Ed Brubaker to Adapt, David Slade Set to Direct "Criminal" Movie

Ed Brubaker is set to adapt "Coward," the first arc of his and Sean Phillips' Eisner Award-winning comic "Criminal," for Hunting Lane Films, Variety reports. David Slade ("30 Days of Night," "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse") is attached to direct.

Debuting through Marvel's Icon imprint in 2008, "Criminal" is modern crime noir, with each self-contained story arc focusing on characters who share a common history. "Coward" centers on Leo, a master thief who reluctantly agrees to work an armored-car heist only to be double-crossed and forced to hide from crooked cops and a drug kingpin. Subsequent published arcs are "Lawless," "The Dead and the Dying," "Bad Night" and "Criminal -- The Sinners."

"'Coward' was just a great modern story," Slade, who's also set to helm "Daredevil" for Fox, told Variety. "It harkens back to an era of crime stories where there's really a gritty reality to it, but there's a kind of underworld haze of noir. It's not like we have to reinvent the material, to figure it out, because it already works."

Brubaker, who's won three Eisner Awards for best writer, is already turning his mind to casting, telling the trade paper, "If Ryan Gosling hadn't already been in 'Drive,' he'd be perfect (for the role of Leo). It's a good role for any actor; about a guy who's afraid to do things because of what's inside of him. It's a heist story, partly -- it's a lot of different crime stories wrapped in one, but heist stories are always exciting if they're pulled off correctly."

Jamie Patricof will produce "Coward" for Hunting Lane Films, the studio behind 2006's "Half Nelson" and 2010's "Blue Valentine" -- both of which starred Ryan Gosling. Nick Meyer's Sierra/Affinity will finance the movie and handle international sales.

Brubaker and frequent collaborator Phillips optioned their superhero noir miniseries "Incognito" to Fox in April 2010.

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