EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has bet big on the Extreme Universe of graphic novel characters hatched by Rob Liefeld, whose disruptive Deadpool creation was the blockbuster movie surprise of 2016. Netflix has made a seven-figure rights deal, and Akiva Goldsman will set up and oversee a high-end writers’ room — similar to ones he has run for the Ology series, and the Transformers spinoffs — to generate a series of feature films with connective tissue, anchored by Liefeld’s comic book creations. Goldsman, Liefeld and Brooklyn Weaver will be the producers. Weed Road’s Greg Lessans will be exec producer.
The marriage between Extreme Universe and Goldsman came out of an earlier deal for Liefeld’s Avengelyne, which he is developing to direct at Paramount. The new deal gives Netflix a shot at a branded series of films. Extreme Universe covers six comic books, encompassing more than 50 characters that include Brigade, Bloodstrike, Cybrid, Re-Gex, Bloodwulf and Kaboom. An earlier deal had been struck involving producer Graham King and Fundamental Films, but that did not work out and Netflix stepped up.
The Extreme Universe characters are written very much in the subversive, edgy style that defined Deadpool. The Fox film became the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever, with a sequel opening May 18.
Essentially, Netflix has bet on a beachhead of fresh IP consisting of new characters for the big screen, at a time when superhero IP is in short supply.
“Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Universe features gritty stories and distinctive characters,” said Netflix feature film chief Scott Stuber. “Akiva’s creative voice has been behind some of the largest movie franchises, making him uniquely capable of helping bring these superheroes from the Extreme Universe to life for Netflix.”
Netflix is eager to create more new IP after it ordered a sequel from its first big sci-fi tentpole, the David Ayer-directed Will Smith-Joel Edgerton-starrer Bright.
Said Goldsman: “Rob is a unique and innovative talent who knows how to combine hard-edged comic book action with real emotionality. Netflix has the ambition, reach, and dedication to bring his universe to life.”
Aside from Deadpool, Liefeld’s comics pedigree started when, at 18, he was hired fresh out of high school by both Marvel and DC Comics. His creations include the X-Force and Cable comic series, and he has written for such Marvel Comics stalwarts as X-Men, Captain America, Spider-Man and The Avengers before he split off to hatch his own publishing imprint Extreme Studios, where he launched the characters that are the cornerstone of this deal. The following effusive statement hints to how he has sparked to this deal.
Said Liefeld: “Netflix has become a part of every day existence for me and my children. Their programming is the most dynamic and diverse I have seen. I am beyond thrilled and inspired to be bringing my Extreme catalogue to life with the creative wizards at Netflix. What Akiva Goldsman has achieved with his craft and storytelling across all mediums in our industray is of absolute benefit for my Extreme characters. He is an absolute comic book fanatic and working with him on adapting Extreme Universe has been electric. His stellar work on Star Trek Discovery has wowed the fandom and trust me when I say that the Teen Titans show he is producing is going to blow fans away. I cannot wait to show the world what we have in store.”
Liefeld is represented by WME, Energy Entertainment and Attorney Greg Gellman.