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What The Preacher Trailer Tells Us About The Show

AMC has debuted the first trailer for its upcoming series, Preacher. The show is an adaptation of the eponymous Vertigo cult comic series (written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Steve Dillon) that ran from 1995 to 2000. Much like the comic, the show will follow the adventures of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a preacher with supernatural powers. He's joined by his companions: his ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and an Irish vampire named Cassidy (Joel Gilgun). The trailer, appropriately enough, gave us some clues for what to expect when Preacher begins its run in mid-2016...

Modern-Day Western

The comic is essentially a modern day western. The series, based on the trailer, reflects this style. The viewer sees contemporary versions of western staples like isolated chapels, grassy plains, and dingy saloons. The closest stylistic approximation to what viewers see in the trailer may be the Coen Brothers' 2007 movie, No Country for Old Men. The comic also idealizes vigilante justice. Jesse Custer, like a gunslinger from a 1960s TV western, is on the side of good—but chooses to dispatch justice himself either out of necessity or personal preference. The trailer's main focus is a young boy asking Jesse to beat up his abusive father. Viewers can likely expect more of this western-style vigilantism in the series.

Willing To Differentiate

Despite the aforementioned similarities to its source material, the Preacher series, much like AMC's other big comic adaptation, The Walking Dead, does not seem afraid to stray from the books. In the comic Jesse's ex, Tulip, is a white character. Ruth Negga, however, is an Ethiopian-Irish actress. One of Cassidy's main character traits in the comic is that he always wears sunglasses. Joel Gilgun's portrayal of Cassidy looks glasses-free. These may seem like small things, but they are nevertheless indicative of a careful adaptation, in which the screenwriters and producers are not so enthralled to the source material that they would let it negatively impact the show. What works in one medium of entertainment, after all, may not translate to others. What does this mean for Preacher? Will a beloved character from the comics meet an unexpected death? Will a minor character from the books play a greater role in the show?

Appropriately Raw

Preacher is perhaps one of the most violent, edgiest comic books ever created. The series' trailer indicates that the show certainly will not shy away from violence. Jesse, for example, is seen breaking a redneck's arm in a bar. Cassidy dispatches someone in an airplane with what appears to be a broken wine bottle. Needless to say, expect that AMC will bring the same gruesome intensity to Preacher that it brought to viewers in The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad.

Pushing The Edge

This is not the first time that filmmakers have attempted to adapt Preacher. In the early 2000s, director and ardent comic book fan Kevin Smith attempted to produce a movie based on the property. Several years later, HBO also expressed interest in producing a series. Both projects fell through in part because of the controversial nature of its take on religious (or sacrilegious, to be more accurate) themes and iconography. Preacher is indeed likely to incite ire in the more devout sectors of the American public. Yet, particularly with The Walking Dead, AMC has demonstrated its willingness to be push the limits of television in the past. This, combined with the nature of the trailer itself (e.g., a holy man assaulting someone), means the network will likely retain the comics' religious/anti-religious themes despite the anger they may engender on The 700 Club.

A Departure For Seth Rogen

Fans were skeptical when AMC announced that funnyman Seth Rogen would co-develop the series. The actor's resume of marijuana-themed comedies like Pineapple Express seems an awkward fit for the Preacher's often somber, violent storyline. Fortunately, if the trailer is any indication, Rogen's typical comedic instincts have taken a backseat to his deep respect for the source material. AMC just better hope that Preacher doesn't offend any hackers aligned with North Korea.

Dark Humor

Just because Rogen will not insert stoner humor into the mix doesn't mean that Preacher will be a completely dour affair. The comic book is well-known for its dark humor. The character of Arseface, for example, (who will be in the series, but isn't seen in the trailer) is simultaneously tragic and hilarious. The same can be said for the gruesome fates met by the comics' villains. The trailer hints at this same dark sense of humor. Jesse is seen standing over a man in what appears to be the aftermath of a fight. The sheriff enters and commands him to stop. Jesse deadpans, "Almost done, sheriff." And then breaks the guy's arm.