Sometimes, just sometimes, someone sends you a lead on a story that you just couldn’t make up. Something so out-there, so bizarre, that the deeper you go the weirder it gets. What if I were to tell you that Nicolas Cage was going to be playing another comic book hero? Would that get your attention? Sure it would. Now what if I were to tell you that this story was about to get weirder? MUCH weirder.
What if I told you that this is a comic book character from a comic book called The Sidhu, which is just six months old? About a turn-of-the-century British soldier who becomes an Indian mystic superhero. By a new comic book company started by Richard Branson (yes, THAT Richard Branson). Written by famed Indian spiritualist self-help writer Deepak Chopra (yes, THAT Deepak Chopra). And directed by the director of Elizabeth (yes, THAT Elizabeth). At that point I’ve pretty much got your attention, right? Yeah. I thought so.
I know. It sounds pretty freaking weird. But, really, it’s beginning to make a strange sort of sense. Let’s look at all the pieces. Branson’s company, Virgin Comics (big surprise in naming there), is an interesting venture. It’s based in India, with a slant on focusing upon Indian mythology/spiritualism and introducing it to the West through comics. They’ve hired some of the coolest, most interesting guys in the world – people like Guy Ritchie, John Woo, and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics – to create new series and heroes, then turn them over to pro writers (like Garth Ennis) and let them rip.
The Sadhu, as strange as it may sound, actually isn’t a bad comic book. It’s essentially a turn-of-the-century Batman/Shadow story, in which a British soldier whose family is murdered by his psychotic superior officer barely escapes death himself. He’s taken in by a mystic Sadhu who has seen the future and knows this man’s destiny. So he teaches him the ways of his power. If Batman went off to become a Jedi, that would be The Sadhu. What makes the story interesting, however, is the contribution by Deepak Chopra, who seeds the training flashbacks with real-world Hindu mysticism. You know what they say about a spoonful of sugar? It certainly is an interesting way to introduce folks to an oft-neglected (at least on this continent) religion/mythology.
But this latest move seems to hint at a much bigger game plan. There’s this deal with Nicolas Cage to star as The Sadhu, with aspirations of filming in India next year. At the same time, long-time comic book fan Cage has co-created a comic book property for Virgin, titled Enigma. One can only imagine that perhaps Ritchie and Woo might have scripts in the works to bring their visions to the screen as well, with Virgin’s money backing them. Could this be a springboard to launch Indian-made films that could be epic blockbusters over here?
And its not like they’ve turned the film over to your run-of-the-mill Hollywood-type director, either. No, they’ve hired genius Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth, Four Feathers) to helm it. Now here’s a guy who has one hell of an eye. This is gearing up to be an interesting project. This could be a sweeping, action-comic book epic starring an academy award winner – a new Matrix, introducing a philosophy to folks through the medium of ass-kicking. Or it could be one of the most spectacularly bizarre failures of our time. It’s kind of like watching Evil Knievel jump 16 cars. It doesn’t matter whether he makes it or not. Either way, it’s gonna be fascinating. I wait with baited breath, and you can bet your sweet bippy that I’m gonna keep on top of this the whole way through.
C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me