Over the past couple seasons of The Walking Dead we’ve seen an interesting transformation take over Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan. When we think of a classic bad guy, they’re just plain bad and there’s not much redemption to be had. Negan is just built different, though, and for a lot of people it’s hard to imagine that the man who bashed Glen’s head in could ever be someone who has such respect for the children of his enemy, and even saves Judith. Negan is a complex character who even earned himself his own origin story comic, and an origin episode in season 10 of The Walking Dead, but how faithful will the series be to his origin comic?
Now that season 10 of The Walking Dead has bonus episodes, it seems like the perfect place to put Negan’s origin story, especially since Negan has really seen some character development in this season. Actually, season 10 will now end with Negan’s story and, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang reveals that Negan’s origin will be told a little differently on screen than in the comics. In Kang’s own words:
I'll say that it's not exactly the same as what people have read in the page, because to tell you the truth, we've told some of those bits and pieces of the story. We didn't show it, but he's talked about his relationship with Lucille to various people. We kind of took little bits and pieces over time. So when we looked at it, we were like, ‘To do this, we sort of need a very strong way into it. What does it mean for him? And really, like emotionally, what's the story that we can tell?’
While we do indeed know a fair amount of Negan’s story before the Alexandria group met The Saviors, an origin story will help viewers understand a little better just what may be going through Negan’s head as he strives to be a better human, even if his humanitarian betterment comes a little late for Glen and Abraham. We know about Negan’s love for his late wife Lucille, but seeing his origins on screen will speak more to the internal journey he has taken since losing her.
Fans of the comic will be happy to hear that they will be able to see some very close similarities in the series’ take on Negan’s origin story, as Angela Kang says in the same interview that some lines are taken word for word from the Here’s Negan comic series. She says that while there will be some differences, they feel the series is staying pretty true to Negan’s spin-off comics. Here it is in her own words:
I think that in some ways it's very true to the comic, in that it is true to the spirit of the love that he has for Lucille, but there's a lot in our adaptation that is original to the show, but in a way that I think supports the same sort of emotional journey that I think he takes on the page. So there's some lines that are almost straight out of the book, which people who are comic fans will recognize. And then there's other things where we've made some different choices, but that hopefully will still be really cool.
Walking Dead fans who have read the comics, specifically Here’s Negan, have a little bit of a leg up when watching the series, compared to those who have only seen the show. Even though the AMC series does veer off of the comics to make compelling TV for all, comic fans have backstories of the characters and have a better idea of what makes them who they are. For Negan, it’s a history of morally questionable actions and struggle for some kind of internal peace that impacts his life post-walker pandemic.
It sounds like even though the series is keeping things in line with the Here’s Negan comic series, there will be some things that comic fans will be able to appreciate in a new light. And, for those Walking Dead fans who have not read the comics, an origin story may just be the thing that let’s them forgive Negan for all his trespasses in the past. Or not, I know I’m still a little heated over Glen.