Although not a new rumor, the director beat all of the trades to the official announcement himself, letting the world know via his Twitter feed (and Collider confirms it):
"My deal just closed on Preacher. Going back to the dark side and pretty f*cking pumped!"
Dark side, indeed. Although it was one of the most acclaimed comic books of the 1990s, 'Preacher' is not tame stuff, somehow finding the time and energy to offend anyone who is capable of being offended. To put it mildly, it's definitely a niche title. If you're new to the series, here's what you need to know.
1. The story
'Preacher' is the story of Jesse Custer, a small-town Texas preacher who finds himself possessed by a mysterious force called Genesis, the result of an affair between an angel and a demon. This gives him the ability to speak with "the word of God," meaning he can command any living thing to do what he says. Teaming up with his estranged assassin girlfriend and his hard-drinking Irish vampire buddy, he goes on an epic quest to track down God, who has abandoned heaven, and make him pay for all that he's done wrong.
2. 'Preacher' is wildly offensive in ways both childish and thoughtful
The series is filled with Ennis's ribald sense of humor, so there's certainly no shortage of sex, poop and vomit jokes. It's also excessively violent, often uncomfortably so, with Ennis often managing to mine pitch-dark comedy from characters being maimed in horrible ways. As if that wasn't enough, the series' stance on religion will undoubtedly be a major turn-off for a lot of folks, who certainly won't want to see a movie where the heroes are out to make God answer for abandoning his creation. Finally, Ennis finds time to piss off those who may be OK with an ultra-violent, black-humored comic series with an anti-religion slant by embracing a hardcore, right-wing political mindset that would make John Wayne proud. It makes sense: Our hero is routinely watched over and advised by the ghost of Wayne throughout the series. There is no way to not be uncomfortable at some point, which is kind of a stunning achievement.
3. 'Preacher' is epic
Seriously epic. As in "traveling all across the country as well as the world while occasionally venturing into heaven and hell" epic. There's no way to capture this entire story in one film, so how they'll adapt it remains a big mystery. As the story opens up, more villains are introduced (including the patron saint of murderers and an organization called The Grail that secretly runs the governments of the world and protects the bloodline of Jesus Christ) and the scope widens, raising the stakes of the story to an impossibly high level.
4. 'Preacher' is Americana, pure and simple.
Because he's Irish, Ennis is telling a truly American story through the lens of his childhood love of westerns. The "America" of 'Preacher' is not America as it actually is, but the America of John Ford, a vast, beautiful land where anything can happen and anyone can achieve anything if they work hard enough. Although the series is renowned for being dirty and distasteful, many ignore this aspect of 'Preacher,' possibly leading them to miss the entire point. Ultimately, this is the story of the friendship between our three leading characters and how their relationship (one of the strangest ever concocted, mind you) could have only been formed in America. If Caruso and his creative team understand this, they should be golden.
Hopefully, the series will make it through the adaptation process intact -- to dilute the 'Preacher' is to miss the point. If done right, it will have the rare honor of being something we truly haven't seen before on the big screen. Hopefully, Caruso and producers Neal Moritz and Jason Netter realize this and have the nerve to do justice by this property. Of course, there's always the chance that the entire project could fall apart again -- but isn't the third time the charm?
Feel free to start doom-saying and/or fancasting (which one of you is going to say Nathan Fillion first?) in the comments below.