"Bloodshot" Producer Shares How The Film Will Subvert From Superhero Movie Tropes

"Bloodshot" is one of the most exciting upcoming additions to superhero films. For those unfamiliar with the property, the character first debuted in 1992 and has been one of the most popular titles under Valiant Comics since then. The film adaptation is being brought to life in collaboration with Columbia Pictures and distributed by Sony, with Vin Diesel set to star as the titular character.

One of the film's producers, Dinesh Shamdasani, previously worked as the CEO of Valiant and is now a co-founder at Hivemind alongside other industry creatives that work to make the best adaptations as possible of books, comics, etc. into film and television properties. Shamdasani spoke on the "Hivemind Presents" panel at New York Comic Con and gave an exclusive insight into the film's inception and the creative process of adapting the comic character for the big screen. With only a few months until its release, fans have been eagerly anticipating any sort of insight into when the film's promotional campaign will begin.

"We wrapped principal photography. We have an edit. Visual effects are well underway. The studios Sony and Columbia have been incredibly aggressive about giving us the resources we need. I probably shouldn't say this, even yesterday on the Sony lot we were running around getting a little footage done, some inserts, close-ups, things like that. They've just been so supportive. Where we are is, there's a trailer, it's coming, [and] posters are coming. We're just at the tail end of doing the finishing, tweaking things, making it cool before the marketing campaign starts. Before the end of the year, I shouldn't say because Sony will kill me, but I highly recommend people watch Terminator: Dark Fate. I'm definitely getting in trouble."

Shamdasani has a unique perspective to share about bringing the film to life due to his previous work at Valiant giving him a better understanding of the source material when adapting it in collaboration with a major film studio. "Valiant [is] a publisher, it's the third largest publisher historically in comics. Bloodshot is one of the marked characters there. We had this plethora of characters to pick from. Bloodshot was the one that we identified, and said this is the one we wanted to push out first because it felt like it was the most naturally translatable to a film genre. The genre that we wanted to fit into, to translate it to, was the kind of sci-fi action, heady films that you would see especially in the '80s and '90s, things like Total Recall, Terminator, those kinds of films, RoboCop. What's fun about this is the audience is so well tuned to those movies now, we know them backwards and forwards, we know the Marvel movies backwards and forwards, and so we really challenged the creative team to figure out how we could subvert expectations. Eric Heisserer who wrote Arrival and was nominated for that for Best [Adapted] Screenplay [at the Oscars] and then has since done Bird Box, he wrote some comics for us at Valiant which, I highly recommend Secret Weapons, it's a great book. [He] really cracked a story in which you walk into the movie theater thinking you're getting one movie and about thirty minutes in, hopefully if we've done our job [you'll] sit there going, 'I can't believe this has happened. I have no idea where this movie is going' but you're excited. What's great about that is you just never get that experience anymore. Everything is given away to you online. Movies follow such a formula. Vin Diesel, our star, was so supportive of this. He, I think, was also feeling this because he's made these kinds of movies so much that breaking that formula is so rare to find the opportunity to do."

Shamdasani is full of praise for Vin Diesel and his passion for the project. "His persona is perfect for it. [We got him] through asking him relentlessly and not taking no for an answer. No, when he read the script, that was really the defining piece. Even when we were shooting on set, he was very involved. He's now a producer on the movie, He's very, very, very involved. He's made so many movies at such a high level that he really becomes the godfather of production. He knows every aspect of it. He was marshalling us to push the narrative. It was that subversion and the emotionality, which is not something you would think you'd be talking about with a movie called Bloodshot, that he really was like, 'This is why I'm doing it', because it does the things that the other movies in this genre don't really do. It also was the idea that when he first broke out, it was in Pitch Black, there was the point of view that you would hope he would become this big sci-fi action star and he's become this big star in a different way. What's really cool about Bloodshot is that it's the kind of movie that when you go and watch it, the opening sequence is him in full military fatigues. He looks awesome [in] a really cool set piece. By the end of the movie he's fighting this big science fiction fight with this guy with mechanical arms, I'm thinking about what I can say here, just the journey to go from there to there is this big, epic journey. At the same time, it's a character film. We don't have the budget. It's a hundred million dollar movie but it's not a three hundred million dollar movie. We're not competing with Marvel in spectacle. We're competing with Marvel and hopefully outdoing them, which is a big statement I know, in terms of character and emotion."

As is often the case when adapting comic characters to the big screen, extensive discussions and thought have been put into deciding how to make Bloodshot look relative to his original appearance and wardrobe in the comics. Shamdasani was mindful of this detail in the film's production. "It is in many ways an origin story and in many ways not, which is what I mean by subversion. That allows us to do the comic accurate iconic look, I don't want to spoil it for you, in a way that will be satisfying but perhaps not the way that it's feared. I think a lot of fans, myself included, would fear that we're gonna do the white skin, red chest the whole time and it's not going to fit. It would feel disconnected to the real world. There is a way that I think the filmmakers have built this that I think is very much in keeping [true to the comics]. That's actually one of the last things that we're dialling into the effects which I'm hoping gets done in time because we're trying to get it into the trailer. If not, sorry Bloodshot you're going to have to wait till the second trailer. It'll be worth it though."

Originally when the deal was made between Sony and Valiant to use the Bloodshot and Harbinger characters, the talks and news stories reporting on the matter seemed to favour the narrative that this would be the start of a larger Valiant Cinematic Universe. However, it was more recently reported that Paramount had acquired the rights from Sony to adapt Harbinger. Shamdasani clarifies the matter in regards to a Valiant Cinematic Universe.

"We had many conversations. There was Toyo Harada, [who] was at one point [in talks] to be in the film, H.A.R.D. Corps was where we [wanted] to end it, these are other characters in the Valiant Universe. Unfortunately Valiant has its own plans, different management system now, that's all off the table. There's a Bloodshot film. If it's a success, we get to make more, then there will be a Bloodshot world. The rest of it is up to Valiant. I think it will be unlikely for that to happen now."

When the panel opens up for an audience Q&A, I chime in to enquire about how the saturation of superhero material in the film/TV industry has effected the process of adapting Bloodshot for the big screen. I also ask about the villains of the story, and whether they were characters designed in their own right or if they were created to serve the larger story of Bloodshot's character journey. Shamdasani responds eagerly.

"In terms of saturation we were a little tricky with it. We got the movie made because superhero films are so successful and saturated, but the movie really only works if you've seen enough superhero films to kind of be bored by the formula. Our hope is that it is saturated to such an extent and I think Endgame really helped put a cap on what Marvel was doing for a long time and now they're gonna start a new thing. We're kind of coming in at the right time, we're very lucky, as a commentary and a subversion of some of the things they've done, ultimately embracing I think what will be the next phase of where the genre goes. In terms of the villains, we had villains that we had all built and they were frankly terrible. Our director Dave Wilson who is a genius and worked at Blur [Studios] which is with Tim Miller who did Deadpool [which] is very very visual, came in and was like, 'These are garbage. Let me create new ones.' We were like, 'Whatever, kid. You don't know what you're talking about.' Then he showed them to us and we were like, 'Cool man. Can you direct this for us, please?'"

"Bloodshot" will be released in cinemas 21 February 2020.

All quotes were sourced from the Bloodshot portions of the Hivemind Presents panel at New York Comic Con and can be verified here:


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