Brubaker & Phillips’ ‘Coward’ Headed to the Big Screen

Criminal: Coward, cover by Sean Phillips

Hollywood is about to slip into the Undertow.

Variety reports that “Coward,” the first story line in Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal series is headed for the big screen. The project will be helmed by Twilight: Eclipse director David Slade. It should also be noted that Slade is attached to the upcoming Daredevil reboot and directed an episode of Breaking Bad this past season. But most encouragingly, Brubaker is scripting the adaptation himself.

The title itself refers to Leo, a thief and con artist occupying the lowest rungs of the Criminal underworld. According to the Variety article, Brubaker would’ve considered Ryan Gosling ideal casting had he not already appeared in another recent crime adaptation, Drive. Fans of the story line may recall that a second Criminal arc involving Leo is in the works, and Hunting Lane Films has first dibs on bringing that story to the screen as well.

With Incognito already optioned by Fox with Brubaker as co-producer, is Brubaker and Phillips’ upcoming Image series Fatale soon to follow?


  1. Yes!!!! Great news!

  2. Can’t wait. Is this Slade’s next film or is he doing Daredevil first? Here’s hoping Development Hell doesn’t rear its ugly head.

  3. “According to the Variety article, Brubaker would’ve considered Ryan Gosling ideal casting had he not already appeared in another recent crime adaptation, Drive.”

    I read the headline and my first thought was “Ryan Gosling would be perfect for this” 🙁

    Damn you Drive. (even though I love that movie)

  4. This series gets better with every volume, let’s hope it’s done well and received well so we can get a decade’s worth of sequels

  5. Brubaker on the script?!? I can’t believe it! This could really work! And Ryan Gosling would be a wonderful choice. But I’m not 100% sure about David Slade…

  6. Nice! Can’t wait!

    Does anyone think that Last of the Innocents would not be a good fit for a movie? I think it was the perfect use of the comic medium with the flashbacks looking like archie comics and wonder if it wouldn’t translate well onto the screen without them really taking out a lot of the original story.

    I think this is prob the best of the criminal series to adapt

  7. Does bleeding count?

  8. Oddly enough, I’m pretty underwhelmed by this news. Criminal is great, of course, but I can’t imagine it being improved upon or particularly re-imagined for the cinema. It was so perfect on the page, I just don’t see how they can match it – even with Brubaker writing the script.

    • Hear hear. I guess the comic will always be there though, so it’ll be cool to see a translation… no substitution for the original.

    • This news doesn’t take anything away from the comic. At worst it will expose more people to Brubaker’s awesomeness. Plus crime stories like this are far and few between in the film arena.

    • Oh sure, it doesn’t take away anything from the comic and it will be nice if it gets Brubaker and Phillips more readers, I’m just talking about my own feelings about it. And don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times when I am interested in seeing how a comic book translates to film but I would be very surprised if there is all that much to do with something that is so fully realized already.

  9. I’m happy for Brubaker, but I would have preferred an original Criminal tale for the big screen, rather than an adaptation.

  10. I’m a big fan of Brubaker’s comics but did anybody see Angel of Death? I’m pretty confident he could write a better Criminal but a comic and a screenplay are different beasts. Hope it’s a great success, though!

  11. I don’t see a problem with Ryan Gosling doing this movie eve though he did Drive, b/c of Leo’s facial hair making any actor who will portray seem much more distinguished in this film. Can’t wait until this comes out!!!!

  12. I hope this can capture the spirit of the comic. ‘Cuz it’s a damned fine comic book experience.

  13. This makes me a whole lot more excited for Daredevil too.

  14. Could be great in the right hands. Im dying to see something of LA confidential’s caliber. Im still waiting. Did i mention that Brubaker rocks. Hmmmm.. i think i have.. oh well… Ill try to keep it under a coupla dozen more times.

  15. This could be great, is it just me or did anyone feel that ‘drive’ captured the spirit of criminal pretty well and was as close to ‘criminal: the movie’ I’d seen up until this point.

    • Dont know if drive captured the spirit of criminal… but i sure loved the soundtrack…. and Drive was a unique move going experience… could have done with a different ending though…hmmm .. although then it may have been a little less like criminal then right?

  16. “The project will be helmed by Twilight: Eclipse director David Slade.”

    Well, fuck.

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      He didn’t write the movie or the book it was based on. He directed it. He also directed Hard Candy and an episode of Breaking Bad. Don’t brush him off because you don’t like Twilight.

    • do we really need an adaption of Criminal when crime films from the 70s exist? Re-watch Serpico or Mean Street

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      @edward Modern studios aren’t making the kind of bank from Serpico or Mean Streets that you might think. They get better results from producing new films in theaters.

    • Oh, you got me!

      or they could make something new, that’s not derivative of something old, to make cash, yes?

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      I don’t disagree with that, but I do disagree with the premise that crime adaptations aren’t worthwhile. I like Serpico and Mean Streets, but I also like Drive and Gone Baby Gone.

    • yeah, Paul, that’s not what i said. is it? I ask this it’s worthwhile making these circular adaptions. Where criminal is based, if not directly, than tonely and atmospherically on 70s crime films which is in turn made into a 2011 crime film aping a 70s’ style

      Not that crime films should not be made

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      The crime films I listed are set in modern times with tonal or atmospheric nods to the past. They are good movies and I don’t feel they’re redundant. It should also be said that Coward is one of the Criminal arcs set in a modern era, so we don’t know whether the filmmakers will embrace the retro stylings of the overall series or simply utilize the plot and situations. Either way though, there’s great opportunity for entertainment and craft. Creativity isn’t about making something from nothing, it’s about taking what resources are available to solve a problem. In this case, telling an entertaining and compelling story. If they want to mine tropes from the past that people continue to enjoy today and juxtapose them with modern methods and sensibilities, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can be a worthwhile experiment.

  17. The discussion above between Paul and Edward is hilarious. Not because of the words, but because it is funny to watch their lil’ pictures debate while they wink at each other.

  18. Awesome, congrats to Brubaker and Phillips!

  19. If the movie’s half as good as the comic i’ll be a happy man.