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Welcome to the 'DMZ': Ava DuVernay's comic adaptation lands series order at HBO Max

By Matthew Jackson

A little more than a year ago, HBO Max put in a pilot order for an adaptation of the acclaimed DC Comics series DMZ, and tapped Selma and A Wrinkle in Time director Ava DuVernay to helm it. Now, DMZ is officially heading to the streaming service as a limited event series.

HBO Max announced Thursday that it has ordered a four-part limited series based on DuVernay's pilot, which stars Rosario Dawson and Benjamin Bratt and tells the story of a futuristic, second American civil war. Roberto Patino (Westworld), who developed the series with DuVernay and scripted the pilot, is set to showrun and write all four parts of the series. 

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to bring this epic to the screen with my boundary-pushing partners at WBTV and HBO Max, a sublime cast led by Rosario and Benjamin, and my partner and friend, the inimitable and ever-inspiring Ava DuVernay,” Patino said in a statement. “DMZ offers up an explosive playground which, more than anything else, exalts the resilience of community and the human spirit. I can’t wait to welcome the die-hard fans of the comic books and new viewers alike to this intoxicating, haunting and inspiring world.”

Originally published under DC's now-defunct Vertigo line beginning in 2005, DMZ is named for the "demilitarized zone" that is the alt-future island of Manhattan, which has been left "destroyed and isolated from the rest of the world" amid a new civil war in the near future. The limited series will tell the story of two divergent personalities within the DMZ: Alma Ortega (Dawson), a media just trying to get back to her lost son, and Parco Delgado (Bratt), the leader of one of the DMZ's most powerful gangs who's bent on ruling everything around him. 

An adaptation of DMZ has been in the works for several years, including a development period at SYFY back in 2014. Last October, HBO Max ordered a pilot under DuVernay's direction, and by early 2020 Dawson and Bratt joined the cast. The pilot wrapped production in March of this year, and production on the rest of the series is set to begin in 2021. In addition to Dawson and Bratt, DMZ will also star Hoon Lee (Warrior), Freddy Miyares (When They See Us) and Jordan Preston Carter (The Haves and the Have Nots). The series does not yet have a release date.