With Deadpool and X-Force storming the box office, the time has come to rummage through other extreme nineties superheroes.
Whatever Marvel and DC Comics could do, Image Comics could do it more extreme if not necessarily better. Well, that was the case back in the nineties when a group of rockstar illustrators broke free from their masters to form the creator-driven company. Cats like Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, and Rob Liefeld revolutionized the design of Spider-Man and the X-Men and then took those character archetypes and cranked them up to eleven.
In Hollywood, history is ready to repeat itself. For at least the past ten years, but a case could be made for the last twenty, superheroes have proven themselves the dominant species at the box office. The MCU reigns supreme, but 20th Century Fox is nipping right at their tails. R-rated heavy-hitters like Deadpool and Logan have made a serious play as critical and commercial darlings. They’ve set the stage for a new/old wave of characters to reappear, snap into a slim jim, and dunk the big studios in the toilet for swirlies.
Liefeld has a few universes loaded with characters itching to make their cinematic debut. Back in March, we reported that Netflix had purchased his Extreme Studios imprint and characters like Bloodstrike, Brigade, Glory, Supreme, and Troll were gearing up for primetime. Now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, another Liefeld property is taking a stab at big screen relevance.
Prophet spun out of Liefeld’s “Youngblood” comic book which in turn was a more radical version of Marvel’s X-Force (which in turn was a more radical version of the X-Men). Imagine an angrier, more bloodthirsty version of Captain America. A World War II super soldier who was transformed from a homeless weakling into a man-meat beefcake thanks to the mad science of a time-traveling geneticist.
He was created to serve evil, but the doctor had a change of heart at the last minute and reprogrammed the soldier with a devout belief in God. He was frozen in time Winter Soldier style and awakened in the present where he squared off against the Youngblood team before branching out into his own series.
In recent memory, the title was deeply altered by independent cartoonist Brandon Graham. He reinterpreted the story of Prophet as a Dune-like space saga that stretched into the far future and across a myriad of galaxies. There the genes of the original Prophet have been replicated a thousand fold, and his clones fight for and against each other in the pursuit of cosmic meaning. Yeah, it’s Frank Herbert and Stanley Kubrick, but more extreme and radical and a total joy of a head trip to read.
No surprise, but this is not the version of the character we’ll be seeing anytime soon in the movies. As Liefeld explained to the Hollywood Reporter, “it’s a destination that we can arrive at if we are successful.” For now, the Studio 8 production company wants their own recognizable spandex badass. That means we’re gonna get the WWII super soldier.
As proved to be the case in the nineties, these suped-up and steroidal interpretations of classic comic book characters will keep audiences on their toes. At the very least, Prophet will accentuate what we like about the Marvel boy scout, and provide a realm to placate our more aggressive tendencies.