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Bloodshot Creator Bob Layton Talks Vin Diesel-Led Adaptation

Bloodshot is headed for the big screen — and the adaptation has co-creator Bob Layton more pumped up than a guy with a bloodstream full of nanotech.

As we reported back in March, the Bloodshot movie has gone full speed ahead since Sony Pictures landed Vin Diesel in the title role, playing the former mafia assassin whose life takes a turn for the weird when he's betrayed (first by his mob family, then by the F.B.I.) and forced to participate in a secret experiment designed to produce the perfect killing machine. His blood is infused with nanites, giving him enhanced strength and a crazy healing factor but also robbing him of his memories. His quest to regain his identity spells bad news for anyone who tries to get in his way (particularly those who wronged him). 

Recently, Layton — who also had a hand in creating the tech-based Marvel heroes Iron Man and Ant-Man — sat down with Deadline to discuss the project, which he described as "something very fresh and subversive to the genre." 

This should get fans plenty excited, particularly because Valiant Comics was initially highly resistant to any proposed film adaptations of Layton's character — that is, until producer Neal Moritz stepped into the fray, bringing star Diesel with him.

Moritz and Diesel have a long history of box office success. Moritz brought the original The Fast and the Furious film to the screen and has been involved as a producer on every subsequent entry of that wildly popular franchise, and Layton told Deadline that with that producer/star combo, "we knew that we had a team capable of doing justice to the character." He also had high praise for first-time director Dave Wilson, whom he said "[allowed] more access to the shoot than any other director I've worked with," and scribe Eric Heisserer, who won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for 2016's sci-fi smash Arrival

Perhaps more interesting than that is what Layton said the film will not be: a pretender to the throne of mighty Marvel Studios. True to the spirit of Valiant, which he said created a universe that "looked and felt like the real world and not a fictional, comic book fantasy realm where anything could happen," the filmmakers behind Bloodshot appear to be going for a style all their own.

"The team making the Bloodshot film has never set out to make a 'superhero movie,' per se," said Layton. "This film is going to have much more in common with action/sci-fi films like Total Recall and Robocop than it does X-Men or Deadpool. That's always been the point-of-view and I don't believe anyone on our team had any interest in emulating Marvel Studios' films."

Layton had high praise for the cast as well, including the spot-on choice of Diesel in the lead and Guy Pearce ("one of my favorite actors"), who took on the role of the scientist responsible for Bloodshot's creation after Michael Sheen departed due to scheduling conflicts. 

But perhaps Layton's most telling remark is that he was beyond impressed with the dedication of all involved — particularly Diesel, who he said was "obsessed" with getting the character right, and who famously takes his comic book roles quite seriously.

"For me, going there and seeing the amount of effort being put in, and the amount of passion from the principal players, the cast and crew, it made me feel very hopeful that we are going to get the high-quality Bloodshot movie that we've all been waiting to see," Layton said, adding, "I felt an enormous sense of satisfaction that something so near and dear to my heart was coming to life. To go to the set and know that moviegoers are going to know Valiant, going to know Bloodshot — this character that I had a hand in — is an incredible feeling."

Bloodshot and Valiant Comics may exactly be household names yet, but if Layton's glowing reactions to the upcoming film are any indication, that could very well change soon. He even left open the door for a possible — you guessed it — Valiant Cinematic Universe, which, of course, would raise the imprint's profile like never before. With three Marvel Studios entries per year on tap for the foreseeable future, Bloodshot's determination to set itself apart from the style and tone of the monolithic MCU can only work in its favor, and all signs point to the production shaping up to be as unique and compelling as its title character.

Bloodshot is expected to hit screens sometime in 2020.