Swamp Thing showrunner previews the new adaptation's body horror — and romance
Hot on the heels of Doom Patrol season 1, the DC Universe streaming service is gearing up for its next live-action comic book adaptation. This time, it’s Swamp Thing’s turn in the spotlight. Based on the character originally created by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson in the early ’70s, Swamp Thing features a scientist named Alec Holland (Andy Bean) who falls into a supernatural bog and emerges as the titular plantlike superhero (Derek Mears).
Unlike Doom Patrol, which had to juggle a whole cast of oddballs and misfits, Swamp Thing has only one hero to focus on — and he looks magnificent. Swamp Thing has been adapted several times before, most famously in a 1982 film directed by Wes Craven and an early-’90s TV show. But those previous adaptations didn’t have James Wan as a producer, and his influence shows in the character’s suit.
“Justin Raleigh, who does a lot of the practical effects for J.W.’s movies, is the one who built that costume with James’ input and our input,” Mark Verheiden, who serves as co-showrunner with Gary Dauberman, tells EW. “Early on, we decided we weren’t going to do a CGI Swamp Thing. We wanted a guy in that costume, to see a human being underneath, animating that suit. A big part of what we were able to accomplish was creating a suit that Derek Mears was able to perform through, so you could feel the humanity of this character as well as the horrific aspects of Swamp Thing.”
Verheiden continues, “You feel the love he feels, and since such a big part of this story is the romance that burgeons between Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane, their romance/respect/interest in one another, it’s important that we have that connective feel in the suit. I’m not sure that suit would have been able to be made back when they were making earlier films. It’s so high-tech and wonderfully designed. Derek calls it the Cadillac of suits; he loved it.”
What’s that, you say? Romance? Indeed: Although Swamp Thing was originally conceived by Wein and Wrightson, when legendary comic writer Alan Moore took over the comic in the ’80s, he introduced a powerful romance between the monstrous hero and the human woman Abby Arcane.
Abby (Crystal Reed) is central to the new Swamp Thing show. Though she’s now a Center for Disease Control specialist without her distinctive white-and-black hair from the comics, Abby is still fascinated by both Alec Holland and the Swamp Thing he becomes.
“I like to say that Abby ‘falls in like’ with Alec, but she finds a deeper connection with Swamp Thing as she goes forward. It’s also Alec Holland, but it’s an Alec Holland that’s developed this spiritual connection with this thing neither of them knew existed before, which is the Green, this world of plants,” Verheiden explains. “The romance that blossoms between them is also one of mutual respect and intrigue and worlds opening up. Abby is an experienced scientific mind, a CDC professional who likes to look for the scientific answers for things, as was Alec Holland, and one thing that draws them together is that Swamp Thing’s connected to this entire new world which has horrific aspects, but also has incredibly beautiful aspects. As the season goes on, that leads to a respect and affection for one another that maybe goes beyond where Abby was with Alec Holland. But it takes time, because he’s quite a different fellow.”
Swamp Thing premieres Friday, May 31, on DC Universe.