While much of my conversation last week with iconic comics writer Grant Morrison was focused on his revolutionary approach to DC's "Batman & Robin" series (if you aren't reading it, you should be), I also managed to get an update on a few other projects he's been involved with over the years — including plans for a movie based on his 2004 miniseries "We3."
The three-issue story followed a trio of animals who are made into weapons by the government but manage to escape captivity. Armed with deadly robotic implants, encased in armor and given limited ability to speak, the animals must outrun the military and overcome various other threats to their newfound freedom.
"Kung-Fu Panda" director John Stevenson had been attached to an adaptation of the series back in December 2008 (featuring a script by Morrison), but there's been little word from the "We3" camp since that time. According to the comic's creator, the lack of movement on the project is a bit frustrating, given the high regard critics and fans alike have for the story.
"People don’t seem to realize how great of a project it is," Morrison told MTV News. "To me, if they make a movie of 'We3,' it’s basically a new 'ET.' Everybody’s going to be weeping as they walk out of the cinema at the end."
"It’s the kind of movie you can watch in China or India or America or Scotland, because it’s about animals," he added. "Everyone can identify with the literal underdog."
One thing he believes is hampering the project is the perceived level of violence in the story. While the original comic was full of brutal imagery depicting the lethal talents of its weaponized animal stars, Morrison said his screenplay removes much of that violence.
In fact, he said, very little of the violence was absolutely necessary to the story.
"I’m quite surprised that people haven’t quite got the tone o fit, and I think the violence in the comic frightened off a lot of people," he explained. "In the script, we took all of that violence out. ['We3' artist] Frank Quitely only drew the violence because his kids were goading him on. [Laughs] Unfortunately, it kind of scares people off, because they don’t think it could be a family film."
"I think it would be a great movie, and the screenplay is even better than the comic," said Morrison. "I was able to add a few scenes in there that I had to leave out of the comic due to space. I would say it’s an even better story. It’s tighter. It's smarter."
As for the current status of the project, Morrison said it's in a holding pattern at the moment, though Stevenson is still attached and he receives occasional updates as it makes its way around Hollywood.
"It’s just around and about, you know?" he said. "John Stevenson still wants to be involved, but nothing’s moving on it right now."
"I hope we see some movement on it," he added. "I hear about it every couple of weeks. [Producer] Don Murphy calls me up and fills me in on the very slow progress of the thing."
Think "We3" can work without the violence? Want to see the movie made? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!