Jason Mantzoukas is best known for his onscreen appearances in TV shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The League and movies such as the just-released The House. But Mantzoukas is also a writer, whose credits include the Adult Swim show Childrens Hospital and 2014’s Ride Along. His current behind-the-scenes gig, however, could be a gamechanger both for Mantzoukas and for a Hollywood which has yet to show much interest in straying beyond the DC and Marvel universes when it comes to superhero films.
In January of last year, it was reported that Mantzouks had been recruited to write an adaptation of writer-artist Paul Pope’s acclaimed graphic novel Battling Boy at Paramount, with production being overseen by Brad Pitt’s Plan B company. There has been little news about the project since, but Mantzoukas confirms to EW that he is still hard at work adapting Pope’s saga, which is set in a monster-filled city named Arcopolis.
“It’s this amazing story,” he says. “It’s hard to explain, but Paul Pope works within classic superhero archetypes to tell serious stories. The book has characters that you could see as analogs to a Batman-, or a Superman-, or a Thor-type character. One of them is a human, kind of a detective-based character and one of them is a kind of omnipotent, God-like character from another planet. Except, in this instance, they’re both kids. The Batman-type character is a 17-year-old girl and the Superman-type character is a 12-year-old boy. They exist in a kind of fairytale-ish world where monsters are abducting children at night and they are doing battle with these monsters. But it’s a coming of age story for these two kids. And so a lot of it shares a lot of what made things like the high school storylines of Spider-Man interesting, or what makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer interesting. They’re human stories of kids coming of age but in extraordinary circumstances. It’s awesome. It’s really exciting.”
How confident is Mantzoukas that his adaptation will make it to the big screen?
“I don’t know,” he says. “Listen, I hope we get to see it, because, as much a fan as I am of — and I’m an enormous fan — of all of what Marvel is doing, and all of the big superhero movies we’re seeing, I would love to see a movie out there that is an original story, that is a superhero story that is an original piece of IP, not just an adaptation of a classic Marvel or DC character, or a team of characters or whatever. I think what Paul has created is a truly unique, and interesting, and beautiful world, and I hope people get to see it, frankly. He’s so impressive, it’s wild.”