One of the surprise announcements at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego is that Top Cow Productions is working on a film adaptation of The Darkness with Mandeville Films. The comic book series has already spawned a well-received video game, with a sequel coming early next year from 2K Games.
Top Cow CEO Marc Silvestri sat down for a brief chat with Comic Book Resources about what’s planned for the movie. It’s all in the very early stages — “We’re at the ‘no comment’ stage,” Silvestri said with a sly grin — but there’s already a pretty strong idea of where things will hopefully go.
“It’s definitely an origin story — we have to introduce people to who [protagonist Jackie Estacado] is,” Silvestri explained. “The thing is, we have a really cool origin for him and a really well-realized character that people can relate to, even though he’s surrounded by this fantastic s—.
“It’s not going to be cheap, and we’re going to get A-list people on there,” the creator continued. “[It’s something] that talent can really attach themselves to and put their mark on. The audience is ready for it. The audience has seen The Dark Knight. So now it’s like, how do we turn that up to 11 with The Darkness?”
That origin story has of course been explored in the comics and was later retold in the first game. It’s a necessary introduction, since so much of the story laid out in The Darkness hinges on how the main character deals with these powers he possesses. That, in turn, feeds into the story’s deeper subtextual elements.
“Jackie is, strangely enough, a very relatable character,” Silvestri said. “I always compare him to Superman, because I created Jackie to be the opposite of Superman. Jackie doesn’t have these great foster parents; his parents are assholes. His birthright is this curse. He didn’t want it. He didn’t want anything to do with it. I love the fact that Jackie has this dichotomy where he’s his worst enemy and his biggest ally. He literally has to fight himself to survive. We’re gonna hit all of those things with the movie, because all of those things are in the comic and in the video games.”
Silvestri also mentioned one of the key departures the games make from the comic books: eliminating Jackie’s costume. It’s a move he regards as a “great decision,” since the character’s powers manifest so visibly as a pair of demon arms. Silvestri didn’t say if the film version of Jackie will wear a costume, but it certainly sounds like that’s not the plan for now.
The next Darkness game delves deeper into the series’ lore, introducing an antagonistic faction from the comic known as the Brotherhood. This group covets Jackie’s power over the Darkness and wants to claim it from him. Once again, Silvestri wouldn’t say for sure if the movie will include the Brotherhood, though he laid out why the group is so important within the larger story.
“They’re a big part of his history, and I think it’s really smart that we’re bringing them into the second game,” he said. “It’s really reflective of who [Jackie] is because it establishes what the Darkness is and why some people want it.
“Jackie spends almost all of his time trying to get rid of it,” Silvestri continued. “It’s the only thing that keeps saving him, but it’s also destroying his life. The Brotherhood kind of comes in and gives a bit of insight into what this power is, why it’s so seductive, why someone would want it and what kind of person would want it. And it also shows what kind of person [Jackie] is because he doesn’t want it.”
As you can see, not a ton of specifics on the movie have emerged thus far. Not that it’s any surprise; there’s no script yet, no director, no talent of any kind assembled beyond the top-level producers. Silvestri did reveal one specific aim for the film though, something that will help guide the story’s development.
“We’re not going to pull any punches [with the reached-for MPAA rating],” he said. “You look at The Dark Knight, it came out the same time as Wanted. Wanted was an R-rated movie, but Dark Knight was PG-13, but I look at both of those movies and think Dark Knight was a lot darker. Thematically it was very, very depressing and brutal.
“So we’re going to start with the R, and we’re going to write it that way, and if we go that way, fine. But if we have to, we can still make a really dark and entertaining PG-13. That being said, we’re going for the R.”