Irredeemable‘s conceit is simple: “what happens when a good hero goes bad?” But unlike other maligned superhero stories, Mark Waid doesn’t pull back and doesn’t make the Plutonian — you guessed it — redeemable. The combined forces of his former team-mates try to mount a resistance, but are continually torn apart by the Plutonian and their own internal strife.
As one of the most popular new superhero stories of the modern era, Irredeemable is also one that’s been rumored for movie development for years. In a way, Will Smith’s Hancock touched briefly on this story but fell apart after the first act. Irredeemable is a blueprint for doing a decidedly different kind of story, if you can find the filmmakers with enough cojones to make it. Here’s who could — and should — do it.
Mark Waid and Peter Krause have done a lot of a movie screenwriter’s work for them; the first two arcs, issues #1 through 8, would make an ideal movie with only minor tweaks. We get a concise look at how the Plutonian went back, and rush into his full-on destruction of the world and the Paradigm trying to mount a defense to stop him. It’s like a Godzilla movie but with a hero-gone-mad, and only the reveal that the twins’ superpowers are in one body to stop him temporary ends with a good cliffhanger. We couldn’t ask for movie-goers to cheer the bad buy, but I think wondering if he’s truly defeated could be a great end to the first film — and perhaps the start of a franchise.
To accomplish this distorted view of super-heroes, I’d enlist director Doug Liman. Best known for his work on The Bourne Identity, his work on other films like Go and Fair Game sell me entirely on his take on the book series. He’s currently working on a time-travel/aliens flick with Tom Cruise called We Mortals Are, and he’d need that kind of big budget special effects experience to pull off Irredeemable. And he’s have to work hard to get this film out of the shadow of the heavily hyped Hancock, but I think he has all the pieces he needs to do that and then some.
Plutonian – Matt Damon: Before Bourne Identity people might have had a hard time seeing Matt Damon as anythin other than a boy scout, but it’s been inside him all along. As the Plutonian, Damon could channel his anger as seen in the Bourne trilogy as well as in Dogma to really make a believable good guy gone bad.
Samsara – Dev Patel: Samsara is Plutonian’s sidekick, but Mark Waid played up the nuances of him to be more than just another boy wonder. This ex-Skins actor could really deliver a unique performance and stay afloat beside a mad Matt Damon.
Bette Noir – Olivia Wilde: House‘s Olivia Wilde could play the femme fatale with some deep secrets better than most any other starlet out there.
Charybdis & Scylla – Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Coster-Waldau stepped up his career when he took on the role of Jamie Lannister in Game of Thrones, and he’d be warmly welcomed in the dual roles of twin brothers Charybdis and Scylla.
Qubit – Justin Theroux: As the resident computer whiz of Irredeemable, it’d be easy for Qubit to be played by any bespeckled cast-off from Big Bang Theory, but instead I’d enlist the David Lynch player Justin Theroux. Better known these days as the boyfriend of Jennifer Aniston, Theroux played a great John Hancock in the recent John Adams HBO series, and recently wrapped up an extended arc on Parks & Recreation.
Modeus – Martin Shaw: As manipulative as they come, Modeus is seen little during the first Irredeemable comic arc but I’d still give this role some heft with UK all-star actor Martin Shaw. A relative unknown in the U.S., he played the title role in the UK series Judge John Deed and would be an ideal inhabitor of the Modeus role.