Despite having the rights to the property for a decade and a director in place for over a year, New Line has truly struggled with getting an adaptation of the cult Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra comic book Y: The Last Man off the ground. Back in January, we learned that the studio was at risk of losing the rights to the creators if cameras didn’t start rolling quickly… and now the gauntlet has finally fallen. The Y: The Last Man film is officially dead in the water.
Director Dan Trachtenberg (Portal: No Escape) broke the sad news himself when asked directly by a fan about the project’s progress. His statement was very brief and matter-of-fact, but absolutely clear:
— Dan Trachtenberg (@DannyTRS) September 25, 2014
While incredibly disappointing, it’s not at all surprising that New Line dropped the ball on this one. As I said, the studio had the rights to the property for a decade, and had countless opportunities to put a film into motion. Trachtenberg may have been brief on Twitter, but talked in length with /Film about his thoughts on New Line losing the rights, and about what his vision of the adaptation would have been:
I had such a great time working on that project and am truly sad the things we were cooking up can no longer happen.
Like everyone else who’s a fan of the series I had always wished it either remain in its comic book form. Or, if it must be made, a TV series would be the only thing that would suffice.
However, the “big screen” and the “small screen” has changed drastically since Y came out and I think so much of the great TV in our current “golden age” has been directly or indirectly inspired by Y the Last Man. I started getting excited about bringing to the BIG screen what we’ve been getting in TV so readily now— great characters, RELATIONSHIPS, world building and genre re-combination.
Truly- I was excited to make an ADVENTURE movie, with swashbuckle, that was fun and funny but had something to say. Which is something that is distinctly BKV. Having real, true, honest ,people stuff amidst the big, fun, action stuff. We were in many ways quite faithful to the comic, though some characters were combined and some events re-arranged and some brief moments of action we dug into to create bigger action/adventure sequences.
As far as how he planned to condense sixty issues worth of story into a two-hour film, Trachtenberg cites Star Wars as inspiration for standalone storytelling that leaves the door open for sequels and story expansion:
The script was essentially the first two trades. Taking inspiration from the original Star Wars (Episode 4)- we wanted to tell a complete story…but not the whole story. Hoping that, in success, we could get tell the rest of our serialized adventure.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was referenced a lot. Midnight Run and Big Trouble in Little China were referenced a lot. Willow and Ladyhawke I may have referenced a little too often…
In the end, working with all the producers and the writers was a great experience. And getting to meet Brian, who has been such an inspiration to me over the years was incredible. He’s as great a person as he is a writer. And now Y the Last Man is back where it should be, with its creator.
As sad as it is to see the film fall to pieces, perhaps this can be seen as a positive. Comic book movies may be all the rage in Hollywood, but television adaptations of comics and graphic novels are on the rise as well. The Walking Dead has shown that a graphic novel can be adapted well and capture a wide audience. With Y: The Last Man too big for the silver screen, perhaps there’s hope that it finds a home on the small screen instead?
Tell us, are you disappointed to hear that Y: The Last Man isn’t going to get a film adaptation anytime soon? Sound off in the comments section below.