John Wick director bringing Ed Brubaker's Kill or Be Killed to the screen

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2017

Chad Stahelski, co-director of the ultra-stylized crime thriller John Wick and sole director of its sequel, is bringing his adrenalized filmmaking to Ed Brubaker's acclaimed comic Kill or Be Killed.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stahelski has signed a deal to direct the film from a screenplay by Dan Casey, who has also adapted Brubaker's Incognito as a movie for Columbia Pictures. There's no studio attached to Kill or Be Killed yet.

The book, written by Brubaker and drawn by his frequent collaborator Sean Phillips, is about a depressed 28-year-old graduate student named Dylan who attempts suicide after hearing the woman he loves and his roommate talk about him in disparaging terms. But Dylan somehow survives the attempt and is visited by a demon, who tells him that he spared the young man's life — but not without a price: Dylan will now be allowed to live one month for each person he kills.

Although he initially thinks it's all a hallucination, Dylan begins to feel sick toward the end of the first month and decides he must find someone to kill — a person who in his estimation deserves to die, in this case a child molester. But then he has to start making the same choice every month going forward.

The book's first issue was published by Image Comics in August 2016 to mostly positive reviews, and is unusual in that it is an ongoing series as opposed to the kinds of limited stories that Brubaker usually pens. It was nominated in 2017 for four Eisner Awards: Best Continuing Series, Best Writer, Best Cover Artist, and Best Coloring.

Brubaker's other books include Criminal, Fatale, The Fade Out, The Authority and runs on series like Batman, Daredevil, Uncanny X-Men and of course Captain America, for which he wrote the now-classic "Winter Soldier" storyline.

Stahelski is now getting ready to shoot John Wick: Chapter 3 and is attached to direct the Highlander reboot. His slightly surreal style seems like it would be a good fit for Brubaker's work. No word yet on when this will start production, but what do you think -- are Stahelski and Brubaker a good combo?

Creator/writer Ed Brubaker talks with Blastr about his Eisner-winning graphic novel, The Fade Out, and his brand-new title, Kill or Be Killed