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Why Bloodshot Means More Than You Know For Superhero Movies - Exclusive

In the weeks leading up to its release, Bloodshot had a lot going for it — a recognizable, franchise-leading star in Vin Diesel; slick sci-fi action in its trailers; a diverse cast; and more. It seemed primed to deliver something solid at the box office. Then the COVID-19 pandemic clamped down on the world, and by the time Bloodshot actually made it to theaters, some countries — including China, the second-largest film market in the world as of December 2019 — weren't even showing movies anymore. Still, that didn't stop the film from selling nearly $30 million in tickets worldwide, and then leaping to the video on demand market, where people just kept finding it. The story of a soldier who's reborn as a super soldier via nanites in his bloodstream quickly became a streaming hit — going toe-to-toe with other major releases like Onward and Jumanji: The Next Level, and even landing a #1 spot on the Amazon Prime sales charts by the end of March 2020.

In an exclusive interview with Looper, Dan Mintz, Bloodshot's executive producer, spoke about the film's unconventional success against enormous odds and what it means for the future of superhero cinema.

"That obviously makes you feel good. I think the response to the film has been very strong. Look, nobody could have predicted anything in these particular circumstances. However, under the circumstances, the fact that it has done so well shows that there's a real want for [these movies]," said Mintz. "And also, remember, we're planting seeds. These are not one-off standalone films in that respect. They're all building a kind of overarching umbrella understanding of what Valiant is, and a viewpoint. This is not easy to do, but I would say as a goal, I would like to in the future if possible, if someone was to see three films and no logos came out, they would be able to say which is a Valiant film, which is a Marvel film and which is a DC film. I think being that defined about who you are and who you're not is really something that I believe is important."

The "Valiant" Mintz is referring to is the Valiant Cinematic Universe, a planned multi-franchise world of heroes and antiheroes inspired by the characters of Valiant Comics, which Mintz now owns through his company DMG Entertainment. Bloodshot works as its own film, but in Mintz's eyes, it's also the first step in something much bigger: a superhero universe that can stand proudly alongside the other comic book behemoths that came before.

The building blocks of a cinematic universe

With Bloodshot completed, Mintz and his team at Valiant and DMG are looking towards the future, even as the entire entertainment industry faces uncertainty at a time when many theater chains still don't have a date for reopening. Though Mintz said he was pleased to see the film's robust performance among in-home viewers, he doesn't see a permanent evolution beyond the power of the theatrical experience.

"If there's one thing that this unfortunate situation has taught us is that we really, really crave to have interaction with each other," said Mintz. "We're social animals, and to think that we're never going to go and go to a concert or watch a film together, I don't think that's realistic. Having said that, obviously technology is always changing, it's always adding to the landscape. It makes an ability for us to reach people that we wouldn't have been able to reach before. I think slowly there will be some shifts in [film release windows], but it's definitely not going to be that dramatic."

Release windows aside, Mintz and the rest of the team behind the budding Valiant Cinematic Universe also have to look ahead to future collaborators to make their films, while also retaining a sense of brand unity and recognition as the movies spread out. That means striking the often difficult balance between a director's individual vision and the production team's plans for the overall universe. 

"Setting up the platform and setting up a director to succeed is the most important part. You have the team that comes in — because remember, they're going to come in and out and they'll do this filming — and our job is to connect them to have the overarching understanding of where it's going to be over many years, because it's a long term relationship with the fans that we have," explained Mintz. "Being able to bring in these wonderfully talented people and have the platform to support them and have them bring their point of view into things, at the same time holding true to who Valiant is... It's not an easy thing to do, but it is something that we spend a lot of time on."

Thinking beyond Bloodshot

So, what comes after Bloodshot? A lot of things, if Mintz has his way. 

He told Looper that he and his teams are already thinking of potential projects years down the line, but next up on the development slate is Harbinger, based on the Valiant Comics series of the same name about a group of super-powered individuals who find themselves on different sides of a corporate struggle over their powers. While Bloodshot was a Sony production, Harbinger is in development at Paramount Pictures, which could present certain issues in terms of crossing over characters further down the line. For Mintz, sorting out some version of interconnectedness is a major priority. 

"Well, we're trying to really, again, learning from the masters of the past, we try to avoid spreading this out too much because there are pros and cons to it," he said. "Obviously, we saw what happened at Sony with Spider-Man and then obviously before Disney acquired Fox, those characters were over there. We're trying to definitely navigate through that, and definitely I think that we're looking towards connecting everything, for sure. That's got to be the big push after [Harbinger]."

Though Mintz couldn't speak specifically about what lies beyond Harbinger at this point, he did mention that both Diesel and Sony are "all about" Bloodshot sequel, while development continues on projects centered on Valiant characters Faith, Quantum, and Woody. Regardless of which film comes next, though, the overall key — and the thing Mintz hopes will continue to propel Valiant in the eyes of fans — is a sense of ambitious universe building. 

"I can tell you that moving forward, the connected versions and the connected universe is really, really key. I mean, that's just got to happen now," he said. "For us, that is a huge focus and that brings you through all of the Immortal Brothers [the three universe-connecting, ages-old Valiant characters the Eternal Warrior, Timewalker, and Armstrong] and everyone who just has these incredible stories to tell and the team-ups you'll see and the dilemmas that they get into. Definitely, that's the future."

Bloodshot is available to rent or own now on-demand and on Blu-ray and DVD.