This year marks the ending of two pop culture phenomenons: Game of Thrones and the Marvel cinematic universe. In their wake looms an undeniable vacuum in the zeitgeist, creating new opportunities for the next franchise bold enough to step forward.
Enter Valiant Comics – the third largest connected universe in comic book history – following Marvel and DC. In just three decades, Valiant has sold 81 million individual issues and their library includes more than 2,000 characters. In 2018, Dan Mintz’s DMG Entertainment acquired the comic book company and recently finished production on their first Valiant film, “Bloodshot,” starring actors Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce, Eliza Gonzalez, and Sam Heughan.
For fans of Valiant, this offers new ways to interact with beloved characters outside the boundaries of comic pages. Today we’re sitting down with founder and filmmaker Dan Mintz to discuss the Valiant acquisition, the power of the connected universe, and finding the moral core of a superhero franchise.
What makes DMG Entertainment the right home for Valiant Comics?
As a creator, you’re at your best when you’re working with material you’re passionate about, and that feels authentic to you; the kind of material that allows you to dig deep into the core of a character or the human condition. Comic books, to me, are the anchor of pop culture. And having worked on these films before, I think I have a sense of how to approach the process.
The Valiant comic book universe is a perfect fit for me. It’s a mature, connected universe with characters that are relevant to our time, and it brings this amazing worldview and diversity from its origins more than 30 years ago.
When you look at Valiant, what is it that influences the development process?
Everybody knows that with development, it all starts with characters and what drives them. Their worldview, their environment, how they grew up and become who they are – all these things influence their decisions. Their decisions, in turn, define the course of the Valiant universe. In that sense, defining the characters is key.
Before you ever start filming or approaching talent, you really have to take apart each character. The question that you have to ask yourself every day is “what story can I tell with this character that I can’t tell with any other?” Then, when you find those stories, you have to run with that!
I wanted to answer the questions that fans ask themselves. Who are these characters when they’re sitting alone in a room? Who do they spend time with? What is their world view? It’s about pushing past surface details and ‘good enough’ until you’re able to dig into the human behind the superhuman.
How do you define the core of a character?
Imagine bumping into a friend that you haven’t seen in years. On the surface, there might be differences in hairstyle, clothing, or mannerisms – but you still recognize them. Maybe it’s the way they walk, or the specific tilt of their head, but you know immediately that it’s them. On the flip side, if you never get to know a person beyond the surface level, then their uniqueness disappears with time and they become a stranger.
If you’ve built an authentic identity, the same thing holds true for a cinematic character. When someone in the theater watches our movies, before they ever see our logo, they should be able to immediately tell whether or not it’s a Valiant, DC Comics, or Marvel film. It’s difficult to achieve, but when you can do that, you’re unlocking an incredible depth that comes across in unexpected ways.
What do you think makes comic books so ripe for adaptation?
For me as a filmmaker, it’s not about comics as a format. They are essentially the serials of our day. With comics, we’re seeing stories that are reflective of the characters and events that are happening globally. Valiant has such a deep bench of diverse and relevant characters, which makes them easily accessible to fans around the world. There’s nothing more interesting than that.
What can you tell us about the identity fans can expect from the Valiant cinematic universe?
As the younger of the three interconnected comic universes, Valiant has always been a bit edgier with a global worldview. These are big, epic adventures that span thousands of years and they’re centered around characters with three dimensional problems. They’re stories that have attracted hardcore fans for over 30 years.
Valiant was born in the 1990s, and so in that sense, our stories and characters are naturally a product of their time. These stories are what attracted me to Valiant as a filmmaker, and they’re what I think will attract other filmmakers and exceptional talent.