In a move no one saw coming, but perhaps should have, Deadline is reporting that Netflix has optioned Rob Liefeld’s Extreme universe.
Sit back, because there’s a bit to unpack here.
This deal is apparently 7 figures and Akiva Goldsman is setting up a “high-end writer’s room” to work on the properties for a series of films with “connective tissues.” Goldsman having already been working on an Avengelyne (yes, that was a comic in the ’90s) movie over at Paramount.
So what’s up with this?
The initial thought by many would seem to be that Netflix is chasing Deadpool, since it was a hit and Deadpool has always been Liefeld’s baby.
And honestly, this could go a LOT of different ways.
First off, Goldsman’s track record is pretty hit or miss. He had some pretty awful early work with Batman Forever, Batman & Robin and Lost in Space. Then he started getting awards and critical plaudits for A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man. For the SF/F genre, his work on TV’s Fringe was pretty good. But the spectre of Batman Forever will hang over Goldsman working on adapting a comics property until proven otherwise. (And we won’t even go there with the producer credit on Jonah Hex.)
Then there’s the Extreme universe, which is a little more diverse than you might immediately recall. Most people remember the mid-90s to early-00s era of Youngblood, Brigade, Prophet and the like. And this is where you get the headlines about blood and action and trying to follow Deadpool into film.
But when you step back, there’s a wider variety of material that could fall under that banner. For instance, Alan Moore did a run on Supreme that was essentially a love letter to the silver age era of Superman. More recently, Liefeld’s been opening up the properties to young talent with very different takes on the material. The highlight of these series probably being the European science fiction influenced run on Prophet by Brandon Graham.
Which way will they go?
You figure there’s a good chance things will start out with 90s era Youngblood if it was Goldsman working on an Avengelyne movie that started the wheels moving, but where it goes from there is open to some different possibilities.
Netflix is clearly looking to have their own film universe like DC or Marvel. Millarworld is a collection of properties, not a shared universe. Nemesis and Starlight are not necessarily connected properties. And if you stop and think about it, how many superhero universes are there that would be on the market? Marvel/Disney own the Ultraverse. DC/Warner own the Wildstorm. Spawn is under option and has fewer lead characters. That leaves you with Top Cow, Project Super Powers (which is technically public domain characters), Archie’s heroes and maybe DNAgents/Crossfire? What am I missing here?
If Amazon Prime or Hulu wants a pre-made superhero universe, there are only so many to go around.
So we’ll have to wait and see which direction Netflix takes with this. I’m not confident enough to bet money on seeing a Graham-era Prophet movie, but that’s absolutely what I’m hoping eventually pops out.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.