Adapt This: “Incognito” by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips


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With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a cool comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from various comic creators and other industry experts about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.

This Week’s Book: Incognito by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Icon)

The Premise: Zack Overkill is a former supervillain living a heavily restricted, low-key life in witness protection after testifying against the world’s most dangerous kingpin of the “science villain” community. When he discovers that his powers are no longer being dampened by the government-issued drugs he’s required to take, he begins moonlighting as a superhero. But how long until his secret is discovered? And who will discover it first, the good guys or the bad guys?

The Pitch: After being optioned by 20th Century Fox way back in April 2010, there’s been little news on the “Incognito” movie front since October 2010. (In fact, it looks as if I was the last the person to get an update from Brubaker on the adaptation.) And since it seems criminal for a great story like this to languish in development hell, consider this another nudge to bring Brubaker and Phillips’ gritty story of supervillain redemption to the big screen.

Like much of Brubaker’s work, Incognito‘s noir-fueled storytelling environment lends itself well to adaptation, as audiences have embraced the notion of darker, grittier superhero stories set in a world not too different from our own. While the world of Incognito is no stranger to super-powered heroes and villains, they still operate on the fringes of public awareness and their clashes are often covered up by the government and media. People wearing capes and masks in public are more likely to be off their meds or institution-bound rather than stopping muggers or robbing banks.

In many ways, the world of Incognito is only a slightly more colorful version of Christopher Nolan’s Gotham, filled with bleak, gray buildings and shadowy alleys. And like the world Nolan created around his version of Batman, the addition of super-powered humans and bright costumes feels intensely foreign, making their rare appearances — and inevitable, explosive brawls — that much more thrilling. Much like the modern Batman franchise, Incognito offers a nice chance to focus on the story’s characters, but also provide some impressive, wildly destructive set pieces to pepper throughout the film.

That’s not to say that an “Incognito” movie would just be retreading well-worn ground, however.

An adaptation of Incognito would set itself apart from other “dark” comic book movies by giving the audience a main character that no one wants to root for at the start of the film. To put it bluntly, Zack Overkill is a scumbag at heart, and his initial decision to go the heroic route has nothing to do with noble aspirations. Still, given the right combination of screenwriter, director, and lead actor, Zack’s evolution from deplorable jerk to cheer-worthy hero could make for one of the most memorable character arcs we’ve seen on the big screen.

Casting Suggestions: When I spoke with Brubaker back in October 2010, he mentioned Leonardo DiCaprio and “Star Trek” star Chris Pine as actors likely to bring out the best in Zack Overkill, but it’s also easy to see someone like “The Dark Knight Rises” actor Tom Hardy doing well with the role. With liberal sampling of his performances in movies like “Inception” and “Bronson,” it’s not too hard to see the smug, self-possessed traits of Zack Overkill take shape.

There’s also a case to be made for Jon Hamm in the role, given that the world of Incognito feels tonally similar to the smokey, classically stylish universe inhabited by Hamm’s character in “Mad Men.” If the adaptation were to skew younger, someone like “The Social Network” actor Armie Hammer, who’s set to star in “The Lone Ranger,” could also provide a nice mix of tall, dark, and other noir-friendly attributes.

Would “Incognito” make a good movie? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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