Michelle MacLaren to direct Chris Pratt's Cowboy Ninja Viking

Universal needs a seasoned creative to put its Chris Pratt-starrer Cowboy Ninja Viking in the saddle (and shinobi shōzoku garb… and a horned helmet). As it turns out, Michelle MacLaren is just the gal for the job. Per The Hollywood Reporter, MacLaren has officially signed on to helm the upcoming action flick. 

The filmmaker, who's racked up critical acclaim for her directing work on television series like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, beat out some serious competition to land the gig. MacLaren reportedly went up against Kung Fu Panda director Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Dope helmer Rick Famuyiwa, impressing studio Universal more than both those creatives in the end. 

Based on the Image Comics comic book from A.J. Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo, Cowboy Ninja Viking focuses on a counter-intelligence unit that transforms multiple personality disorder patients into powerful agents known as Triplets, referring to the three different personalities that exist inside their minds. The experiments go relatively smoothly under the watchful eye of psychotherapist Dr. Sebastian Ghislain, but when the division falls apart shortly after, the agents are again turned into something brand new: hired killers. The most powerful Triplet of all, Duncan (who possesses characteristics of a cowboy, a ninja, and a viking), is tasked with taking down his troubled brethren.  

Zombieland writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese wrote the original script for Cowboy Ninja Viking, with The Hangover II scribe Craig Mazin penning the most recent draft of the screenplay. Entertainment 360, Mark Gordon (Molly's Game), Michael De Luca (The Social Network), and star Pratt produce the film. Sara Scott oversees production on behalf of Universal. 

Though she's best known for her finesse behind the camera for small screen ventures, MacLaren is stepping into the world of helming films with Cowboy Ninja Viking. She was originally attached to direct 2017's box office phenomenon Wonder Woman, but departed from the project following creative differences with studio Warner Bros. (Patti Jenkins wound up getting that job.) MacLaren has the World War II thriller film The Nightingale to direct for TriStar sometime next year, but considering that Cowboy Ninja Viking is arriving on June 28, 2019, the latter will most likely be her feature directorial debut.