Breaking news: Comic books are hot priorities for movie adaptations these days. Marvel obviously heads the pack with DC in hot pursuit, thanks in part to the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the recent casting of Ben Affleck as the new Batman/Bruce Wayne. Because of their success, smaller comics publishers are also enjoying an uptick in exposure and an interest in seeing their material brought to the big screen. The adaptations of these relatively obscure stories will continue to push the boundaries of both filmmaking techniques and audiences’ imaginations. In an effort to bring more attention to one such series of comic book stories (which surprisingly has an adaptation already in early development), today we’ll be visiting Coheed and Cambria frontman Claudio Sanchez’s long-running creation. Hit the jump for more. Hollywood! Adapt this: The Amory Wars.
An epic sci-fi tetralogy, The Amory Wars is set in Heaven’s Fence, a collection of 78 planets held in place by the Keywork (interconnecting beams of energy). The story at first follows protagonists Coheed and Cambria Kilgannon in their struggle against the Supreme Tri-Mage, Wilhelm Ryan (later referred to as the Archmage). Ryan, along with his second-in-command, Mayo Deftinwolf, orchestrates a plot to murder the Kilgannon children in order to use the dormant Monstar virus hidden within Coheed to destroy the Keywork. The second half of the story focuses on the heroic journey of their surviving son, the messianic Claudio Kilgannon. After a number of trials, Claudio assumes the mantle of The Crowing, the foretold savior of Heaven’s Fence. Ultimately, he will face the Archmage, absolute ruler of Heaven’s Fence and the architect behind the death of Claudio’s family.
There is so, so, so much more to The Amory Wars, including colorful side character such as Al, the sexually-frustrated and psychopathic sniper; Ambellina, a dragonfly-like creature known as a Prise who guides Claudio along his journey; and Ten Speed of God’s Blood & Burial, a 10-speed bicycle that represents the Writer’s will. It’s got more political interweaving and family drama than Star Wars and Dune combined, but it certainly doesn’t lack for action as it includes massive space battles, planetary invasions and galactic warfare. [Correction: "Ambelina is more of an Angel-like creature known as a Prise. The Syringa is the dragonfly creature that carries half of the Monstar virus that activates Coheed." Thanks for the clarification!]
How Could / Why Should It Be Adapted?
In today’s comic book culture, it’s easy for new and original material to get lost in the sea of similar stories all attempting to make a dent in the industry and land that next big franchise deal. So how does one make themselves stand out? How about creating an epic sci-fi story that is brought to life not only in the pages of comics but also realized in a series of best-selling concept albums? Yeah, that’ll do it.
The majority of fans have probably been introduced to The Amory Wars without even knowing it, by hearing one single or another from Coheed and Cambria. What could easily be brushed off as a catchy pop-rock song actually leads into an incredibly dense and complicated mythology that’s been brewing in comic book form since at least 2005, and in Sanchez’s music as early as 1995. It’s an amazing world to delve into and, at times, overwhelming, since it’s difficult to piece together a linear story from the comics (some of which are out of print or incredibly difficult/expensive to get ahold of) or even the albums (which had been released out of order and are subject to wide-ranging interpretation). However, the rare combination of musical expression with a mature and original storyline that’s already been visualized in comic form makes The Amory Wars tailor-made for a big screen adaptation.
The Final Word:
While Mark Wahlberg and Leverage have announced a production partnership with Sanchez and Evil Ink comics to bring the property to the big screen, little more has been heard on the development since then. The story is far too big to be told in one simple feature, so a franchise is absolutely necessary to do justice to the story. Personally, I think it could work as a live-action feature franchise, but I’d love to see some of the side-stories or interstitials told in an animated format, which would free up the creative expression of the stories and likely be a more efficient use of the budget. However it gets done, The Amory Wars is too rich a story to be left on the shelves. Even though Sanchez is involved with the picture, it remains to be seen just how true to the original story the adaptation would be. I would much rather patiently await a version that hits closer to Sanchez’s vision than see a rushed release of a studio production that doesn’t do The Amory Wars justice, especially as an introduction to audiences who are unfamiliar with the property. That being said, fans (myself included) will likely be waiting a long, long time to see anything at all; I hope I’m wrong!
Be sure to tune in next weekend for the next installment of Hollywood! Adapt This! Feel free to leave us your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!