The Walking Dead star Jeffery Dean Morgan hopes the "Here’s Negan” comic book storyline can be transformed into a standalone film.
Indeed, AMC's ambitious plan for the franchise reportedly includes for expanding well beyond The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead to include several movies, which would then spin off into multiple series.
More than four years after the 2012 introduction of Negan in the comic series, writer Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard delved into his backstory with a 16-issue arc, to before the apocalypse, and his life as a gym teacher, semi-happily married to his wife Lucille. He exhibits the same questionable methods of relating to students that we saw in his dealings with Carl, and copes with the tragic loss of his wife to cancer. As detailed in the episode "The Big Scary U," during his conversation with Father Gabriel, Negan essentially misses the apocalypse, as he watches Lucille succumb to the disease and cannot bring himself to end her life once she returns as a walker. He finally leaves her side, and the rest of the story details how he made his way from wanderer to leader of the Saviors.
It’s a story fans have looked forward to seeing adapted, and during CBR's recent visit to the show's set Senoia, Georgia, Morgan expressed his own desire to bring "Here's Negan" to life.
"I hope," he said. "For two years I've talked to [former showrunner Scott] Gimple about it. I certainly hope. I know that they've talked about doing all sorts of other things, movies, whatever else. I don't know too much about it. I know enough that it could be an exciting opportunity to tell that story."
While Morgan’s desire to make the film is a long way from actually getting it greenlit, “Here’s Negan” would make for a compelling story. Despite many fans growing weary of his interminable battle with Rick during Season 8's "All Out War," Negan remains an incredibly popular character. "The Big Scary U," during which he spends the entire episode trapped in a trailer with Gabriel, was easily one of the season’s best. And as Morgan has no plans to leave The Walking Dead any time soon, adapting his backstory into a film would go a long way toward humanizing one of the series’ most notorious villains.
Although no amount of backstory will ever really redeem the man who beat to death Glenn and Abraham, and used murder and intimidation to govern his communities, Negan is at his best when the show allows his humanity to seep through. And considering he'll be down a nemesis after the first half of Season 9, that humanity will become more important the longer he stays on the show.
One of the more interesting aspects of "Here’s Negan" is the parallels between his story and Rick’s. Both men miss the onset of the apocalypse while stuck in hospitals, although for different reasons, and emerge only to discover that the world has ended around them. From that point on, we watch as Negan’s experiences help shape the leader he became. just as Rick’s did. If Negan is going to remain on The Walking Dead without his counterpart and verbal sparring partner to balance his story, “Here’s Negan” could go a long way toward extending the life of a character who’ll need to find a new purpose once Rick’s no longer around to give his story meaning.
The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The series returns for its ninth season Sunday, Oct. 7, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.