Why the film of Frank Miller's Ronin isn't Watchmen redux

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Stomp the Yard director Sylvain White is making a strong bid to follow Zack Snyder as the go-to guy for comic adaptations: After a brief flirtation with Konami's beloved horror franchise Castlevania, White is busy in Puerto Rico adapting DC/Vertigo's The Losers and prepping Frank Miller's Ronin for a potential follow-up.

"[Ronin] is still being developed," White told a group of reporters last week. "I just got a new draft a week ago. It's looking really good and promising. I hope it gets to go."

Miller's Ronin, which began publication in 1983, takes place in a dystopic near-future New York in which a ronin—a rogue samurai warrior from feudal Japan—is reincarnated.

As opposed to, say, Snyder's Watchmen, White's approach on Ronin will be to pay homage to Miller's original vision without "replicating frames," as White put it. "Ronin is some Frank's earlier work," White said. "What's great, and what for me works in the graphic novel, aesthetically speaking, is the design of Aquarius, the design of New York. The frames in Ronin are some beautiful frames, and some I would go with, but what's beautiful to me about Ronin is the production design and the character design and the colors that are used. You want to always stay true to the graphic novel, but you're watching a different medium. If you make the fans happy because you paid good tribute to the source material, awesome. I don't think you make fans happy by just replicating frames. What they want to see is that you stayed true to the story, true to the characters and true to the design."

White went on to say that his version of Ronin would be a "big-budget, blockbuster take" and that 3-D may even be a possibility. "I'd love to do it in 3-D," he said. "I think it'd be ridiculous and amazing. That's an additional budget issue, but it's the kind of movie that would be great. I think it'd make a brilliant video game as well, something along the lines of Assassin's Creed, but from a first-person perspective, I think it's just a great property and a great concept. It's got so many ideas in it in terms of commentary and philosophy. Frank Miller is a genius when it comes to that."

Again making a Watchmen comparison, White went on to add that he doesn't see Ronin as a straight adaptation. "Zack's going to kill me," White said with a laugh. "But I think with Ronin we need a little bit of streamlining; otherwise, it's too esoteric. You need a little bit of streamlining, but the story and the characters, if I get to do that movie, will all be there. I'm the guy who wants to respect the authors and the source material as a fan of graphic novels who grew up reading them, whether it be in Europe or here. It's something that needs to be done right, and it hasn't really been done right."