At last, Robert Kirkman’s long-running superhero comic Invincible is getting the big screen treatment that’s expected in 2017. Following the exploits of teenager Mark Grayson, Invincible is an epic tale about fathers and sons wrapped in homages to vintage Superman and Golden Age comics. But what could make the property stand out from the Marvel and DC monoliths is that it’s being shepherded by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, two auteurs who are proving that their understanding of the genre runs circles against almost anyone else today.
This week, The Hollywood Reporter learned that Goldberg and Rogen will direct, write, and produce a feature film of Invincible, which began in 2003 and will conclude with its 144th issue this year. It’s the first movie out of Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment (a subsidiary of the world-class Image Comics), which also birthed the monster zombie comic The Walking Dead, another Kirkman creation. So it was only a matter of time before Invincible would be optioned.
But big adaptations of popular comics aren’t always a guaranteed hit — see the recent Ghost in the Shell remake, which landed with a deafening thud — so it was important that Skybound nail a creative team that could make Invincible true to its title. Enter: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
When it comes to traditional comedies, Rogen and Goldberg are palatable; This is the End, Neighbors, The Interview, and The Night Before are all reliably funny, depending on one’s mileage. But when it comes to comic books and superheroes, their style morphs the popular genre into something almost avant-garde.
The Green Hornet was buried at the box office and Seth Rogen has admitted it wasn’t a pleasurable film to work on. But with Michel Gondry in the director’s chair, the pulpy radio vigilante became a subversive superhero comedy in which Rogen’s privileged, white billionaire lead was clueless to his incompetence as he began a crime-fighting career. Arriving a year before the flashpoint that was The Avengers, The Green Hornet already took aim at tired archetypes represented by Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen, and Danny Rand.
Last summer, Rogen and Goldberg teamed up for AMC’s Preacher, a TV adaptation of the influential ‘90s comic from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon in which a cursed minister travels across America looking to find and fight God. While the buzz around Preacher subdued by the fall, its freshman year showed a knack for violent tonal shifts that was utterly mesmerizing. It was a show in which people spontaneously imploded into bursts of guts and blood, and where tense, suspenseful moments were disrupted by rap-loving youths with ass faces. Thank the heavens that Season 2 is on the way.
There’s a lot of material in Kirkman’s Invincible for Rogen and Goldberg to work with. A comic that honors and also subverts decades of superhero tropes is bound to err on the side of parody. However seditious of superheroes Rogen and Goldberg’s Invincible may be, at least it’ll be funny.