing, but its a good film in of itself. Keanu Reeves plays a decent chain smoker anyway.

  • Michael Sacal

    “History of Violence and Road to Perdition were good films (I’m not sure if they were originaly published by Vertigo, but the copy I have is I think).”

    “History” and “Road” were both originally published by DC’s Paradox Press but, subsequent to the imprint’s demise, all future reprints came out from Vertigo.

    It’s no different from when Transmetropolitan switch from Helix to Vertigo.

  • Deej

    I bet it would probably work better on tv as a series. I always thought Scalped was a comic that was begging to be put on HBO. I would say American Vampire as well but the vampire niche is a bit saturated at the time.

  • jephd

    lets just answer the question in the title. No. Preacher cannot successfully be made as A film. It, like most of Vertigo’s top properties (Sandman, Invisibles, Y, Transmet etc) is designed as a work of longform fiction which has never been cinemas forte. That’s not to say that a movie with the concept of “Southern Minister with powers and vampire sidekick search for God,whilst fighting over Girl” couldn’t be successful, Hell i’d watch that pitch. But that pitch does not encapsulate what made Preacher great. How would you fit in Starr, the Quincannons, Salvation, Arseface, Jodi, The Saint of Killers, The Grail, Granma, Spaceman, The Reaver Cleaver, Jesus de Sade and the Sex detectives. You just have to look at fabry’s cover to issue 56 to understand the problem. Problem is no studio will commit to a trilogy of nc-17/very hard R movies, let alone one with as many hot button topics as this one. The only hope we have of seeing this and many other series done right is on the small screen by HBO, AMC, or maybe Showtime. But the fact is they would take 2-5 seasons a piece, these networks have limited resources and airtime and there are exciting new series starting each year. This may change as our method of viewing shows moves more to the internet with the emphasis on choice meaning studios have to make more effort to create appointment tv. Unfortunately 100 channels of x-factor and wife swap suggests otherwise.

  • Westside_Goth

    No-They’re talking about the adaptations of DC Comics that WB hasn’t shied away from except WB didn’t do the film Red, Summit did. Which is not a WB company.

  • Westside_Goth

    Even if DC Entertainment had a part in the production there were reports that the creators had to exercise their rights to move set the property elsewhere. WB has no real claim to that films success despite owning the company that published the comic.