By Sara Vilkomerson
Updated February 11, 2014 at 03:23 PM EST
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Can’t wait forNoahstarring Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, and Anthony Hopkins—to arrive in theaters on March 28th? Here’s an exclusive first look at the graphic novel published by Image Comics —available March 18 — from director Darren Aronofsky, co-writer and producer Ari Handel, and artist Niko Henrichon based on the first draft of the screenplay for the film. “It’s a significantly different experience,” Aronofsky tells EW.

If you can’t tell by looking at the cover, Noah—the movie and the graphic novel—is not going to resemble the biblical tale you learned in Sunday school. Aronofsky and Handel knew that they wanted to approach the material differently. “How do you break from the clichés we’ve all seen of Noah’s Ark as a kid’s story? How do you break from that both from a visual perspective and from a storytelling, thematic perspective,” says Handel, of he and Aronofsky’s first conversations as to how to approach the material. “Noah is is really not a jolly character,” says Aronofsky.

He and Handel, longtime friends who have worked together on Aronofsky’s films The Fountain, The Wrestler, and Black Swan, have been talking about Noah for over a decade. They wrote a script and the project started to pick up steam around 2006 but then stalled during a studio regime change, leaving everything in limbo. “Everyone liked it,” says Aronofsky. “But you know how that works. No one wants to touch their predecessor’s projects. So it sat around. And I didn’t want all our work to go to waste.”

Aronofsky had done a graphic novel with his 2006 film The Fountain (which you can see/buy here) and so he and Handel decided to go the same route. “We went to France where they were like, ‘hey you want to make a graphic novel? Great, we love graphic novels,'” says Handel. There they teamed up with Niko Hernricho (Pride of Bagdad) and broke the story into four volumes. The first two volumes have been out in Europe but March 18th will mark its American debut—and the third and fourth volume hasn’t been published yet. Says Aronofsky, “It turned out really beautifully.”

If you missed it during the Super Bowl, here’s the latest trailer for Noah below.