Valiant Entertainment will be bringing their first character to the big screen with Bloodshot, portrayed by Vin Diesel, hitting theaters February 21, 2020 through Sony Pictures - and the man in the director's chair is Dave Wilson.
While Bloodshot will be Wilson's feature film debut, he has a pedigree that should put fans at ease - he is the creative director of Deadpool director Tim Miller's Blur Studio. Through Blur, Wilson made a name for himself with with cinematic trailers for games such as Star Wars; The Old Republic and The Division, and now Wilson - like his colleague Miller - jumps to the big screen with a comic book antihero.
In Bloodshot, U.S. Marine Ray Garrison and his wife are murdered, but Ray is revived by a secret team of scientists through the technology of nanites. They make him into the killing machine known as Bloodshot, who has no recollection of his life as Ray Garrison. But when his memories do begin to flood through Ray goes down the path of revenge to hunt down the person who murdered him and his wife.
Newsarama spoke with Wilson about February 21's Bloodshot and he explained how he knew Vin Diesel was perfect for the role, as well as the thematic exploration of technology that runs through both his film and the Bloodshot comic book
Newsarama: Dave, did you read any of the comics to prepare for the film?
Dave Wilson: I did. Obviously. I read them all actually. I had read a few prior to reading the script. I’m a comic book fan, but nowhere near as Dinesh Shamdasani or Hunter Gorinson are. I'm more of a science fiction, sort of novel guy. But I'd read some of the comics and then when I got the script and dug it, then I went back and read all the back issues. Particularly fond of the newest stuff that Jeff Lemire wrote, that was my favorite in the series.
Nrama: Would you like to focus on the family theme that Jeff Lemire ended up doing with his run in the future of the Bloodshot franchise?
Wilson: I always felt that was a fascinating part of the books, just family in general and especially the one that he doesn't really know whether he has or hasn't or what his past was. I felt like that was always like the manipulative quality of his memories I found particularly fascinating about that run. What was real and what wasn't? It was definitely an aspect of the comics that we lent into the film for sure.
Nrama: What fascinated you about Bloodshot’s character?
Wilson: Like I said, I'm a big science fiction fan. But my favorite science fiction authors are the, the sort of Daniel Suarez or Michael Crichton’s of the world. I feel like what they both do is they find a way to combine the authenticity of our reality with the wonderment of their imaginative eye concepts and they create these what if scenarios. I very much felt that way when I read Bloodshot and when I read the script. There's a grounding to the abilities and how the nanites enhanced his physiology that I really liked. So, the one aspect was can I find a way into this through technology that doesn't feel like it's so fantastical.
The other thing that I loved is that it had things from the 80s and 90s - action movies that I loved, like Robocop, Total Recall. Then the third thing I talked about was this sort of manipulative quality of what they're doing to him. There was a big thematic concept that I loved that when you combine the technology with that manipulative memory game they're playing with him. That was what most intrigued me, and this is going to sound a little TED Talk-y, but the big concept for me was this idea of the illusion of choice in that society rampant with technology, right? Technology, we use it all through our daily lives, like whether we're swiping left and right on Tinder or Googling the onset of something, or Waze is telling us which way to go.
There are boxes of logic that are helping shape our lives for us in our choices in our lives. But the manipulative quality is that those choices are being curated by corporations and agencies that are far beyond our control. I thought Bloodshot was - that there was a thematic idea there, but he was the personification of that problem. Like the apex of really maintaining agency in our lives, in the face of technology, pervasive technology.
And I love that concept to the film, but obviously it's wrapped in an incredibly entertaining superhero action movie. But I think you have to have something that you want to say with your movie, and that was ultimately what was at the core of it. It’s sort of rampant through the old books. I just love that idea of a hero struggling to find out who he really is, what he really stands for. And that self-discovery in the face of being manipulated is what attracted to me most. Look, and on top of that it was a big action movie and I love that stuff.
Nrama: How did you know Vin Diesel was perfect for the role?
Wilson: You know, it's funny, whenever I'm developing a movie, I feel like unless you're Steven Spielberg or Christopher Nolan, or someone like it, it's difficult to get excited about anyone because the challenge is, you never really know who you're going to get. There was always a shortlist of people that we knew we would love to play the part. And when I sat down with Vin for the first time and I took him through what the film was - there were two things that happened in that meeting that were pretty fabulous.
The first one is his 9-year-old son was with him when I think the fires were going on in Los Angeles and the schools were closed. So, his son was with him, we had all the artwork on the walls and the comics. It was like a mini convention in the studio that we were having a meeting at. Vincent, his son, could not stop asking all these questions about - "What's that?" "What happens here?" And I think Vin could see through his 9-year-old son's eyes, how intriguing that world was to him. Then the meeting ended with him tugging on his dad shirt saying "Daddy, I really want you to be Bloodshot."
