We must soon hit some critical mass when it comes to genre mash-ups and goofy nods to classic ideas. Cowboys & Aliens will be an interesting experiment when it arrives in theaters next summer. The title makes the film sound absurd, but from what I’ve seen (a good amount) it looks as if Jon Favreau and his cast and crew have assembled a film that has the potential to go above and beyond a silly “hey, what if cowboys fought aliens?” pitch. But that’s because a post-Iron Man Jon Favreau was able to get a solid script and a wonderful cast. Looks like the exception, not the rule.

So what of Cowboy Ninja Viking? Disney has just put that film into development by hiring Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to write a script based on the Image Comics graphic novel created by AJ Lieberman and Riley Rossmo. More details on that, as well as what Rhett Reese has to say about Zombieland 2 and Deadpool, after the break.

Deadline announces Cowboy Ninja Viking, which sounds like a great drunk Halloween costume. But as a movie? More to the point: as a Disney movie? Here’s a summation of Cowboy Ninja Viking:

Duncan is the result of a secret government program to create soldiers for the war on terror. This experimental regimen conscripts people suffering from multiple personality disorder and turns them into “triplets,” highly lethal operatives possessing three distinct personalities drawing from warrior/tough guy archetypes. Duncan serves as the reader’s entry point into a complex web of espionage and violence that grows more intriguing as we are let in on exactly what’s up with Duncan, the people who want to drag him back into the fold, and the rest of the triplets that remain at large.

I can see this being a lot of fun as a comic. It isn’t difficult to imagine it generating a wildly entertaining film as a small production where there isn’t a huge budget to worry about recouping, and where the creators could therefore go crazy with ideas. Somehow I don’t think that’s what we can expect to get out of Disney with this movie. The drive to grab comic properties as possible tentpole generators is getting way out of hand, and despite hiring this particular writing team, this still seems like a misguided idea.

Meanwhile, Rhett Reese told io9 that Zombieland 2 would use more ‘nontraditional storytelling’ techniques and some ‘creative uses of 3D’ to show the quartet of survivors from the first film joined by new survivors as they continue to make their way across America. But don’t hold out for any attempt to top the big cameo from the first film, as “Reese was pretty clear that trumping that “don’t cross the streams” cameo is pretty impossible.”

While all the actors from the first film (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) have expressed interest and/or willingness to come back for the sequel, none of them have read the script at this point. So don’t assume that anything is set just yet.

Finally, two drafts into their work on Deadpool, the writers are waiting for a director to be hired so they can continue to craft the story and script. The film will see Deadpool before he was Deadpool, and we’ll see him both masked and scarred. It’s a balancing act, given that part of the film’s marquee draw will be the handsome face of Ryan Reynolds.

Of the basic approach to the character, Mr Reese said,

Ultimately, I think despite how fun he is in the now, we really did want to explore how he became that way and why he became that way, we definitely delve into that… He’s a warped character, and that’s why he’s so fun to write… He’s completely crazy. That’s the joy of writing him. You don’t have to place any limits on decorum, or what might pop into his head, what reference he might make to pop culture. He’ll go anywhere and say anything and that’s the joy of writing him. So we really enjoy that but we also did enjoy exploring a little bit of his origin.

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