New Line Cinema had been planning a film iteration of the acclaimed Vertigo series Y: The Last Man for several years. Disturbia director D.J. Caruso and screenwriter Carl Ellsworth were planning to unite for the big screen adaptation, which was set to be produced by Man of Steel scribe David S. Goyer. Eventually, however, this incarnation fell apart. But in 2012, New Line hired a new team of writers to take another crack at the graphic novel, and it hired short film director Dan Trachtenberg to helm the project a year later. Since then, we’ve heard very little beyond the news that production would have to start soon or the film rights would revert. And it turns out that’s exactly what happened.
Speaking with /Film, Trachtenberg confirmed that the film rights for Y: The Last Man have reverted back to creators Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. This definitively cancels New Line’s long in-development adaptation. “The rights reverted back to Brian quite a few months ago. I had such a great time working on that project and am truly sad the things we were cooking up can no longer happen.” He then admits that the comic would probably benefit more from a television series if a live action iteration had to happen. “Like everyone else who’s a fan of the series I had always wished it either remain in its comic book form. Or, if it must be made, a TV series would be the only thing that would suffice. However, the “big screen” and the “small screen” has changed drastically since Y came out and I think so much of the great TV in our current “golden age” has been directly or indirectly inspired by Y the Last Man. I started getting excited about bringing to the BIG screen what we’ve been getting in TV so readily now— great characters, RELATIONSHIPS, world building and genre re-combination.”
Trachtenberg then calls his adaptation an “adventure movie” focused on the characters amidst the action. He adds, “We were in many ways quite faithful to the comic, though some characters were combined and some events re-arranged and some brief moments of action we dug into to create bigger action/adventure sequences. The script was essentially the first two trades.” He cites Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Raiders of the Lost Ark, among other movies, as influences. He concludes, “In the end, working with all the producers and the writers was a great experience. And getting to meet Brian, who has been such an inspiration to me over the years was incredible. He’s as great a person as he is a writer. And now Y the Last Man is back where it should be, with its creator.”
While this will surely disappoint fans who hoped to see Y: The Last Man on the big screen, there has also been a vocal group who did not believe a film would do the novel justice. Time will tell if we will ever get a live action adaptation.