Comic book movies and franchises are everywhere these days, with plenty of folks trying to present their own take on the genre. But Netflix's latest blockbuster Project Power, however, is part of a different kind of action movie, in that it not only tries to cast superheroes in a different, often grittier light, but also in that Project Power is not actually based on a comic book franchise.
As Mattson Tomlin, Project Power's screenwriter, explained to Forbes, "I started to think in terms of, ‘What’s a movie that I would really want to see? Not necessarily what I’m dying to write as a personal piece, but what are the genres that are really working right now?" The co-writer of the upcoming Robert Pattinson starring Batman continued, "I love superhero films and I love superpowers and I love comic books, so that felt like a place that I wanted to start." In starting from comic books but wanting an original story, Project Power manages to stand apart from other superhero flicks, while still remaining true to the genre.
Art (Jamie Foxx), a retired soldier, goes off in search of his daughter after she's kidnapped by a mysterious cartel that deals in drugs. But they don't push recreational drugs — they deal in a special pill that's supposed to unlock a special superpower, which is unique to each individual user. Ice powers, fire powers, super strength, bulletproof skin; it's all there, and it's entirely a mystery as to which power any given user will get — that is, until they take the pill.
It being an original concept hasn't stopped critics from drawing comparisons to other comic book or action flicks, however. Some titles that have come up include 2008's Taken (given the shared premise of a father searching for his daughter), 2011's Limitless (drugs and superpowers), and even one more cult classic, gritty, "anti-superhero" film: 2009's Watchmen, which is an adaptation of the 1986 comic book, Watchmen, created by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins.
And so far Tomlin's gamble has paid off. As of press time, Project Power is the number one most popular film on Netflix in the United States, according to the streaming platform. So while Project Power might not be based on a comic book saga — it may just give birth to its own.