For this week’s “Adapt This” column, I decided to break from tradition a bit and recommend a book that’s already been optioned, but doesn’t seem to have had much movement in Hollywood since it was picked up. I was thrilled when it was first announced that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ gritty superhero noir Incognito was optioned by Fox back in April 2010, because the story would make a great movie if it’s handled properly.
Incognito tells the story of a former supervillain living in witness protection after testifying against a powerful, super-powered criminal kingpin. When the government meds he’s forced to take stop inhibiting his powers, he finds himself moonlighting as super-powered vigilante and dabbling in the more heroic side of things. Naturally, his secret life doesn’t stay secret for very long, and he ends up being pursued by both the bad guys and the good guys as he tries to figure out which side of the hero/villain balance he’s going to land on.
Here’s an excerpt from the column:
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.
You can read the rest of the column at IFC.com, and if you haven’t had a chance to read Incognito yet, make sure to do so. It’s excellent.