Exclusive Interview: Rob Liefeld Talks EXTREME UNIVERSE, DEADPOOL 2, CABLE, WOLVERINE And More!
A few weeks ago we had the chance to sit down with Rob Liefeld, the prominent comic book artists behind Extreme Universe and other notable works like X-Force, Deadpool, and New Mutants. In our extended conversation, Rob Liefeld had many thoughts to offer on a range of topics such as the Extreme Universe film adaptation, other upcoming movies like Logan and Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and the future of comic book adaptations in film and television.
Talking about the adaptation into a film franchise of his successful Extreme Universe comics, Rob confessed it was “overwhelming and exciting” to be working with producers Akiva Goldsman and Graham King, both of whom have the comic book and fantasy chops to spare. He explained that he expected work on the series to begin in earnest with a writing room in the next few months, as soon as Hollywood came back from the early-year vacation caused by the Sundance Film Festival and awards season.
On Logan, the upcoming and supposedly final Wolverine movie, Rob predicted that it would become “the most successful and most beloved of the Wolverine films.” For fans of Hugh Jackman, bummed that the star has stated this is his last incarnation of the role, Rob had a suggestion to get Jackman to come out of early retirement and join Ryan Reynolds in a Deadpool film—go watch Logan in droves.
Rob also talked about the direction of the genre generally. He pointed out that six of the top ten films of 2016 were comic adaptations, and noted the large number of offerings coming this year, such as Logan, Guardians, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman (in addition to Justice League, obviously). He noted that fans flock even to D.C. Comics films (which he called “mediocre”) because they loved the product, speculating that industry observers should “watch out” when D.C. manages to hit a home run.
Asked why he those adaptations hadn’t been as successful, he offered one word, “fun,” contrasting the funnier and more fun nature of movies like Guardians and Deadpool to the more serious tones of Suicide Squad or even Batman v. Superman. He astutely observed that the genre, which he theorizes had its rebirth with Iron Man in 2008, is entering a new phase now that it’s crossed into the adult-theme with Reynolds’ adaptation last year.
He also pointed out that to young fans of comics and their adaptations, such as his teenage children, the seriousness of some of the less-successful movies seemed like a parody, whereas the easy nature of the other films was more appealing.
We also asked him about the possibilities of a Fox and Marvel team, what would it take for Hugh Jackman to do one more crack at Wolverine and about the chances of adopting more comics into TV long forms like Daredevil, Game of Thrones, and Westworld.
So get a extra large cup a coffee and here is our long extended interview with our good friend Rob Liefeld…ENJOY!
Rob, first of all I want to congratulate you on the news that came out about Extreme Universe.
Rob Liefeld: Oh thank you sir, yeah, very excited.
How long did that take you to make it happen, to come to the big screen?
Rob Liefeld: The actual entire idea of this deal coming together and completing it took a year, literally 12 months. I told myself it would probably be six to seven months and then it still was a lot more complicated because there’s a lot of moving pieces. There’s the actual characters in my catalog, you know the comic books themselves, deals for Mr.Graham King, Mr. Akiva Goldman, myself. It was just you know you get lawyers and it slows everything down. It took a good long time, but it was this time last year that I met Akiva and Graham and they explained to me that they wanted to give this a shot and try to bring this together.
Akiva has made his expertise and his kind of specialty right now is being kind of a film show runner. He did it with Transformers film, ran that with writer’s room, he did it with the Hasbro properties, and he said “I want to do it for you, Your Universe.” I couldn’t turn that down.
Especially with his pedigree. I’m a huge fan of all his films. I’m a huge fan of all of Graham’s films. Having these two giant powerhouse producers together, it was really overwhelming and exciting and the possibilities are amazing. It was a really exciting opportunity and one that I immediately wanted to examine.
I mean now that it’s all out in the open, do you guys have a time frame, when can we expect this to hit the big screen?
Rob Liefeld: You know it starts in the writer’s room and I imagine we’ll probably in a couple of months assemble the first writer’s room. The thing is in Hollywood, especially January, everyone gets back from their vacations and then there’s Sundance as you know and everybody partakes in Sundance. The town doesn’t really activate again until February. Between awards ceremonies and the Sundance film festival, which is the biggest, you know that takes 14, 16 days away from people. Finalizing everything will be in the last stages of winter and then I imagine by spring we’ll be up and running and once the writer’s room gets selected, I mean I think things are going to … I know that we’ll be you know accelerating at a much quicker pace. It definitely won’t take the year that the deal took. I’m expecting everything’s going to come together really fast.
How much involvement will you be in let’s say the script process?
Rob Liefeld: Extremely involved. I wouldn’t partake in a deal that I was not a producer and in the room. I will be in the writer’s room as we craft these properties. I’m going to defer to … I mean one of us has an academy award and the other doesn’t for a screenplay. Obviously Akiva is very accomplished and I’m in absolute awe of his talent, but given that it’s … His team over the last year we talk all the time on the phone as they read through comics and we discuss the particulars, the characters, the relationships, the conflicts, different story lines that occur.
All year long, given that I always felt like the deal would be completed, I’ve been in constant contact with him, going back and forth kind of building the pre-notes of the Universe. The keyless guys and I on the same page. When we get into the room, we’ll be selecting those names and talking them out. There’s people that I would like to submit, I know they have some people. It’s great, again, also with Graham, Graham has a question about the comic books and the characters he gets on the phone he calls me and it’s a very open dialog. I’m too old to have agreed to be something where I sit on the sidelines, you know?
That said, 100% I’m going to defer to the and look forward to learning at the feet of these powerhouse film makers. I mean let’s go down the list here. From I am Legend, to Lone Survivor, to Hancock, to Mr. And Mrs. Smith, I’m a huge fan of Akiva’s work. Upcoming he’s got the Dark Tower, which I’m thrilled about. Again, Akiva has been in this genre world kicking ass. I think people forget he also was a producer on one of my favorite TV shows, Fringe. Fringe was just one of the best sci-fi series of the last decade. Obviously I’m going to learn at their feet.
Then between Graham and all of his accomplishments, I’d be a fool not to enjoy … I already have. I’m telling you, between these guys they have great stories. They have absolute, you know Graham is onset right now making Tomb Raider, but we talk about a couple times a week. Again, between World War Z, Argo, The Town, I mean Graham is very accomplished. He also won an Oscar for The Departed. I’m just trying to say, they were very welcoming in how I would be treated and I’m very fortunate that I get to learn from these guys.