Warren Ellis' Comic 'Red' Also Being Adapted

June 12, 2008

Warren Ellis' Comic 'Red' Also Being Adapted

Famed comic book author Warren Ellis is finally getting his big break in Hollywood. Late last week we announced that Ellis' Ocean was being adapted by Warner Brothers. Now Ellis' comic series Red is heading to the big screen, too. Published by WildStorm / DC Comics, Red is a brutal comic that focuses on a CIA killer named Paul Moses. Brothers Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber, who also wrote the adaptations of Whiteout and Alice, are writing the screenplay for Red. Summit Entertainment, of Memento, The Brothers Grimm, and the upcoming Twilight, is developing the adaptation with Transformers and G.I. Joe producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura on board to produce as well.

RedThe three-issue comic series, first published in 2003, tells the story of a former black-ops CIA agent now living a quiet life in retirement until the day a high-tech assassin shows up to kill him. With his secret identity compromised and his love interest in danger, the man must reassemble his old team to figure out who is out to get them. The Hoebers' take involves the idea of an older operative set in his ways having to contend with younger and more fit agents as well as modern techniques and technology. Although DC Comics is owned by Warner Brothers, it took nearly two years to get the production rights for Red out of their grasp. Let's hope the Hoeber Brothers have written a great script.

As if all too often the case, I'm not familiar with this comic, but it sounds good. At this point, almost anything written by anyone who's a big name in comics and has a cool concept will probably sound like a cool adaptation. I actually think the concept could make for a deeper story than expected. I really just hope that the Hoeber Brothers focus on the drama and tragedy of the situation instead of humor. I could easily see Red becoming a comedy about the lunatics of an old CIA agent trying to get back in the groove with younger agents and new technology. But really, that would turn out terrible, and I hope that's not the direction they chose to go in. Will definitely be a project to keep my eye on.

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I normally never complain about comic to film adaptions, as it's almost always a necessary imperative to manipulate the source material for the screen (I know there have been MANY horrors committed this way - let's not get into that!). This time however, I'm taking a stand. RED is one of my favourite Image shorts, a three-issue mini-series as brutal and explosive as they come. The central premise is great (no spoilers from me) and the main character, a grizzled old government black ops officer, is compelling, if under developed. The problem is that I can already see how far the screen play could deviate from the quality of the short tale. A high-tech assassin does not come to kill him, it's a three-man hit squad. Old school. He doesn't work with a team, he's a loner. He doesn't have a love interest. Everything that made him feel fresh in the comic is being turned into something predictable. Thanks Hollywood. This time I'm angry. Ellis deserves better.

Mrbobbyboy on Jun 12, 2008


After reading the article, it seems pretty obvious that the article's writer got the plot wrong, not the guys writing the script. The article clearly implies that those (bizarrely inaccurate) details are the script of the original comic book, not the planned script of the movie. It's either poor writing (no offense meant, but it can't be read as anything but a description of the original) on the author's part, and that is the movie's intended script, or it's poor research, and the author has no clue what he's talking about. yeah, don't worry yourself that much.

Doc on Jun 12, 2008


Actually, you can read on Warren Ellis' blog ( exactly how it's going to turn out: They'll be adapting the concept for the big screen. It won't be a straight conversion from the comic to the screen, unfortunately. But I'd still like to see it.

Chris @ on Jun 12, 2008


Yeah, someone linked me to that a few hours ago. I can understand the need for it to be expanded. The book's only 3 issues long, but the way the article reads is that the book's original plot is about all that stuff, and it clearly isn't.

Doc on Jun 13, 2008


I'm sure they'll rearrange the script so it reads nothing like the comic. Sort of what they did to ‘Wanted’ where the first 15 or so minutes of the movie was the comic almost frame by frame. After that nothing in the movie ‘Wanted’ is anything like the rest of comic ‘Wanted’. Super villains were replaced by an Assassin group. Not that it wasn’t an entertaining movie, but they could have changed the name to ‘Wanted: sort of…maybe”. Back to RED, I read the graphic novel recently and was searching on the ‘internets’ if the author was writing a prequel. That’s when I found out there was a movie in the works and one website quotes the re-written plot as “…a former black-ops CIA agent now living a quiet life in retirement until the day a high-tech assassin shows up intent on killing him. With his secret identity compromised and his love interest in danger, the man must reassemble his old team to figure out who is out to get them…”. There is no ‘love interest’ and there is no ‘old team’. The agent Paul Moses’ (Willis) only interaction with a female in the comic is when he calls into his CIA case agent. When asked his status Moses replies, “Green” or not active. He’s old and lonely she lends an ear. At CIA headquarters the new politically appointed CIA Director (possibly Freeman?) is walked into a private room named ‘R’ by the current Deputy Director of Operations and shown video/files of what agent Moses has done for the Agency. The new Director walks out of the room hours later sweating and babbling “My god. One man. My god.” This tells us clearly that agent Moses doesn’t work with a team. We are never told what the Director saw that makes him want him dead. Another thing I’m sure they’ll screw up is making us believe Willis/Moses doesn’t understand or need new technology. In the comic we find out Moses is very tech/computer savvy. We learn this after the failed attempt on his life at his house and he calls CIA headquarters and when asked his current status he replies, “RED”. It’s a very quick and fun read and if they do anything right with this movie they’ll not change the ending.

Thomas on Sep 22, 2009

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