Black Panther director Ryan Coogler is lending his producing prowess to another comic book movie, as he has signed on to produce an adaptation of the Image Comics series Bitter Root along with his wife Zinzi Evans, as well as his Fruitvale Station collaborator Sev Ohanian.
Bitter Root was created by David F. Walker and Sanford Greene along with Chuck Brown. According to Deadline, which broke the news, the comic is set during the vibrant Harlem Renaissance of 1924 and follows “a fractured family of once-great monster hunters who must face an unimaginable evil that descends upon New York City. For generations, the Sangeryes have hunted and cured those infected by a supernatural force that feeds off the prejudice of the era, transforming human beings into hideous monsters. But their heyday has faded, and with most of the family dead and the surviving Sangeryes at odds between saving or killing these creatures, the remaining Sangeryes must overcome the wounds of the past in the hopes of thwarting an invasion.”
With monsters that feed off of hate and prejudice, it’s easy to imagine what Coogler saw in this project, especially seeing how the targets of hate and prejudice change from era to era, and country to country. That’s an interesting idea, because it means that the face of the enemy changes too. It used to be easier to identify people who had hate in their hearts, but these days, it’s harder than ever to know who’s going home at night and fanning the flames of prejudice on social media under its cloak of anonymity. Can such monsters be saved, or do they all deserve to meet their maker? And what happens if, God forbid, they ever become organized and actually plot a mass “invasion,” as it’s referred to above? This family, the Sangeryes, may be humanity’s only hope, and the world needs all the heroes it can get, because there will always be villains and people who fear those who they see as different than them.
Image Comics has published five issues of Bitter Root thus far. The most recent issue was released on March 20, and just one week later it was announced that Legendary has acquired the rights. Bitter Root was subsequently nominated for an Eisner Award for Best New Series, and a 2019 Ringo award for Best Series.
Walker, Greene and Brown will executive produce the movie with Drapetomedia’s Sean Owolo, while Legendary executives Jon Silk and Disney Hall will oversee the project for on behalf of the studio.
Coogler is in the midst of writing the Black Panther sequel for Marvel, which is planning a return to Wakanda in 2022. He’s also a producer on Space Jam 2, which counts Ohanian as an executive producer. Coogler made his bones directing Fruitvale Station and Creed before joining the Marvel family, and Evans is becoming more active in producing projects alongside him, similar to how fellow A-list filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and David Fincher work hand-in-hand with their own spouses. Coogler is represented by WME, while Searching producer Ohanian is repped by CAA.