And I knew Vin’s brother too, and he’s also a big Bloodshot fan, so you have this like nine-year-old boy and this adult both loving the world - for very different reasons I might add. And if a character can be that transcendent for different generations then that is pretty appealing.
I think for him it was wonderful watching him go through that experience, but I think on top of it is some of Vin’s other characters like Dom and Xander are very strong alpha male characters that are usually one step ahead of everyone else. And it's the complete opposite with Bloodshot, still the alpha male eventually, but he's very much being manipulated and very much one step behind them. Very much struggling to discover who he is and get a leg up on those who are keeping him oppressed. I think that was very appealing to him.
When did I know he was a right? That meeting, like right off of that meeting, just how much he got it and how excited he was. I feel like you just want to go on that journey with someone who is as passionate about it as you are. A week later we were all off to the races wanting to make a movie together. As soon as we can sit down and have a conversation about what the movie was and I could see how he was as excited as I was. I knew it was the right guy.
Nrama: Do you already have ideas for a sequel?
Wilson: Yes, I do have ideas. No, I can't tell you what they are. Would I do another one? Absolutely. It is a little hard to start talking about your second child while you're still the process of giving birth to the first one. Not that I have any experience with that, obviously, but I think I’ll still just focused on getting this one done. But it’s impossible not to think about what could come next and what should come next and getting excited about that.
It's funny as you get closer to the end - I mean, we've been behind closed doors for a year now with this movie and you know, the trailers, obviously the first thing we broadly shared with the world and the response it garnered was pretty fabulous. And I think that only gets you excited about even more for what's next. So, for sure - I'd be there tomorrow if we are lucky enough to do well enough for everyone to want us to make a sequel.
Nrama: Would you like a Valiant universe spinning out of this film. Would you like the other Valiant projects to be connected, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Wilson: Oh, absolutely. I think there's a huge universe and very well constructed to be interconnected. I can’t speak as eloquently as Dinesh or Hunter could, but I would definitely love to see that. There are other groups within in the Valiant universe that I adore.
I always thought Hardcore was an incredibly interesting group simply because I love technological grounding to superheroes. I felt like a lot of the concepts within Hardcore also are also similar in Bloodshot, but just in terms of like the transhumanism aspect of how we are using technology to augment human beings, but most specifically in Hardcore with the sort of neural implants. I love that idea and what that is going to do to society when they become something achievable is going to be very interesting. I think the class system that that'll introduce will be something we haven't ever seen before.
So, there are definitely fabulous aspects to it and interesting characters in the comics that I think would be wonderful to explore. The Harbinger, Bloodshot split and how they all fit in, where the movies are set up and not set up, and all of that feels like decisions that I couldn't really focus on while making this film. My mandate from day one was to make one good movie because if I stumble on this first step, it's only going to be that much harder to do anything else.
I'm making one great movie that not just Bloodshot fans can be proud of, but a general audience can enjoy. I feel like it's got to have a mass market appeal if we want to do anything bigger at all. So, for me it was focusing on the one film in front of us, but always leaving enough. But being smart enough to never paint us into a corner where there was no way we could explore more, which was why it was great having, having Dinesh with me through the course of the film. We always could leave crumbs or enough side streets that we could explore down should we need to sort of open the world up a bit more.
Nrama: If you do go forward with creating a universe, would you like to see a Valiant team, like the Avengers or Justice League?
Wilson: That’s a great question. I have not put enough time to it at this point to comment eloquently on. Especially, in terms that I don't want to mislead anyone in terms of what is possible and what characters I have access to at this point or we have access to. I think I will be probably getting ahead of myself and maybe getting people excited about potential collaborations that I can’t fulfill yet. So, I think I'll have to wait to answer that question.
Nrama: What do you think fans of the Bloodshot comics and Valiant will enjoy the most about this film?
Wilson: That's a great question. I tried not to build a movie that would only appeal to most hardcore fans because I feel like I want them to be able to go watch the movie with their friends that aren't fans and hopefully sort of indoctrinate them into a world that they're unfamiliar with rather than alienating them from that world. That's not to say there aren't all sorts of Easter eggs all throughout the movie that are specifically there for the hardest of hardcore fans. My goal was always to create a film that those fans could be proud to share with their friends that are not familiar with the comic book.
I didn't want to create something slavishly to the source material, but then wasn't a good movie. I'd rather give them a great movie that they're proud to share with their friends. That being said, there are some pretty spectacular action sequences that are very much in the vein of the visceral sort of violent aspect that is pervasive throughout the comic books. There are at least two big ones - three really, big sequences where we get to see him really being Bloodshot.
There's still more to come and other trailers to show a lot of it and there's certainly more to come in terms of his look and his power set of what he can and can't do. But there are some pretty incredible action sequences that I think are very faithful to the spirit of what made Bloodshot great in the books.