Liefeld’s Extreme Studios universe is going to be a streaming franchise.
Netflix wants all your shared universes. Don’t bother bringing them to Paramount or Disney. If you’ve got a group of ragtag spandex weirdos, it’s time to take them to the steaming service with $8 billion to spend in 2018. They promise creative freedom and a nearly infinite space to expand your property.
No wonder Rob Liefeld finds them so attractive. Following in the footsteps of Mark Millar’s own multi-show picture deal, Liefeld has sold off his Extreme Studios imprint to Netflix. According to Deadline, the Deadpool creator accepted a seven figure rights deal with Akiva Goldsman overseeing a “high-end writer’s room” to develop feature films with connective tissue. This has been Goldsman’s strategy of late, attempting to wrangle Transformers and Ology spin-offs in the same manner. Why enjoy one film when you can enjoy a dozen?
Liefeld is obviously giddy over the deal. Speaking to ComicBook.Com, he could barely contain his screaming enthusiasm:
“Netflix! NETFLIX baby!! There is no platform more exciting and groundbreaking then Netflix! There is certainly no more important portal in my household, and I’m thrilled to be bringing my Extreme characters to life with Akiva and the gang! So much exciting news ahead!”
The comic book entrepreneur probably feels some kinship with the little company that could. Going up against the titans of Hollywood studios, beating them at their own game. This is the life path Liefeld has been following since his own breakaway success story decades ago.
Liefeld tore free from Marvel Comics in the early ’90s to help form Image Comics. Within that company he spun off Extreme Studios with titles such as “Bloodstrike,” “Brigade,” “Glory,” “Prophet,” “Supreme,” “Troll,” and “New Men.” It was a realm of big boobs and even bigger shoulder pads. The driving mantra was to kick ass and look cool doing it.
However, you should not dismiss Liefeld due to the muscles on top of muscles that he loves so much. You may have dropped out after the comic book speculation market crashed, but Liefeld has always been a talent eager to expand his brand. When Alan Moore was seeking to bust free from the corporate mindset at DC Comics, he found a home in Extreme. His work on “Supreme” is an epic deconstruction of superhero tropes, and he would push those rage-fueled ideas even further in his own “Tom Strong” adventures.
Moore found new life in Extreme, and he wasn’t the only one. In 2013, Liefeld was looking to artistically revamp a few of his titles. He brought on indie darling Brandon Graham, who transformed the knife-wielding psychopathic stories of “Prophet” into a trippy sci-fi saga akin to Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” Liefeld allowed his blatant Wonder Woman rip-off, “Glory,” to be converted into a sci-fi pulp adventurer with a richly bizarre mythology all its own.
While we all rush to share the absurd anatomy and big guns of classic Rob Liefeld, we rarely give him the credit of reinvention. The success of Deadpool has allowed Liefeld audience with the studio suits, and he has plenty of wild concepts to shake up the decades-old Marvel formula. If Netflix captures a third of what Brandon Graham’s “Prophet” achieved then we could all be in for quite a bit of a shock.
The Deadline report describes the Netflix deal as covering six comic books, “encompassing more than 50 characters that include Brigade, Bloodstrike, Cybrid, Re-Gex, Bloodwulf, and Kaboom.” With all the wheeling and dealing he’s committed over time, I’m not exactly sure what banner his various characters currently land. What was once Extreme may now be Maximum Press or Awesome Comics or DC Comics. It’s a bit of a mess.
Whatever the case, the Liefeld/Netflix partnership gets this comic book geek excited. As much as I love the superhero theatrics we’re currently being fed on the big screen, Netflix has already proven with their Defenders titles that there is a craving for darker, offkilter tones. Liefeld has us covered.