EXCLUSIVE: Just when it seems we’ve seen every possible manifestation of superhero movie, 20th Century Fox has found an innovation. How about a supervillain who tries to survive in the witness protection program after he rats out his boss?
The studio has acquired screen rights to Incognito, a graphic novel series written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Sean Phillips. Robert Schenkkan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of The Kentucky Cycle, will write the screenplay. Peter Chernin and his Chernin Entertainment will produce with Circle of Confusion’s David Engel.
The protagonist is Zack Overkill, a ruthless villain who is powered by super strength. He is caught and rats out his boss, The Black Death. He goes into witness protection. He’s given a drug to dull his powers and takes a normal guy job as delivering the mail. By the time he discovers that messing with certain drugs restores his power, he has developed something of a conscience. He becomes a vigilante and soon, his exploits become known to The Black Death, who is out for revenge.
Brubaker is an accomplished comics writer for Marvel whose recent works include Captain America—his installment, The Death of Captain America made global headlines—as well as Daredevil and others. Brubaker’s graphic novel Sleeper is being developed at Warner Bros as a potential Tom Cruise vehicle, and he wanted to find a completely different twist on the superhero genre.
“He’s not your typical villain and I was trying to blend the trappings of pulp, comic and noir genres,” Brubaker told me. “Zack was raised to be his world’s equivalent of a supervillain. We’ve all seen the story of a good person who goes undercover and gets corrupted. This is a bad person forced to live among regular people, and how he’s affected by that. He once ran around with a mask, but now he’s got the fake name and the fake job. My goal was to have you rooting for him as he grows a conscience.”
Schenkkan most recently wrote Anabasis, the period epic drama which will be directed by District 13 helmer Patrick Allesandrin.