Book to Box Office: We3

Based On: We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

Expected Release Date: None. Instead, we’re considering how a film version might work.

Director: None, though we have a suggestion.

Summary: From the publisher:

We3

Vertigo Comics

With nervous systems amplified to match their terrifying mechanical exoskeletons, the members of Animal Weapon 3 (WE3) have the firepower of a battalion between them. But they are just the program’s prototypes, and now that their testing is complete, they’re slated to be permanently “decommissioned,” causing them to seize their one chance to make a desperate run for freedom. Relentlessly pursued by their makers, the WE3 team must navigate a frightening and confusing world where their instincts and heightened abilities make them as much a threat as those hunting them – but a world, nonetheless, in which somewhere there is something called “home.”

Working For It: Morrison’s story is effective, scary, exciting, and heartbreaking. It is a simple tale of animals trying to find their way home, along with some terrifying ideas about the military-industrial complex, what it means to be self-aware, animal cruelty, and the ownership of living things. It has all the hallmarks of a Morrison story in that it is intensely unpredictable, clever, and so full of ideas it feels like there needs to be ten more books to follow up on the world-building that’s been put in place.

Working Against It: Though there are human characters, the majority of the emotion leg work is handled by three animals for whom language is something new. This isn’t going to be a Homeward Bound situation in which the animals converse in full sentences voiced by actors in a sound studio. Much of this book relies upon giving everything a second read and really concentrating, which is easy when you can stare at the same page for an hour if you want to. A movie is going to be faster and, if it requires 100% attention, may lose people who just want to see a cat riddle someone with machine gun bullets. The temptation for a filmmaker to move most of the emotion and character work from the animals to the humans would miss the point of this entire story, even if it would make for easier watching.

Wild Card: The book is filled with heavy stuff and doesn’t pull punches. A good filmmaker with an idea for visuals and a mastery of integrating CGI would also need to be fearless with the material and capture some of the utterly heartbreaking events and images of the book if they really wanted to do it justice. A filmmaker like Guillermo del Toro would be perfect for this as he is someone who has proven his willingness to be ruthless with his characters to get the best story on the screen.

Verdict: We3 will probably never be adapted for some of the reasons listed above, but that might be okay considering that Frank Quitely’s art is so cinematic that we’ve practically got a movie version every time we open the book.

Featured Image: Vertigo Comics