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How John Ridley Got Involved With Blumhouse's Superhero Movie

John Ridley's The American Way

Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) recently announced plans to bring his civically-minded superhero graphic novel The American Way to the big screen. And in a move that sounds like an exciting fit for both entities, Ridley revealed that his unique superhero property would be produced by Jason Blum of Blumhouse, the shingle best known for horror franchises like Insidious, Get Out and M. Night Shyamalan's Split. Ridley recently spoke with CinemaBlend about the fateful reunion on the American Way title, which put the storyteller back in business with DC Comics and paved the way for this eventual collaboration with Blumhouse. Ridley told us:

I'll be honest, it's that it had been 10 years since we did The American Way. I loved the characters. I wanted to do them again. I actually called DC and said, 'You know, it's been ten years, is there any way...' It's creator-owned, but just as a professional courtesy, I just called and said, 'Look, it's been ten years. I'm sure you don't want to do it. I'm just going to do it somewhere else.' And they're like, 'Wait a minute, you want to do it? Why don't you want to do it here?' There was this flurry of phone calls, and they were like, 'No, come and sit down.' So it was kind of like having a significant other where you never expressed how you feel. They were so excited, and they just assumed, 'Why would you want to do graphic novels? You're doing film, and you're doing television.' And I was like, 'Why would I not want to go graphic novels? This is what I grew up on. This is why I do film and television, because of the storytelling.' So it really was just two entities that assumed we didn't have any interest in each other. And when we did, I mean The American Way was like that. Because I did have ten years to think about it, and [illustrator] Georges [Jeanty] was available, and he came on board. It was an amazing experience.

Somethings are just meant to be. John Ridley's answer to CinemaBlend reminds us of the fact that too many dreams are extinguished simply because the person dreaming the dream didn't have the courage to vocalize their wish, because more often than not, they are easier to make happen than you would assume. Ridley realized he wanted to delve back into the land of The American Way. He phoned DC Comics out of a courtesy, and learned that they, too, were very interested in more stories from this world. Only, they wrongfully assumed that he'd be too busy. He wasn't, and the result was 2017's six-issue miniseries... a follow up to Ridley's own 2007 story.

The American Way follows superheroes in the 1960s -- the Civil Defense Corps -- who were dedicated to addressing racial and civil injustices at a time of national crisis. The team had a diverse makeup, meant to make pockets of Americans feel safer and protected. But their battles against "villains" were largely staged by a larger organization, the FDAA, or Federal Disaster Assistance Administration. The roster included heroes like Amber Waves, Freya, Pharos, Old Glory and New American. The original run was a tight story that addressed superhero action with American history in a seamless meld.

The movie adaptation, according to Deadline, will be set in 1972 and will pick up the story from the original The American Way graphic novel 10 years after the fact. There's no details yet on a timeline, but casting for this original project could be very exciting, as diversity is built into the makeup of the team, and the franchise. Having Jason Blum on board also gives The American Way a foothold into a winning business model. We'll continue to track the progress of this adaptation as it rolls along.

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Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.