Superhero Anthology Astro City Headed to Big Screen

There is a lot of news coming in from the San Diego Comic Con. Nestled among the panel discussions and sneak previews of the next few years’ worth of summer blockbusters is the news that Working Title Films has acquired the rights to Astro City, the award winning comic book series created by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross.

While Astro City might not be a recognizable property like Green Lantern or Captain America, there’s a reason the casual movie fan should care about this news — mainly, Astro City is flat-out incredible. The comic, published as a series of miniseries, tells about life in a superhero-filled city. Heroes like Samaritan, Winged Victory, the Hanged Man and Jack-in-the-Box fly through the sky protecting the citizens — all the while experiencing their own emotional hangups and family problems.

Each of the heroes is representative of a larger comic book archetype. For example, Samaritan is your standard-issue Superman stand-in. Under the pen of writer Busiek, though, what could have been a stereotypical character is painted with layer upon layer of depth. Blessed with god-like powers, Samaritan is cursed by a strangling guilt that compels him to be constantly alert and devote every waking moment of his life to saving people.

Since first debuting 15 years ago, Astro City has won twenty Eisner and Harvey Awards. Working Title Films has produced films such as Love Actually, O’ Brother, Where Art Thou? and Shaun of the Dead. Ben Barenholtz will executive produce the film along with Jonathan Alpers and Kurt Busiek, who is also writing a treatment for the movie.

The Buzz: Astro City comes at a time where audiences are being overwhelmed with comic book and superhero related films. What could help the movie stand out from the crowd, though, is the comics’ structure as an anthology. The fictional city that the story takes place in is packed with a wide range of interesting characters and concepts. I would love to see a connective anthology film in the nature of Go, Trick ‘r’ Treat or Pulp Fiction — but told with superheroes.

Busiek could always decide to center the film around one or two characters instead of trying to retain the book’s varied structure but I hope he and Working Title see the chance to do something unique with Astro City.

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