Why We're Worried About Seth Rogen's Preacher Adaptation

Known best for stoner comedies, Seth Rogen and his long-time writing partner Evan Goldberg are making a significant departure with their adaptation of Preacher for AMC. Though the comics are humorous, it's a kind of dark humor possibly more suited for a filmmaker like Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), rather than the guys who made an entire movie about their favorite marijuana. Hardcore fans of Preacher are worried, but regardless, the pilot is already in production. Here's what could go wrong.

The Source Material Is Different From Anything Seth Rogen Has Ever Done

Preacher is the Vertigo comic by writer Garth Ennis about Jesse Custer, a Texas preacher whose body becomes inhabited by the unholy offspring of an angel and a demon. Vowing revenge for God's negligence, Jesse—along with his deadly girlfriend Tulip and his friend Cassidy, a hard-drinking Irish vampire—sets out to find God and make him answer for abandoning his flock. Along the way they encounter a wide cast of depraved characters, almost all of whom speak to the larger themes of religious corruption and good versus evil. Subjecting his main characters to extreme degradation, Ennis underlines his controversial viewpoints with shocking sex and violence. To say this is a far cry from Knocked Up is an understatement.

Some Very Important Main Characters Haven't Been Cast Yet

Even though AMC only ordered a pilot so far, the geek forums are ablaze with script critiques and casting complaints, particularly about who isn't set to appear. The general consensus looks like everyone's fine with Dominic Cooper and Joseph Gilgun being cast as Jesse and Cassidy, respectively. There's been some controversy, however, over Ruth Negga, an African American actress, snagging the role of Tulip, because the character is white in the comics. Most glaringly absent, however, are actors for The Saint of Killers and Herr Starr, arguably the two biggest antagonists of the comics. There are no casting announcements for either character and with the pilot already in production as of this writing, fans are wondering if they will appear at all.

Previous Productions Were Shelved Over Religious Controversy

There's enough cringe-worthy content in every single issue of Preacher to make a real-life holy man pass out. Previously, three adaptation attempts failed, all due to religious controversy. And these were at places like HBO, Columbia Pictures, and Miramax; home of The Leftovers, The Da Vinci Code, and Priest, respectively. Any of these outlets could allow a series like Preacher to explore not only its controversial religious themes, but also its graphic sexually and violent plotlines. But, AMC? Sure, The Walking Dead finds creative new ways to eviscerate zombies every week, but that's nothing compared to what goes on in Preacher. Just ask Arseface, the character who attempted suicide by shotgun, but survived, leaving his face looking like, well...

Multiple Directors Could Mean An Inconsistent Visual Aesthetic Or Tone

With directors Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: Episode VIII) and Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) slated to helm some episodes, Preacher seems to be in capable hands. But these are film directors who've had success executing their singular visions, not smaller episodic parts of a whole. For example, Cary Fukunaga's ambitious direction of every episode of season one of True Detective was largely responsible for creating the tone and atmosphere of that show. With season two seeing a different director almost every episode, the show has an uneven, confusing feel in which even the actors seem lost. Hopefully, showrunner Sam Catlin (Breaking Bad) and AMC will use the tested Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) method of collaboration to keep Preacher on course right up to the final show.

The Green Hornet

Rogen and Goldberg took a crack at a comic book adaptation in 2011 with The Green Hornet. Even with the usually deft hand and innovative visual style of director Michel Gondry, this film was by all accounts unwatchable. Rogen himself lamented the production, citing his lack of experience with the type of budget and studio machinations involved in such a project. He also felt he couldn't incorporate elements that "his type of people" come to expect from his work, indicating his inherent desire to imprint his style. This doesn't bode well for Preacher, as there's nothing "stoner" or "bro comedy" about it. Since The Green Hornet, Rogen and Goldberg collaborated on big projects, like This Is The End, and The Interview, so hopefully they've at least learned how to wrangle a large budget.