'Cowboy Ninja Viking' could be the greatest Chris Pratt movie never made as it stays in production limbo
Universal's adaptation of Image Comics graphic novel 'Cowboy Ninja Viking' was supposed to release on June 28 but the potentially epic movie has been put on hold indefinitely
'Cowboy Ninja Viking' was scheduled for release on June 28, 2019. The movie, which starred Chris Pratt and Priyanka Chopra in the lead roles, was reportedly pulled due to problems with the script and production schedule. Despite Universal saying that the movie is still in "active development", chances are that what could have been an amazing film will never see the light of day.
The movie was planned as an adaptation of the Image Comics title of the same name. 'Cowboy Ninja Viking' features a covert government agency called the Triplet Program led by a psychotherapist named Dr. Ghislain who specializes in taking patients with multiple personality disorders and turning them into trained killers with three distinct personalities. After the program falls apart, many of the triplets find new work as hired mercenaries, forcing Dr. Ghislain to seek the help of Duncan, a triplet with the personalities of (you guessed it) a cowboy, a ninja, and a Viking, to hunt them down.
The comic book, created by writer AJ Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo, was a cool and wacky comedy/thriller that could give 'Deadpool' a run for its money. Seeing the story on the big screen would have been an exciting proposition, especially considering how perfect the casting has been so far.
Chris Pratt was cast in the lead role as Duncan back in 2014. At the time, the actor had just captured the limelight with his performance as Peter Quill/Star-lord in the first 'Guardians of the Galaxy' movie so fans were overjoyed to hear about his new project. Pratt himself has been quite hyped for the movie, tweeting about how it is "a passion project".
"I am beyond excited for this! #CNV is a passion project for both of us. And I promise you... this film is going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen. IT WILL BLOW YOU AWAY," tweeted Chris Pratt at that time.
Four years later, in 2018, Priyanka Chopra was cast as the female lead, Sara Nix. Nix is a psychologist and the protege of Dr. Ghislain. The film would have featured Chopra’s character traveling the world and hunting down rogue agents with Pratt’s Duncan.
While casting for the movie was pretty spot on, other areas of production did not run as smoothly. 'Cowboy Ninja Viking' went through a number of writers and directors. The film rights were originally owned by Disney who hired Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese of 'Zombieland' fame to pen the film's screenplay. Disney subsequently dropped the film, allowing Universal to acquire the rights in 2012. They in turn hired 'World War Z' director Marc Forster to direct and Craig Mazin ('Chernobyl') to write the script.
By 2015, Forster had left the project and 'John Wick' directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski were in early talks to replace him. Finally, Michelle MacLaren ('Breaking Bad') was confirmed as the director of the film in 2018 with Dan Mazeau ('Wrath of the Titans') and Ryan Engle ('Rampage') working on the screenplay.
The film was scheduled for release on June 28, 2019, and filming was supposed to begin in July 2018. Production has been stalled ever since because in August 2018 Universal announced that the movie would be pulled back from the schedule. It hasn’t been officially canceled yet but Universal has not announced a new release date for the film.
Universal has maintained that the movie is still in active development and Pratt has expressed keen interest in the project. It would be a real shame if the movie really did end up never being made, not just because the role is perfect for Pratt but also because of the sheer amount of depth that has gone into creating these characters. The first volume of the graphic novel introduces a person who is an Amish/demo expert/army captain, another who is a pirate/gladiator/oceanographer, and Duncan’s ex-wife Grear, a sniper/chef/martial artist.
With an excellent cast, a wacky concept, and an acclaimed director, 'Cowboy Ninja Viking' would be a genuine triple threat (pun intended), if it ever does get made, that is.