Ask (Jan. 6, 2009)


Q: What’s the latest on the movie version of the Y: The Last Man
graphic novel series? I know Brian K. Vaughan is working on it,
so I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

Shelby, Billings, Montana

A: You’re in luck! just asked
director D.J. Caruso about the status of the project just last week.

First, a quick rundown of the comic/movie for those of you not familiar with
it: Y: The Last Man is about a mysterious plague that has killed every
man on earth except Yorick Brown (and his monkey Ampersand), and his attempts
to outrun a tribe man-hating Amazons and find his girlfriend Beth in Australia,
while figuring out (with the help of a female bio-engineer) who/what caused
the "gendercide," why he survived, and how to repopulate the planet.
The Israeli army is also a factor in the story (they’re now most organized group
on the planet, since they were the most gender-integrated military group before
the plague).

Amazons, left, and Yorick in Y: The Last Man

There are lesbian characters in the series, including in the first five issues
(which the movie version is based on), but their sexual orientation isn’t revealed
until later in the series, which means there’s a good chance this information won’t make it into the movie, either.

Shia LaBeouf (Transformers, Disturbia) has reportedly been cast
in the lead role. No other casting news has been announced, but one of the producers
is eyeing
Alicia Keys for the prominent role of Agent 355, a who is Yorick’s protector
and guide.

Agent 355 in Y: The Last Man

Here’s what Caruso told ComingSoon about the status of the film, which has
yet to start production:

I think it’s one of those that the source material is fantastic stuff, it’s
great, but it’s a tough one to lick into getting into a screenplay. I’ve tried
to feel like it’s a trilogy of movies and I think everyone sort of agrees,
but at the same time, just getting the first movie right and getting the right
beats and knowing what to put in, it’s been really tough … I know it’s a
slow process, but I think eventually we’ll get it. We’re going to get it and
we’ll get it right, but we had a pretty good breakthrough a couple weeks ago
in the final act, and hopefully we’ll get there…I think we’ll probably do
[another movie first] if we don’t get the [Y] script going soon,
but we’ll see. I have not found a movie that’s there yet. I just think if
we turn in Y after the holiday and it came in and got going quick
then it would be up for sure. I’m open to it, but I need to eventually make
a living.

In other words, don’t look for it in a theater near you anytime soon.

In September, Carus told
a little about his plans for adapting the storyline:

Initially [the movie will] open very similar to what you know in the opening book basically,
with Yorick and Beth. And ultimately when it all goes down, we jump to 6 or
8 weeks later, and sort of take that world there. In the montage of when it’s
all happening, we do see what happens in China, we do have little vignettes
of things that are happening all over the world. And then from that point
on, in the first movie, it then stays in Yorick’s journey to get to —
with 355 as they try get across — and find the doctor and losing Ampersand…
It’s global in that you see what happens, but it doesn’t go out and further.

I finally got around to reading several issues of Y: The Last Man over the holidays,
and I can see why Caruso’s having trouble. It’s a great series, but it will be very tricky to condense the storyline into a movie without losing its complexity, and without making many of the characters one-dimensional.

I’m especially concerned about how the graphic novel’s "band of Amazons" are going to be portrayed on the big screen, since they are already
pretty close to being caricatures of man-hating feminists in the comic. This could easily turn into a movie about a man, his monkey, and his sexy sidekick on the run from killer feminists.

But Brian K. Vaughan (who co-created the comic series with Pia Guerra) is helping with the script, and he usually includes good female characters in his stories, as well as gay
and lesbian characters and storylines. So I’ll remain cautiously optimistic — for now.

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