Page To Screen: R.I.P.D.

Uncovering the comics that are heading to the movies

What? A four issue supernatural comic book written by Peter M. Lenkov. It follows the titular Rest In Peace Department, a subdivision in the world of law and order where deceased cops are recruited to keep the creatures of Hell in check.

Who’s The Star? Well, there are two: lasso-slinging, trenchcoat-wearing, John Wayne-alike Roy Powell, who’s been hunting demons for almost 100 years and is just a few weeks away from retirement.

And then there’s Nick Cruz, a handsome young go-getter cop who’s just been blown to smithereens, recruited by the R.I.P.D., and is determined to find out who pulled the trigger.

What’s So Cool About It? Think Men In Black meets Red. With creatively gross hell creatures, some mighty fine artillery (not only do the R.I.P.D. get super-cool guns, there’s also the sword of Archangel Michael at play) and two wise-cracking heroes with solid iron danglies, it’s a genre-mashing thrillride that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Coolest Moment? It’s got be the segment in which Powell and Cruz discover a scene of domestic bliss is merely a front for demonic inter-species breeding. Needless to say, it ends in typically gory fashion.

Another Cool Bit? Every member of the R.I.P.D. squad has a glowy police badge stamped into their chest-flesh. Nifty.

Sample Dialogue? “What I wouldn’t give to chase a flesh and blood outlaw. The kind who knew how to stay dead” – Powell

Who’s Signed On To The Movie? Ryan Reynolds has long been attached to play Nick Cruz, continuing his monopoly on comic book franchises (after Green Lantern and Deadpool). Meanwhile, Jeff Bridges recently bagged the role of Powell (he’s obviously still loving the cowboy hat thing after True Grit), which had previously been offered to Hangover star Zach Galifianakis.

In the director’s chair is Robert Schwentke, who recently helmed other action-packed comic adaptation Red.

What’s The Latest News? After a fair amount of time spent – somewhat fittingly, given the subject matter – wallowing in development hell, things are finally looking up for the movie version of R.I.P.D. With Reynolds finding a gap in his work rota in which to squeeze it (seriously, this guy makes Santa Claus look like a slacker), shooting on R.I.P.D. kicks off September 2011.

In The Filmmakers’ Words: Director Schwentke told Collider last year that the movie R.I.P.D. will differ slightly from the comic R.I.P.D…

“I read the script and I just really fell in love with it. It’s a similar case of, I suppose, using the comic book as inspiration and trying to stay true to the spirit of it, even if you aren’t necessarily structuring the narrative in the same way that the comic book is structured.

I’m very, very excited by it because I also think that it’s a very special project again that has a lot of elements that I really respond to sort of at a molecular level. I feel like it’s going to give me the ability to mix those together for the first time. It’s got some buddy cop stuff in it and it has some romance in it. It has some action-comedy in it again. It’s going realty well. We are in the midst of re-writing it.

You know, I don’t think there’s a reason for either one to be R. I’m somewhat squeamish myself. I don’t think the rating issue should manifest itself in like pulling your punches. I think you can make movies that don’t have to pull their punches and don’t feel like they’ve been neutered by a rating.

So hopefully it doesn’t feel like you’re watching a PG-13 movie and that there were things that we weren’t able to do. To my eyes, Red doesn’t necessarily feel like a PG-13 movie, but it is. It doesn’t feel like an R-rated movie either, but it doesn’t feel like we were somehow… you know.”

Meanwhile, Reynolds told MTV in September 2010 that he’s keen to make both R.I.P.D. and Deadpool, but he’d only have time for one. That one seems to now be the former:

“Everything’s so fickle and so contingent on so many factors, aside from just an actor. And because it has an actor, and because these films have interested directors, it’s obviously likely that [‘Deadpool’ and ‘R.I.P.D.’ will] both get made. But I think it would be more likely that only one of them gets made with me.

They’re both movies I’m interested in, they’re both movies that are in fast-track development. But I never say I’m doing a movie until I break for lunch the first day. Because it’s such a crapshoot, this industry.”

In Closing: Though certain parts of Lenkov’s comic will of course be changed for the movie version of R.I.P.D., if Schwentke and co manage to retain the humour and grisly, demon-killing thrills of their source material, they’ve pretty much got a slam dunk on their hands.

It’ll be interesting to see just what they alter, of course. Presumably the demons will be less outrageous (the way they look in the comics, the only approach would be uber-expensive motion capture), while the trip to Hell at the comic’s climax will probably be downplayed for a less controversial showdown.

That’s pure conjecture at the moment, though. Lenkov’s comic is pretty out there, and certain elements don’t easily lend themselves to a movie adaptation. The core concept, though, does. I can easily see Schwentke playing up the buddy cop aspect of Powell and Cruz’s relationship, while shoving in a few demonic occurences to add flavour. A more complex conspiracy theory surrounding Cruz’s death would also add to a movie version, while I imagine the Ash (supernatural cocaine, essentially) will play a bigger role. Here’s hoping the wait’s been worth it.