In the early ’90s, DC launched Vertigo, a lineup of comic books emphasizing mature/experimental/banagrams-crazy storytelling. Although some of the titles appeared to take place within the DC Universe proper, every Vertigo comic book was stylistic worlds away from mainstream superheroes.
Some of the great comic book stories of the last two decades came from Vertigo: Preacher, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man, The Invisibles, Transmetropolitan. And although it had already been running for a few years before the creation of Vertigo proper, Neil Gaiman’s mythological saga The Sandman is considered one of the defining products of the Vertigo house style. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been developing a Sandman movie for a couple years now, apparently as part of Warner Bros’ attempt to transform their reborn Superman franchise into a full-scale Justice League megafranchise. That plan appears to be changing—but only slightly.
EW has confirmed the news, originally reported by Deadline, that The Sandman is now being developed by subsidiary New Line. Deadline claims that this is part of a broader attempt to recreate the Vertigo comic book line in film form, with New Line potentially taking on weirdo projects like Swamp Thing, while Warner Bros. works on more mainstream fare like Wonder Woman and Aquaman and—oh dear God—maybe Green Lantern again.
Or maybe not: New Line is still developing the Shazam movie, which would appear to be closer in content to the superhero films in the DC/Warner Bros universe. (Shazam will star Dwayne Johnson, who’s practically New Line’s version of Robert Downey Jr., with this year’s San Andreas, next year’s Central Intelligence, the Journey franchise, and don’t you dare forget about Rampage.) Any other potential Vertigo projects seem like complete speculation at this point: Preacher is already set to become an AMC TV show next year; beloved supernatural detective John Constantine just headlined a failed NBC drama; Lucifer will be a Fox show about how the Devil helps the LAPD solve crimes; and iZombie, about an undead medical examiner who eats on the job, has been renewed for a second season on the CW.
Some of the most famous Vertigo comic books, like Y: The Last Man, were creator-owned, which means the rights belong to the writer and/or artist. But this could mean good things for that Unknown Soldier movie that you’ve been secretly hoping for, Darren.