Van Lente likes the Posse Circling "Cowboys & Aliens"

With yesterday's news that über-hot comics-to-film star Robert Downey, Jr. may just follow-up "Iron Man" by saddling up in the upcoming DreamWorks/Universal co-production of "Cowboys & Aliens," CBR News checked in with one of the co-writers of the original graphic novel, Fred Van Lente ("Incredible Hercules") to see what he thinks about Tony Stark playing his leading man, Zeke Jackson.

"I think it's perfect," Van Lente told CBR News. "Zeke was always supposed to be this devil-may-care wise-ass. If I remember correctly, I was originally thinking Owen Wilson, but Robert would do a terrific job."

"Cowboys & Aliens," illustrated by Luciano Lima and Magic Eye Studios and released in 2006 by Platinum Studios, is set in the American Old West, but the titular camps have to put aside their differences and unite against a common threat when a saucer full of conquest-minded aliens crash-lands in their midst.

With plans for the title as a possible 2010 tentpole project produced by heavyweights including Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Platinum Studios chairman and CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg along with and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci ("Transformers," "Star Trek"), Van Lente said "Cowboys & Aliens" was always intended to be movie. "In fact, I believe it was sold as a movie prior to me coming on board. It was one of my first-ever paid writing gigs," recalled Van Lente. "It's particularly vivid time in my life because I was writing it the same time I was getting married. So it was quite a scramble, trying to prepare for the wedding and research the book at the same time and all that. I turned in the first draft of the script a few days before the wedding itself. My wife and I are celebrating our seventh anniversary in May, just to give you idea of how long ago this was."

As for the names already attached to the project, Van Lente continued, "It's really exciting. It's a great move they picked it up. It's such a fun, genre-bending property, a perfect summer tent pole type picture."

Van Lente confirmed Platinum's Rosenberg conceived the original concept for "Cowboys & Aliens." Before establishing Platinum Studios, Rosenberg led Malibu Comics, which successfully turned Lowell Cunningham's "Men in Black" comic book series into a billion-dollar property. "He and Platinum came to me with a few of the characters fleshed out, and my contribution was to come up with a story that tied all these elements together. I also tried to flesh out the Native American characters," said Van Lente. "It was really quite an honor that Scott and Platinum entrusted me, who was a pretty untried writer at the time, with one of their flagship properties."

Van Lente doesn't consider himself a civil war buff but does love writing Westerns. "I'm more of a Colonial/Revolutionary War guy," said the writer. "Johnny Timmons is currently illustrating a story of mine that will appear in Image's 'Outlaw Territory' collection and I contributed a story to Marvel's Western event in 2006."

For more from the mind of rising star Fred Van Lente ("Wolverine: First Class," "Comic Book Comics"), visit http://www.fredvanlente.com. "Cowboys & Aliens" can be read for free at Drunk Duck.

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