Five Things with Adi Shankar

June 22nd, 2016 Film, Personalities, SciFiNow

The sensibilities of Hollywood’s superhero movie rebel.

1. From bootleg to Disney

Despite thumbing his nose at corporate Hollywood and its armies of lawyers thanks to the Judge Dredd and Power Rangers bootleg shorts (resulting in a legal spat with Power Rangers owners Saban Films), Shankar now works with Disney thanks to a deal with Disney-owned Maker Studios that will see him direct three digital projects. But those lawyers have some power – even while he’s happy to talk about anything else, he apologetically says ‘Disney PR actually asked me not to talk about it’ when asked about the deal.

2. Gods and Secrets

He’s currently shooting his debut feature, Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets, described online as exploring ‘the darker ramifications of a world filled with superheroes – for the people they protect and the famous heroes themselves’. “It’s a dark superhero story where I’m messing with these archetypes we know,” is the way he describes it to SciFiNow. “Tonally it’s like a mashup of a giant sweeping story and an intimate arthouse film told through the lens of superherodom.”

3. Inspired by the best

“My work tends to skew a little darker anyway,” he says, “this is a basically a superhero movie for Dredd fans.” Gods and Secrets will be like his signature bootleg projects, but with a lot of dark comedy. Shankar describes the tone and style as being like an amalgamation of Paul Verhoeven, John Carpenter or Tim Burton. “I’m comparing myself to three legends so I sound immediately douchey,” he adds, “but it’s that.”

4. Comparisons with Watchmen

A dark story about how superheroes might be as much of a liability in society – the chatter about comparisons to Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel has been swift, and Shankar understands it on a surface level. “Subversive comic books have been a thing for a very long time in terms of flipping a genre on its head,” he says. “The Dark Knight Returns had a way bigger impact on the legacy of superheroes and comic books as a medium in general.” But it’s surprising to hear he’s not a fan of Alan Moore’s classic. “I actually thought Watchmen kind of sucked as a comic. I feel like there’s a lot of emperors news clothes going on there.”

5. Superhero Fatigue?

To the untrained observer, it might seem like Hollywood is long past scraping the bottom of the barrel for new superhero ideas, but Shankar disagrees, saying our problem is with one specific type of story that just happens to be found in a lot of movies that feature superheroes. “The idea of a superhero movie has been going on since the birth of cinema,” he says. “Stallone and Schwarzenegger were basically playing superheroes, they just didn’t have capes and costumes – but they actually did have costumes. It’s literally just taking a character and giving them some sort of insignia or iconic car or outfit.”

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