Why Isn't This A Film? - Strikeforce: Morituri

What have we got here then?

Strikeforce: Morituri is a Marvel comic property that ran for thirty-one issues from 1986 to 1989.

OK fine. What’s it about?

Set in the year 2069, the Strikeforce of the title refers to a group of humans who have undergone The Morituri Process, a scientific discovery which gives the subjects superhuman powers. Those chosen to undergo the process are Earth's best hope against an invading species of aliens known as The Horde.

Interesting. Is there something more?

Ah yes, there's a crucial wrinkle: anyone who undergoes the process has a maximum of one year to live. They may not have mentioned that on the recruitment posters.

Save me the trouble then – is it any good?

This one-shot re-issue, released by Marvel in January ahead of the re-issue of the full volumes of Morituri, is an excellent first issue of a comic with a lot of potential. The story is told carefully, with a lot of craft and patience with most of the space given over to the main character, Harold Carl Everson, giving a lot of thought as to whether he wants to undergo the process or not. Its an origin story and it's one that wisely keeps the superhero powers in the background and foregrounds the very human fears of the protagonists. Chris Nolan would love it.


The art is of the 'vintage' variety, which probably means some will love it and others will hate it and there's perhaps not enough focus on Everson's personal life but this is a really accomplished first effort, which sets the story up fantastically well. There's little here to not like.

What are its chances of being made as a film?

It is well-accepted that Marvel is looking for films which could be considered 'franchise starters', and potentially has two 2014 release windows to fill given that the ones listed on IMDb (Deadpool and Nick Fury in particular) seem unlikely. The potential sticking point for Marvel doing the film is the report from The Wrap in July 2011 that Waterman Entertainment had optioned the rights for the property and were moving towards filming round about now. The fact that there's no further word on that suggests that it has, at best, stalled, although the film does have an IMDb entry in a 'pre-production' state. The republishing of the comic, by Marvel, might complicate things but it certainly seems as though the interest is there, from a few people at least, to get this on to the big screen.

But who'd star in it?

The Morituri process is revealed, within the back story of the comic, to work best when applied to candidates of eighteen years or under. Whilst this is probably a studio's dream (particularly after the relative success of young-fronted X-Men: First Class), it does mean that the casting is probably likely to favour unknowns, particularly in a franchise that isn't a known quantity and would, probably, kill off most or all of its characters by the end of its first film. The likes of, say, Robert Sheehan, Shailene Woodley, Lauren Cohan and anyone else from TV and/or non-major franchises, who are probably looking for this sort of role, would be in the frame. Ignore the 'eighteen rule' all together from the source material and you open up the casting significantly: are mainstream audiences really ready to see a load of eighteen year-olds die off at the end of a superhero film?

Will it be any good?

The idea has massive on-screen potential and overcomes one of the huge problems with superhero films: the lack of threat. The fact that you know these characters have a huge internal problem could really help to drive the narrative along and perhaps bring alienated core comics fans back into the target audience. The problem with going down the 'under-eighteen' route is that it could become a watered-down, tween-friendly, Twilight replacement, which would admittedly probably work well for one audience but would really turn off the comics' devotees. As ever with comics, a TV series could provide a happy middle ground.

Anything else I should know about it?

iFanboy carried out an exercise imagining what form a potential reboot of the comics could take. If a film gets a Marvel greenlight, this could also be a possibility.

Why Isn't This A Film? is a regular Film Intel feature which takes a book (you know... one of those things with pages in, doesn't project on to a screen, makes small rustling noises), comic, video game or graphic novel and assesses its adaptation prospects. One day this feature will get something right and we will win something major and valuable. Possibly.

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