Well, this is not how I wanted to start my Friday. It appears that the long-rumored big screen adaptation of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s amazing comic book series Y: The Last Man is offically dead.
Director Dan Trachtenberg confirmed the terrible news on Twitter, and then elaborated on what his plans were for the story over at /Film. While the filmmaker didn’t reveal what officially killed the project (he would only say it wasn’t the usual suspects of money, script issues, or casting that did the film in), he did talk at length about his vision for bringing Yorick and Ampersand’s adventure to the big screen. Reading about it is only going to make you sadder it didn’t happen.
The comic, which is often hailed as one of the greatest series of its time, tells the globe-spanning tale of Yorick Brown and his monkey Ampersand. Somehow, the duo survives a catastrophic plague that kills all of the world’s men besides them – and is forced to team up with a female government agent named 355 to figure out what caused the outbreak and why they survived.
With Trachtenberg’s version dead, the rights revert back to Vaughn and Guerra, who could theoretically begin shopping it anew. Trachtenberg doesn’t think that’s going to happen, though. "I’m not sure Brian will ever want to do anything more with it, and I’m not sure that he needs to."
Should that happen, fans will always have the comic, which is a fascinating synthesis of seemingly disparate elements. Action set-pieces exist comfortably alongside quieter character moments that show the cast isn’t simply comprised of archetypes. At its heart, Y: The Last Man is really about gender relations – but Vaughan and Guerra handle the material in such a subtle way that the bigger ideas tend to sneak up on you. This nuance was one of the reasons many fans were nervous about a film adaptation. Subtlety is usually lost in bringing these sorts of things to the screen.
Trachtenberg was well aware of the challenges presented in turning the 60 issue series into a feature, and had planned accordingly. In his vision, the film would cover the first two trade paperbacks (issues 1-10), then the story would be progressed in subsequent sequels. He also mentions movies that were referenced frequently during the production, which only helps to give us an idea of what might have been.
"Raiders of the Lost Ark was referenced a lot. Midnight Run and Big Trouble in Little China were referenced a lot. Willow and Ladyhawke I may have referenced a little too often…"
While it’s disappointing that the film version is not happening, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the line for Yorick and Ampersand on the screen. As mentioned earlier, Vaughan and Guerra could find a new studio to take over production. The small screen remains an option (and honestly, probably the best option for the kind of serialized story Y: The Last Man is looking to tell) as well. If something like AMC’s adaptation of Preacher takes off, it’s no stretch to imagine another network taking a keen interest in Y. A cable network like HBO feels like the best fit. Perhaps there will be a silver lining in this dark cloud, after all.