Little-known sci-fi fact: Brad Bird has been trying to make this animated, sci-fi noir for 20+ years

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Jul 6, 2016, 4:20 PM EDT

Back before he was the living legend behind The Incredibles and The Iron Giant, Brad Bird was a young director with a lot to prove and an idea for an animated, sci-fi noir called Ray Gunn.

Bird has been kicking around ideas for the project for more than two decades, and fought like crazy to get it made at Turner Entertainment (and later Warner Bros.) before finally being pushed over to work on The Iron Giant (which turned out pretty great, obviously). According to Mental Floss, the film would’ve told the story of the last human private detective investigating a pop singer named Venus Envy.

The world is filled with humans and aliens, and the story weaves into a nice murder conspiracy. At the time, it was described as the sweet spot between Buck Rogers and Raymond Chandler, with a classic 1930s sci-fi vibe. Bird reportedly said the idea came to him as a mash-up of the 1950s detective series Peter Gunn and the B-52s’ “Planet Claire.”

Sadly, the project remains trapped in purgatory to this day, though you’d have to think Bird has enough clout to get it made at some point in the next few years. Considering he’s been vocal about wanting to focus on a smaller project soon (fresh off the live-action mess that was Tomorrowland and the upcoming Incredibles sequel), we’ll keep our fingers crossed that it might get another shot some day.

Check out some concept art below and let us know what you think: