Y: The Last Man was a critically praised comic series from acclaimed writer Brian K. Vaughn. It was a series set in a post-apocalyptic/dystopia sci-fi series set in a world where all mammals with a Y chromosome suddenly die, except for one young man, Yorrick Brown and his pet monkey who travel across the world. It was a series that won the Eisner Award in 2008 for Best Continuing Series. The series was known for post-apocalyptic images, the impact of an event on society, social commentary about politics and society and its dark comedy.
But an adaptation of Y: The Last Man has been languishing in development hell for years and the film rights for the series have reverted back to Brian K. Vaughn. Disturbia‘s D. J. Caruso and Portal: No Escape‘s Dan Trachtenberg have been linked to direct an adaptation.
Last week we at Monkeys Fighting Robots looked at how an adaptation of Y: The Last Man could be made, whether it should be on film or TV. This week we will look at ten directors who could and should adapt the comics to the screen.
Hailing from Spain Juan Antonio Bayona, better known as J. A. Bayona is one of the top directors to emerge from the Iberian Peninsula in recent times. His debut movie was the excellent Spanish horror movie The Orphanage, a chilling ghost story oozing with atmosphere as a mother searches for her lost son who disappears when visiting the haunted orphanage she growth up in. His follow up film was the disaster drama The Impossible, an incredible feat because of the amazing performances by Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts and for Bayona’s skill at recreating the scale of the 2004 Tsunami, showing both the destruction the wave caused and the crisis in Thailand afterwards.
Bayona is a rising star, his next film is an adaptation of the critically acclaimed children’s novel A Monster Calls, set to be released in the fall of 2016 and he has been attached to direct a sequel for World War Z. Imagine what he could do with Y: The Last Man.
Known for making Margin Call, All is Lost and A Most Violent Year J.C. Chandor is another emerging director. His rise has been miraculous in four years, making three critically acclaimed dramas; the lowest raised on Rotten Tomatoes, Margin Call still has a 88% rating.
Chandor has shown himself to be an ambitious writer/director in his short career; Margin Call is considered one of the best movies about the 2008 Financial Crisis, making it accessible to all audiences, not just people with economics degrees. All is Lost was a one man show for Robert Redford, surviving at sea and A Most Violent Year was a crime and family drama set to the backdrop of the most violent year in New York City’s history.
His experience with All is Lost and A Most Violent would put him in good stead for a Y: The Last Man adaptation, combining Yorrick, Agent 355 and Alison Mann’s travels across America and the World without being spotted and the showing the collapse of society through their eyes. Chandor does deserve a chance to work with a bigger canvass.
Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón is one of those directors who film fans want to direct any major project going. He is a filmmaker who has shown his ability tackling family movies to dark adult ones, comedy to dark and has handled many different genres. Cuarón has shown himself to be a technical master, making Gravity that had some of the most breathtaking CGI put to screen and with cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki they have produced some amazing long-takes and steady cam shots.
One of Cuarón’s best movies is his loose adaptation of Children of Men, a sci-fi dystopia set in a world where no babies have been born for 18 years and Britain becomes authoritarian state to keep order. A Y: The Last Man movie could easily follow in the footsteps of Children of Men, looking at a society where people face their extinction and could look at the event that forces the change in society. But it is a double edged sword because would Cuarón want to revisit similar material with a similar plot. Still, we can dream.
Since the success of Selma last year Ava DuVernay has become a director-to-watch and has the potential be one of the biggest female directors and African-American directors in Hollywood. She was linked to direct Black Panther for Marvel but left the project because of creative differences.
DuVernay’s work on Selma was a great realization of the work of Martin Luther King Jr and the Civil Rights Movement. With David Oyelowo, actor and director were able to bring out the personal struggles and dilemma that Dr. King and the showing the wider context of the Civil Right Movements, from the various political organizations and individuals involved and looking at American society as a whole in the 1960s, using Selma as a catalyst. This experience would make DuVernay an excellent fit for a Y: The Last Man movie, being able to show Yorrick’s personal dilemma, the social realignment of society and looking at social and political issues that is affecting women in America and around the world.
Israeli director Ari Folman is best known to international his animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, winning the Palme d’Or and Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globe Awards and César Awards, as well as being nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards. Folman is a unique director because of his use of animation to retell his experience as a soldier in the 1982 Lebanon War. His follow up was a unique sci-fi offering, a live-action animated hybrid The Congress set in a world where actors sell their appearance for virtual reality films, showing the effects of this on one actress, Robin Wright.
