Flashback: The early ’90s. Comic books are big business, bigger than ever thanks to the work of a bunch of hotshot artists and a collectors’ market that would soon prove itself insanely inflated. But before the crash, one new company launched after another, each producing edgy heroes that took the world by storm, however briefly. Founded by ex-Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter and Bob Layton, a veteran of many Marvel and DC projects, Valiant produced titles like X-O Manowar and Shadowman, all of which took place within an interconnected universe a la those found at Marvel and DC. The company’s fortunes rose and fell with the comics marketplace and, after it was acquired by Acclaim Entertainment in 1994, the videogame marketplace.
Flash forward: The summer of 2012. After a lot of legal wrangling, Valiant makes its return to comic-book shops by rebooting four of its core titles: X-O Manowar, Archer & Armstrong, Bloodshot, and Harbinger. All become hits, and from such success bigger plans get launched. Last month, Valiant announced a nine-figure investment deal to develop its properties into film and TV projects. Now The Hollywood Reporter has news that sheds some further light on those plans. Joining forces with Sony, Valiant has plans to release five movies based around Valiant titles Bloodshot and Harbinger, starting with a Bloodshot film directed by David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, the team behind John Wick and culminating in the crossover film Harbinger Wars.
So who is Bloodshot and what is Harbinger? Here’s THR’s description:
Harbinger, created by former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter and David Lapham, is a next-generation X-Men-esque storyline about a group of superpowered beings on the run from the Harbinger Foundation, an organization run by a mysterious philanthropist Toyo Harada. Bloodshot, created by Kevin Van Hook, Don Perlin and Bob Layton, is a soldier brought back from the dead by a secret government agency, turned into an unstoppable killing machine with no memory powered by nanotechnology.
Now, the big question: Will it be possible to get audiences to care about these characters? Valiant’s comics are popular, but popular within comic-shop circles. To the rest of the world, they’re virtually unknown. These are big plans built around obscure characters. On the other hand, that may not matter: Iron Man was probably the general populace’s 18th favorite superhero before he got his own movie, and anyone who’s seen Leitch and Stahelski’s John Wick know they’re already operating on the next level of action-movie filmmaking. Drop some stars into those costumes and Sony and Valiant might be onto something.