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More than a year after tapping Michael Green as showrunner and nearly three after landing at FX, the basic cable network is moving full steam ahead with its adaptation of Brian K. Vaughan’s beloved comic book series Y: The Last Man.
FX on Thursday announced that it has handed out a formal pilot order and enlisted Aida Mashaka Croal (Jessica Jones, Turn) to serve as co-showrunner alongside Green, with Melina Matsoukas (Insecure, Master of None, Beyonce: Formation) on board to direct the highly anticipated drama.
Y: The Last Man ranks as one of the most critically acclaimed comic book series of all time. The DC Comics/Vertigo title was first launched in 2002 and revolves around Yorick Brown — the last surviving human with a Y chromosome — and his Capuchin monkey, Ampersand. The series follows escape artist Yorick after a mysterious plague as he sets out to find what might have wiped out the male chromosome. The series, written and created by Vaughan and artist Pia Guerra, ran for 60 issues and has been collected in multiple graphic novels. Here’s FX’s formal description of the potential series: “All of the men are dead. But one. Y traverses a world of women — exploring gender, race, class and survival.”
Green and Croal will co-showrun and exec produce alongside Matsoukas, Color Force’s Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson (FX’s American Crime Story and Pose), and Vaughan. The team has been working for months on the script, with FX pulling the trigger on the pilot order.
It’s been a long and twisty path to the screen for Y: The Last Man. FX put the adaptation in development in late 2015 after Vaughan reacquired the rights to his franchise following a lengthy waiting period after New Line scrapped plans to convert the comic book to a feature film. New Line — a corporate sibling to publisher Vertigo — acquired the film rights to the series in 2007 and set David Goyer, Carl Ellsworth and director D.J. Caruso to adapt. The latter wound up walking away from the project after the studio didn’t want to produce the saga as a three-film franchise but rather a two-hour stand-alone feature.
In March 2012, Jericho‘s Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia were in final negotiations to take on the property with J.C. Spink, Chris Bender and Goyer producing, and Mason Novick and Jake Weiner set as executive producers. The latter fell apart in September 2014 when Vaughan announced that the rights were in the process of reverting back to him and the movie was dead. “We wanted to tell a complete story … but not the whole story,” Vaughan said at the time, noting that he had hoped that “in success, we could get tell the rest of our serialized adventure.”
Vaughan told The Hollywood Reporter in November that he “wanted to find someone who loved the source material but didn’t feel so indebted to it that they would be afraid to change it,” with Green fitting that bill. “When [Green] first pitched his take on it to Nina Jacobson and me a long time ago, he came in saying he wanted to do something about toxic masculinity. It felt very relevant, and unfortunately, I think it’s only become more relevant with each passing day. His take on it was really brave and very different, but exciting as well. I really admire how audacious he’s been with his translation.”
Green’s vision for Y: The Last Man, he told THR in July, changed after Trump was elected president. “It would have been a very different show, and very different development process, had the election not been as horrifying as it was,” Green said. “I had to put the script down for a couple months and really reassess it tonally, because it became a different creature, it became violent protest. It couldn’t not be political, and I had to embrace it, and I had to find my way in, and I had to find a way to channel my own dismay, disappointment and rage into it, while still keeping it what it is. For a minute there, I almost walked away.”
Y: The Last Man — now especially relevant in the era of salary-parity debates and the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements — counts fans in Joss Whedon; French film director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans and Now You See Me); and Chuck alum Zachary Levi, who expressed interest in taking on the role of Yorick — going so far as to have his character on the former NBC comedy read the graphic novel in an episode. Quizzed by THR in September 2014 ahead of the fall comic book invasion on broadcast, Y: The Last Man was singled out as a property that should be the next to come to the small screen.
FX’s Y marks Vaughan’s latest TV foray after Hulu’s take on his beloved Marvel comic Runaways and CBS’ Under the Dome (which he developed for Showtime and ultimately departed following its freshman season on CBS) and Lost. He’s currently writing Image Comics’ critical hit Saga.
Green most recently made headlines after he and co-showrunner Bryan Fuller parted ways with Starz and producers Fremantle Media on season two of American Gods, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s beloved book.
Croal is repped by UTA and Gang Tyre. Matsoukas is with CAA, MXN Entertainment and Gang Tyre. Vaughan is with Verve and Ziffren Brittenham.
At FX, Y joins a pilot roster that includes Alex Garland’s Silicon Valley drama Devs and comedy What We Do in the Shadows, based on the indie feature of the same name. A series order for Y would give FX another comic book drama in addition to Marvel’s X-Men-based Legion in an era where practically everyone has one (HBO, for example, is rebooting Watchmen with Damon Lindelof, etc.).
Leave your casting suggestions for Yorick in the comments section below.
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