Blumhouse is bringing another Academy Award winner onto its roster. According to Deadline, writer and director John Ridley will be adapting his 2017 Vertigo comic The American Way: Those Above and Those Below for the genre-picture house. Ridley has a long Hollywood resumé, having written and produced movies like Ben-Hur, Three Kings, U-Turn, and 12 Years A Slave, for which he won his Oscar. He’s also done a fair amount of work in television, serving as writer, producer, and director for shows like Barbershop, American Crime, and Guerilla. The American Way is the story of a black superhero called the New American who fights to protect communities in 1970s America.
Ridley wrote the comic, which was done with artist Georges Jeanty, and it is a sequel to the graphic novel the two created in 2007 called The American Way. Those Above and Those Below is a mini-series follow-up to that novel, and it takes place in the decade after the first story, which centered on a superhero task force assembled out of mostly non-super people to serve as a propaganda tool for the U.S. government during the Cold War. A catastrophe lead to that team’s eventual dissolution, but Those Above picks up the story of the truly super-strong New American — a former member of that government team — as the country tries to navigate the tumultuous 1970s.
The Blumhouse business model is built on giving creators a lot of control to execute “high-cost, low-budget” projects, and even though superheroes are synonymous with massive costs, studio head Jason Blum said in an interview with Vulture last year that he would readily wade into the super genre — provided he could do it on the cheap. “As long as it’s inexpensive,” said Blum, whose company distributed the superhero-lite movie Sleight from last year. “I’m much more inclined to do movies that are outside of scary, as long as they are inexpensive.”