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James Mangold may be trading in his whip for a trip to swamp country.
Mangold, who has Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny hitting theaters in May, is in early talks to be one of the first writer-directors to join James Gunn and Peter Safran’s roster of filmmakers at DC Studios.
Mangold is in discussions with the Warner Bros. arm to take on the feature adaptation of Swamp Thing, the supernatural horror-based hero who is a focal point in the first chapter of DC Studios’ slate.
Gunn and Safran unveiled their slate Tuesday. Swamp Thing was the last of the 10 projects talked about and was tonally the darkest. The executives didn’t mention Mangold at the time, as sources say that talks are still in the early stages.
Still, Mangold on Tuesday night tweeted a simple (but moody and poetic) image of Swamp Thing, drawn by co-creator Bernie Wrightson. Gunn retweeted the post, suggesting that the talks were heading in a hopeful direction.
Mangold is said to be a massive fan of the character and the stories. According to sources, he approached Gunn and Safran with his ideas. Swamp Thing would be a few years away, however, and Mangold’s next project after Dial of Destiny will be a Bob Dylan biopic for Paramount.
Swamp Thing was created by writer Len Wein and horror artist Wrightson, first appearing in a stand-alone story in 1971’s House of Secrets No. 92. The character proved popular enough that he got his own book soon after, although it was short-lived.
The character achieved his peak in the 1980s during a seminal run written by Alan Moore and drawn by John Totleben and Stephen R. Bissette. The book was at the forefront of burgeoning and envelope-pushing comic titles that included Moore’s The Watchmen, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Art Spiegelman’s Maus and other works that brought new energy into comics.
It was during this run that Swamp Thing evolved from a simple horror comic into one with a deep elemental mythology featuring concepts such as the Parliament of Trees and tackling complex themes of life and death. The run also introduced another supernatural hero, John Constantine, and its more adult nature led to the creation of the mature readers’ comics imprint Vertigo.
Swamp Thing has had several comics runs since, with the character being folded back into the proper DC Universe, where he was a part of Justice League Dark, DC’s supergroup of supernatural characters.
The character first appeared on the big screen in 1982, in a feature directed by horror master Wes Craven, and most recently in a short-lived series showrun by Gary Dauberman and Mark Verheiden that streamed on the now-defunct DC Universe platform.
At Tuesday’s presentation, Gunn and Safran said the new movie “investigates the dark origins of Swamp Thing.” And while calling it a “horrific film,” the character would still be interacting with other DC characters, with the tonal clash a key allure of any mashup.
Mangold co-wrote Dial of Destiny, the first Indiana Jones movie to not be directed by Steven Spielberg, which will be released June 30. Before that, he directed Oscar-winning racing drama Ford v Ferrari and co-wrote and directed the critically acclaimed X-Men-centric movie Logan.
Mangold is repped by WME, Entertainment 360 and Sloane Offer.
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