- Valiant Entertainment, home to the third-largest connected comic universe, behind Marvel and DC, is making its big-screen debut in February with "Bloodshot," starring Vin Diesel.
- Dan Mintz, the CEO of Valiant's parent company, DMG Entertainment, said he sees Valiant as "one of the top untapped IPs right now," with great potential for a cinematic universe.
- But Valiant has multiple projects in the works at separate studios — including a "Harbinger" movie recently picked up by Paramount — that could make connecting the universe difficult.
- On the publishing side, Valiant's comic sales have risen by 10% this year, and a new ongoing "Bloodshot" series is set to debut this month.
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There's room for another superhero movie universe — at least, that's what Valiant Entertainment is hoping.
Founded in 1989 by a group of comic-industry veterans, Valiant is home to the third-largest connected universe in comics, behind Marvel and DC, with over 2,000 characters. DMG Entertainment fully acquired Valiant early last year and has ambitious plans to grow its presence in Hollywood.
"Ultimately, it would be great if you saw a film and you could tell if it was a Valiant movie without seeing the logo," Dan Mintz, DMG Entertainment's cofounder and CEO, told Business Insider. "That goal drives us every day."
Mintz said he views Valiant as "one of the top untapped IPs right now," with great potential for a cinematic universe. But the biggest obstacle, at the moment, is that not all of its characters will be under one roof.
Valiant will make its first foray into theaters in February with Sony's "Bloodshot," directed by Dave Wilson and starring Vin Diesel as an enhanced soldier resurrected from the dead. Beyond that, there are other Valiant projects scattered around different studios.
Here's a rundown:
- Paramount Pictures recently acquired the film rights to "Harbinger," Mintz confirmed to Business Insider. (The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news last week.) The comic follows a group of young individuals known as Harbingers who possess psychic and telekinetic powers. While "Harbinger" and "Bloodshot" will be at separate studios, the connective tissue is the producer Neal Moritz, known for the "Fast and Furious" franchise (Mintz is also producting both movies).
- "Faith," about a groundbreaking plus-size superhero, is also in development at Sony.
- A "Quantum and Woody" TV series, about crime-fighting adopted siblings known as "the world's worst superhero team," is in the works at TBS from the producers Joe and Anthony Russo, the "Avengers: Endgame" directors.
- A "Doctor Mirage" series, about a paranormal investigator searching for her dead husband, is being set up at The CW.
"Seeing these characters on screen is significant and fulfilling the wish of a lot of fans, that's No. 1," Mintz said. "No. 2, it's a great way to enter the universe."
Before "Iron Man" kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008, Marvel's characters were similarly scattered across Hollywood.
Sony owns the film rights to "Spider-Man." 2003's "Hulk" movie was under Universal. Before this year's Disney-Fox merger, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four belonged to Fox. Even the first few MCU movies before "The Avengers" — from "Iron Man" to "Captain America: The First Avenger" — were distributed by Paramount.
"Right now, these are great characters to introduce fans around the world to the uniqueness of Valiant," Mintz said.
Mintz actually has some experience with the MCU: DMG Entertainment coproduced "Iron Man 3." Mintz said it helped prepare him to usher Valiant into the world of Hollywood and eventually build a connected universe of movies.
"There's no better of an inside experience than to make those films with them and see that process," Mintz said. "With 'Iron Man 3,' what was very apparent from the beginning was that Iron Man was the key figure in the Marvel universe. You needed to protect that and understand the character as he's seen in individual movies and in other films, and how that character is developed and protected through that process."
"It was a little scary because I didn't want to be on the film that killed Iron Man," he added with a laugh. "It worked out, but you look back at Marvel and you think, it wasn't a given."
'We're a comic company first'
Mintz described comic books as the "anchors of pop culture" and said studios were growing more aware of that.
"Marvel and DC have built the comic-book superhighway," Mintz said. "That visual vocabulary has been established. We're finding our voice within that. There's a defined lane for what we can do. But it takes time. Nothing happens overnight. So one of the things we're focused on is how we roll out the universe, how we develop and sharpen differentiation in storytelling, and how we bring you into the Valiant world."
Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, Valiant fights tooth and nail on the publishing side to make a name for itself among much bigger publishers like Marvel and DC, and now it will be trying to grab Hollywood's attention on top of that.
"Hollywood loves our industry because a comic book is already a storyboard," Valiant's publisher, Fred Pierce, told Business Insider. "Our world dominates the movie world today. But we're a comic-book company first. We know in the back of our minds that we want to create movies and TV, but we'll be successful if we're a comic company first and then take off."
In the comic industry, the 100 bestselling comics at any time are dominated by Marvel and DC, according to Pierce. Valiant is in a "weight class" of "non-premier publishers," so success is measured differently. But Pierce said that six Valiant titles had still managed to crack the top 100 since November and that sales were up 10% over last year.
"We put out much less content than other publishers," Pierce said. "DC and Marvel put out over 100 comics a month. We put out six or seven a month. But all the comic stores know our six or seven. The adamant comic fans know them. Our goal is to make sure we are the thing that shines at you when you're in a comic store."
One of those comics debuts next Wednesday: a new "Bloodshot" ongoing series, from the writer Tim Seeley and the artist Brett Booth, the first story arc of which will wrap up just in time for the release of the "Bloodshot" movie.
As the first film adaptation of a Valiant property, "Bloodshot" has high expectations, and nobody is raising them quite as high as the star, Diesel. The actor told ComicBook.com in October that "Sony is finally going to lead the charge in the superhero movies of the future" and on Instagram in January, he declared, "Let the Valiant era begin."
"Bloodshot" — and the potential Valiant era — hits theaters on February 21.
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