August 30, 2013 1:19pm PT by Graeme McMillan
Through the Looking Glass with Unmade Movie Pitch 'Shatterland'
A failed movie pitch from comic greats Grant Morrison and Brendan McCarthy has appeared online, offering a tantalizingly brief glimpse into an iconoclastic fantasy project that is as wonderful as it is likely entirely unfilmable.
According to Bleeding Cool's Brendon Connelly, who shared images from the Shatterland pitch, the duo ended up collaborating on the project after a chance meeting in 2003. McCarthy -- the comic artist for Judge Dredd, Skin and Strange Days as well as storyboard artist for Reboot and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -- had originated the idea, but was having trouble finishing the plot, and Morrison -- a writer responsible for such critically acclaimed titles as All-Star Superman, We3 and The Invisibles amongst many others -- ended up adding enough new elements that the two agreed it was a co-owned work.
Shatterland, as pitched, dealt with the kidnapping of a small child into the world behind the mirror, with the reflections of John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy teaming up to try and save the child. It's a wonderfully weird high concept, but also one that sounds almost impossible to bring to life without resorting to celebrity doppelgangers or impersonators for the main roles (Connelly reports that Morrison and McCarthy suggested using "CG techniques in order to 'skin wrap' the actual faces" of each dead celebrity onto the actors performing the roles).
Reportedly, it was the use of such celebrities' likenesses that ultimately killed the project, with producers suggesting that it would be a "legal nightmare" in order to get permission from the various estates necessary to bring the pitch to life in its original form. The solution, obviously, is aim lower and rewrite the story so that it's the reflections of actual, living actors who can appear in the movie as themselves that save the day -- Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and Matt Damon, say. Who wouldn't want to see that on the big screen?