Adi Shankar is not your typical Hollywood rebel. Having produced well-known films like Lone Survivor, Dredd, The Grey and Machine Gun Preacher, he has also embraced the underground via his bootleg shorts based on existing properties: there’s Venom: Truth In Journalism, The Punisher: Dirty Laundry, Power/Rangers and Judge Dredd: Superfiend, with more on the horizon.
Up ahead, Shankar is directing his first solo movie: Gods And Secrets, which aims to tackle the superhero movie explosion head-on. We spoke to the man himself about what to expect, and what else is up ahead…
12) From bootleg to Disney
Despite thumbing his nose at corporate Hollywood and its lawyers – thanks to his Judge Dredd: Superfiend and Power/Rangers bootleg short, which resulted in a legal spat with Power Rangers owners Saban Films – Shankar now works with Disney due to a deal with Disney-owned Maker Studios that will see him direct three digital projects. While he’s happy to talk about anything else, he apologetically says, “Disney PR actually asked me not to talk about it,” when asked about the deal.
2) Gods And Secrets
He’s currently shooting his debut feature, Gods And Secrets, described online as exploring ‘the darker ramifications of a world filled with superheroes – for the people they protect and the famous heroes themselves’. “It’s a dark superhero story where I’m messing with these archetypes we know,” is how he describes it. “It’s like a mash-up of a giant sweeping story and an intimate arthouse film told through the lens of superherodom.”
3) Inspired by the best
“My work tends to skew a little darker anyway,” he says. “This is a basically a superhero movie for Dredd fans.” Gods And Secrets will be like his signature bootleg projects, but with a lot of dark comedy. Shankar describes the tone and style as being like an amalgamation of Paul Verhoeven, John Carpenter and Tim Burton. “I’m comparing myself to three legends, so I sound immediately douchey,” he adds, “but it’s that.”
4) Comparisons with Watchmen
The chatter about comparisons to Alan Moore’s classic has been swift, and Shankar understands it on a surface level. “Subversive comic books have been a thing for a very long time in terms of flipping a genre on its head,” he says. “The Dark Knight Returns had a way bigger impact on the legacy of superheroes and comic books as a medium in general.” But it’s surprising to hear he’s not a fan of another of Moore’s most beloved works, “I actually thought Watchmen kind of sucked as a comic. I feel like there’s a lot of ‘emperor’s new clothes’ going on there.”
5) Superhero Fatigue?
To the untrained observer, it might seem like Hollywood is long past scraping the bottom of the barrel for new superhero ideas, but Shankar disagrees, saying our problem is with one specific type of story that just happens to be found in a lot of superhero movies. “The idea of a superhero movie has been going on since the birth of cinema,” he says. “Stallone and Schwarzenegger were basically playing superheroes; they just didn’t have capes and costumes, but they actually did have costumes. It’s literally just taking a character and giving them some sort of insignia, iconic car or outfit.”
Gods And Secrets will be released later this year. For more news about the biggest movies, pick up the new issue of SciFiNow.