Disney, the mouse-owned entertainment giant, are launching a streaming service soon, like their own version of Netflix.
Cool, right? Seems fun. But, the thing is, Disney own Marvel, and Netflix currently has loads of Marvel programmes. Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, The Defenders, that whole lot. Disney have basically said, in adorable high-pitched voices, you can’t have those any more. Netflix will keep what it’s made, but any more Marvel stuff will go straight to the as-yet-unnamed Disney one.
Netflix aren’t sad about that, though. They’re going, “Hey, we’ll get our own superhero universe,” and teaming up with Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld to bring his Extreme Universe to the small screen.
The Extreme Universe covers six different comic books, encompassing 50 or so characters, including Brigade, Bloodstrike, Cybrid, Lethal, Re-Gex, Bloodwulf, Battlestone, Kaboom and Nitro-Gen. He’ll be working with screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (Batman & Robin, The Da Vinci Code) to turn these into a series of interconnected films.
Now, the thing with Rob Liefeld and the Extreme Universe…
It’s a bit…
Controversial, let’s say.
Some people love his stuff, and others hate it. He’s sold millions and millions of comics by completely polarising the industry. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who goes, “Oh, Rob Liefeld is OK”. He provokes more ire than probably anyone else ever involved in comics.
Liefeld was at his financial and creative peak in the late ‘80s and early to mid ‘90s, when the world was kind of crazy. He started working in comics when really young, getting work published when he was still a teenager, and was working for both DC and Marvel by the time he was 22. He was really prolific and became a very well-known face, even appearing in a Levi’s advert directed by Spike Lee. One of his comics, 1991’s X-Force #1, remained the second-highest selling single issue in history until a few years ago.
He’s undeniably talented, tapping into the zeitgeist and creating characters that really struck a chord with people at the time. His stuff though… Look, here is a picture he drew of Captain America. It is awfully bad. Captain America is 85% mammary gland.
With a bunch of other (and, we’re gonna throw this out there, better) writers and artists he set up Image Studios, which to this day put out some of the most interesting, exciting, beautiful comics you’ll ever see. Liefeld’s weren’t that though. His stuff, under the subsidiary names of Extreme Studios and Awesome Studios, was full of over-the-top violence, ridiculous macho posturing and just sort of joylessly silly shit.
Critics of Liefeld point to things like his inability to draw feet, the preposterously distorted musculature he gave everyone, oversexualised female characters with barely-there costumes, inability to draw noses, tendency to draw enormous rectangular guns that made no sense and obsession with giving characters more belts and pouches than they could ever plausibly need.
The most ‘90s-tastic, bro-y, EXXXXTREEEEME stuff that happened in comics was either done by Liefeld or done by companies trying to emulate his success. Sure, some interesting characters came out of it all, but huge amounts of it were just plain daft. Guns as big as people, arms as big as cars, women with galaxy-sized breasts fighting through space in swimming costumes.
Everything that people who think comics are stupid think is stupid about comics, this guy did. Plenty of other people did it too, but he did it LOADS.
Even his friends concede that what he does is kind of odd. Liefeld’s Image Comics partner Robert Kirkman (writer of The Walking Dead), says:
“Every character Rob drew had seven knives and six guns and shoulder pads and pouches and belts and straps and ammunition. Everything he draws is interesting, whether it’s accurate or not. A lot of people look at the way Rob draws the human body and they say, ‘That’s wrong in my eyes’. I would say that these people have no joy in their souls. It’s not like Rob doesn’t know what a human body looks like, I think Rob looks at a human body and goes: ‘That’s boring. I can do better.’”
It could all end up being really good. Live action will reduce a lot of the preposterousness of Liefeld’s visual style, and Goldsman is a very talented writer. The hella-extreme style of the comics might end up working in Netflix form, and Liefeld might still possess the ability to tap into the zeitgeist, and update his characters in an interesting way. We’re going to keep an open mind.
Look at this picture though. That is full commitment to not drawing feet if you can get away with it.