Folman is a talented man and he has shown there is a market for mature animated movies and his previous work has shown he could tackle the themes of Y: The Last Man. Also the main antagonist is an Israeli army officer, so Folman Israeli background can fresh her out.
Alex Garland is a talented writer, writing novels like The Beach and The Coma and he has become one of Britain’s best known screenwriters. He has gained a lot of praise for his directional debut Ex Machina, a taut sci-fi thriller with a small cast looking at the future of artificial intelligence, its potential impact on society and the philosophical issues regarding the breakthrough. He is a director to watch.
All of Garland’s work as a screenwriter has been in the sci-fi genre, including 28 Days Later and Sunshine and he has success adapting Dredd and Never Let Me Go. If he could recreate his work on post-apocalyptic setting of London in 28 Days Later and the dystopia societies of Dredd and Never Let Me Go it serve as a great template for what he could do for Y: The Last Man, showing devastation to major cities and the effects of the lost of men on society.
Drew Goddard is best as a writer, working on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias and Lost (a show that Bryan K. Vaughn also worked on). He also wrote Cloverfield and made a real name for himself with his directional debut The Cabin in the Woods, a movie praised for how it subverted cliches of the horror genre. He has been approached by Sony to direct a Sinister Six for Sony and has acted as the show runner for Daredevil on Netflix. Goddard’s work on sci-fi with a comedic edge would be a great match for a Y: The Last Man adaptation on movie or TV. Goddard is a director and writer whose stature is growing: his next movie is the eagerly awaited adaptation of The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott.
New Zealander writer/director Andrew Niccol is known mostly in sci-fi, making S1m0ne, In Time and most importantly Gattaca. Gattaca would serve as a fantastic example for any Y: The Last Man adaptation to follow. Gattaca is a movie set in eugenics-based society where people are split into two classes, the genetically pure and the impure underclass whose only lot in live to menial jobs. Gattaca was a fantastic movie for its realisation of a world based on genetic discrimination, a scary prospect for our future and style of using a retro-futurism iconography.
Many of Niccol’s movies have a social commentary; In Time being about the divide between rich and poor, with the main character being found out he was poor because the rich don’t need to run. Lord of War was about the weapons trade, particularly how it effects developing nations and Niccol’s most recent movie, Good Kill, looked the morality of drone warfare. Niccol could easily transfer this approach to a Y: The Last Man adaptation, a series that was filled with social commentary about gender issues and general issues effecting the United States.
Three-Fifths of Matthew Vaughn’s filmography have been adaptations of comic books (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and Kingsman: The Secret Service) and his other two movies are adaptations of novels. Vaughn has become a cult director who has made cult movies, satirizing Bond films and superhero movies while also paying homage to them.
Matthew Vaughn’s movies has become known for their bright colors and dark humor, juxtapose with brutal moments of violence and sincere moments of emotions and character development. This approach would be perfect for a Y: The Last Man adaptation. His comic book movies do actually look like a comic book come to life and he has been able to make difficult projects succeed, such as rebooting the X-Men series, adapting tough material like Mark Millar’s troublesome Kick-Ass and the fantasy film Stardust with its multiple plotlines.
Matthew Vaughn is a man who loves a challenge, he turned down the opportunity to direct X-Men: Days of Future Past, choosing to direct ‘Kingsman’ instead: great for us because we got two great action movies. We would love to see what Matthew Vaughn could do with other comic book adaptations.
Joss Whedon is a fanboys favorite, known for work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and of course The Avengers. Whedon is a huge comic book fan having worked on projects for Marvel and DC and helped write the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book sequel. He is also a self-confessed fan of Y: The Last Man and has Brian K. Vaughn wrote issues of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic.
A Y: The Last Man project, whether it is on film or television, would be a perfect property for Whedon. Whedon’s projects tend to have strong female characters, so a project set in a world of women would be fantastic for him and his trademark witty dialogue would be right at home with Vaughn’s style of humor and satire.
Whedon has developed a lot of cache in Hollywood since The Avengers‘ billion dollar haul but the filming of Avengers: Age of Ultron was a more troubled shoot because his obligations to tie in treads for future Marvel movies. Whedon would want to find a project that would give him more creative freedom.