As one of the titles responsible for getting me back into comics, Y: The Last Man has a very special place in my heart. I've read every issue twice and make a habit out of lending the books out. It made me an instant Brian K Vaughan fan and as a result, I've gone on to read almost everything he's ever written. When I heard DJ Caruso was tapped to direct it...you know, he's not my first choice, but I enjoyed Disturbia just fine and even though Eagle Eye was completely implausible, I had fun. For me though, Y: The Last Man needs to be more than just fine or fun. It needs to be amazing. AMAZING. Thus my skepticism is growing larger and larger the more I hear about what Caruso is planning. So here, I will state what I think are the top five ways to avoid royally screwing up one of my favorite comics of all time.
5. Be fully prepared for the entire trilogy
Don't go into production on the first film without knowing what's gonna happen in the next two. Know which comics will be covered, which storylines will be omitted and what the overall theme and purpose will be of each film. In an interview with Sci-Fi in September, Caruso offered this tidbit
"If we get through this first one and then start thinking about the second ... I haven't given it much thought. It's just been actually very difficult to get the first one into a screenplay, because there's so much great stuff to choose from."
Um...okay, I hope when you say "get through this first one" what you mean is "get through the business of deciding we're definitely making this first one" because if you go any further than that without having any idea where you're headed, we're gonna have a problem. The material is too rich, too specific in its details to simply decide, eh, we'll get there when we get there. Caruso has said the focus of the first film will be on the relationship between 355 and Yorick but...that doesn't really become the focus of the comics until the latter third of the series. The first third is more about Yorick, first deciding to search for Beth, then along the way, discovering what his place will be in this new world through his encounters with various women, not just 355. In fact, the final issues are even more powerful because Yorick's bond with 355 kind of sneaks up on us. We realize, along with Yorick, just how important she is and has been all along, at the very effing end. If the first film blatantly focuses on their growing bond, as opposed to it being something organic happening in the back ground, the impact of the final act may very well be lost. If the audience WANTS Yorick & 355 together after the first movie, instead of wanting Yorick to find Beth 1 or see Beth 2 again, then DJ, you fucked it up.
4. Stick to BKV's Story
There is more than enough material to work with in those 60 issues. There is no reason to start adding "ticking clocks".
"One big change is that we put in a 'ticking clock' with Yorick and Ampersand, and I separated them, and Yorick starts to get a little sick when Ampersand's not with him. I felt like we needed some kind of ticking clock so it wasn't just a boy and his monkey."
This isn't Speed or Crank. The comic didn't need a "ticking clock" and the movie won't either. The source material is good enough without adding gimicks, I promise. Let's remember please that Y: The Last Man wasn't meant to be an action film. Sure, there is action in it, and it's fine to amp it up slightly (See Zach Snyder & Watchmen) but to add an uneccesary element that would change the entire dynamic of what this material is? No please. And don't get me started on this "just a boy and his monkey" business. Yorick's relationship with Ampersand might be more important THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN THE DAMN BOOK. I sobbed when Ampersand died, and when this scene comes in the third movie, every person in the audience should be sobbing too. Keeping them separated and using Ampersand as strictly a plot device and nothing more is not the way to go.
And keep the women, as many as possible, that's the point. He is surrounded by nothing but women. Women, women women. Keep Beth 1 (I heard rumblings that they were cutting her out which would be a HUGE MISTAKE - their reunion in Paris is beautiful and oh yeah, FINDING HER IS HIS EFFING RAISON D'ETRE) keep the first girl he cheats on her with, keep 711, keep the amazons. Sure, it's a lot, but make it work. You have 3 movies to do 60 issues, it won't be that difficult.
Caruso responds with this
"It is tricky to suggest changing things. I'm sure the fanboys will stone me and my kids for daring to change a thing. But Brian K. Vaughan [the writer of the comics] loves the ideas we've come up with. He even said, 'You have to think outside the box because the reason this story hasn't been made into a movie so far is that we haven't thought outside the box.'"
Which leads me to this - if anything were to be added, let it come from BKV. He wrote the damn thing and has experience with both the page & the screen. And I trust HIM to keep the themes of the comic alive. I promise I won't stone you, DJ, as long as you promise to keep any additions relevant and any subtractions minor.
3. Don't aim for a PG-13 rating
Have you READ the first issue? Granted Y is no Preacher, but that doesn't mean it should dumbed down or the violence/language eased up on. The opening of the film needs to do for the audience what that first issue did. Blood, guts, headless bodies and so on. It needs to be horrifying. Let it be dark when its dark and light when its light. Don't go into production with the mindset that you have to make it PG-13. Be true to the material and let the rating come out of that. This shouldn't be a PG-13 popcorn crap fest fast paced action movie meant for teenage boys. It's bigger than that.
2. Use a real monkey
I know Caruso has said he will use a real monkey, but I just have to stress, do NOT go back on this. No CGI, for the love of god. Use 18 monkeys for all I care, just make sure they are real.
1. Follow the Watchmen example when it comes to casting
This is EXTREMELY important. This film needs superb actors who are right for the roles. No stunt casting, no movie stars, no singers. Look at what Zach Snyder did. The casting in Watchmen is literally perfect. The actors look like the drawings to a tee and have real talent to bring to the table. I know Shia LeBeouf is a movie star who has made you lots of money, but he is not right for this role, DJ and you need to face that. And Alicia Keys as 355?! Stop it.
Have auditions, watch small films & television shows, investigate up and coming actors, put THOUGHT into this instead of simply running to your go-to-cash cow. I even commend JJ Abrams and his casting of the new Star Trek film. They are all relatively new, solid & look the part. So it IS possible, believe it or not.
Some suggestions? Zachary Levi from Chuck. I've heard it argued that Yorick would need to be slightly younger and shorter than Mr. Levi, but I think his his talent, charm & look make him a great candidate and I've been lobbying for him all over the internet. I certainly can't think of a single reason not to AT LEAST audition him.
I've also heard a lot of people tossing around Topher Grace's name. He doesn't do it for me, but again, maybe his screen test would be amazing. The point is, don't be lazy. There is probably an unknown actor out there born to play this role - how about you find him.
As for 355, I've heard both Zoe Saldana & Naomie Harris suggested, both of whom I think are great choices.
If any of my readers have suggestions or thoughts on the casting, please let me know!
Now I've witnessed in both others & myself the fanatacism of fandom. Was I upset that the third Harry Potter movie neglected to mention who Wormtail, Moony, Padfoot & Prongs were? Yes. Did I let it get in the way of enjoying that film? Absolutely not. Because normally I am very open minded and willing to accept that material often changes and elements are omitted as said material travels from medium to medium, but when it's come to Y: The Last Man...I'm gonna be a hard sell. Please don't screw this up, DJ Caruso. Please?
And now I leave you with some fanart by livejournal user franken_stein which I quite enjoy.