'Walking Dead': Does Comics Villain Negan Appear in the Season 5 Trailer?

The Walking Dead Baseball Bat Still - H 2014
Courtesy of AMC

The Walking Dead Baseball Bat Still - H 2014

[Warning: Spoilers ahead from The Walking Dead comic book series.]

Is AMC's The Walking Dead planning to bring in current comics villain Negan?

In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment from the newly released season-five trailer, Glenn (Steven Yeun) seems to be in imminent danger from an unknown character seemingly armed with a baseball bat about to take a swing at his head (see photo above).

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That scene (at the 2:20 mark in the trailer below) is reminiscent of an iconic — and heartbreaking — moment from Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead comic series on which the AMC ratings hit is based. The landmark 100th issue of the comic introduces Negan, the leader of a group known as The Saviors, who uses fear and violence to control other colonies including the Alexandria Safe-Zone — a community near Washington, D.C., where Rick and company lived for three years. After a bloody battle for the community with the Saviors, Negan captures Rick, Carl, Glenn, Maggie, Sophia, Michonne and Heath and takes control of Alexandria — at a price: one of their lives.

It's then that the group is introduced to Lucille, a wooden baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire that Negan carries with him and ultimately uses to shockingly beat Glenn to death as payback for the attack that killed several of his men. Check out some panels from Negan's run-in with Glenn in the comics, below.

While producers have repeatedly said that they wouldn't get to the character in season four, it's unclear if that same thought applies for the upcoming fifth season of AMC's zombie drama.

"I think you have to go back and see if there was barbed wire around the bat," showrunner Scott M. Gimple coyly told The Hollywood Reporter at Comic-Con when asked if Negan was on tap for season five. Added spoiler-phobe Kirkman: "We can see anything this season. Anything is possible — and good eye."

While both were mum on Negan, both writer/exec producers stressed that the new season-five trailer has a lot of "misdirection" and that the trailer covers events that occur in multiple episodes this season, though Gimple noted the season premiere is packed with so much action that it will "melt your brain."

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Season five, they said at Comic-Con, will stick "pretty close" to the comics. Gimple also explained that as part of his "remix" approach to the source material, season five would jump back and forth within the comic's timeline. The season-four finale, for example, contained a version of an iconic line from the 63rd issue of the series ("They're screwing with the wrong people"), while Negan's arc started in issue 100.

"There is at least one big moment this season that takes something from the comic that we blew past a year and a half ago," Gimple told THR. "There are some pieces that are from a long time ago that we never got to that integrate themselves in a story that's very different. There is some stuff that's completely and utterly different from the comic — though inspired [by it] — and it circles back to the comic."

Kirkman added that he really enjoys making major changes to the comics, which he said keeps him engaged in the writers room, with the upcoming season hitting the ground running with a remixed moment.

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"Season five possibly has more comic book moments than any season has thus far. There's still a lot of ground to cover. There's a lot there that we'll be getting to very quickly and getting to it in interesting, new and different ways where you won't see it coming," he said, noting that he "loves" writing Negan.

"I love the different places we've been able to go with Negan and his [F-bomb-laden] vocabulary. … It's been a lot of fun and I'm as excited about bringing that character into the show as the fans are. … But we don't want to rush it and we have to do it the right way," he said of adding Negan to the AMC series. "If we introduced Negan 20 issues earlier in the comic, it wouldn't have been as cool. We're going to make sure we take our time and do it the right way."

Check out the season five trailer below. The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Oct. 12, at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit