DMZ Is Coming to HBO Max Courtesy of Ava DuVernay

Ava DuVernay on the set of Selma.
Photo: Paramount

Warner Bros. is digging deeper into its DC properties and bringing another popular comic book to life. The company has ordered a pilot for DMZ, based on the 2005 Vertigo title by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, for its upcoming streaming service HBO Max. And it’s recruited one of its feature film directors to help out: Ava DuVernay.

DuVernay, who is attached to make New Gods for DC, will direct the pilot and Roberto Patino will show run and executive produce. He’s best known for his work on Westworld and Sons of Anarchy. Deadline broke the news. This isn’t the first time Hollywood has tried to make this TV show happen, however. Through Warner Bros. TV, the title was previously set to be adapted at Syfy in 2014. Harry Potter producer David Heyman was also attached at the time but it never came to fruition.

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DMZ is set in an unspecified near future where the United States is in a Civil War. This adaptation will follow a medic in the demilitarized zone of Manhattan (hence D-M-Z) as she traverses the political and military landscapes, while also keeping an eye out for her missing son. It’s a good balance of dramatic, real-world themes in a sci-fi, comic book world.

DMZ is a special project to me as it marks a key collaboration with my company ARRAY Filmworks, the excellent team at Warner Bros TV and the dynamo Roberto Patino,” DuVernay said to Deadline. “We’ve all worked diligently on this material and I’ve witnessed Roberto in action. He’s insanely talented and cares about telling stories with maximum impact and imagination. I’m eager to share this one with DC fans.”

Despite the comic’s critical and commercial success, the asterisk with the project is the co-creator, Wood. Wood has been accused of sexual misconduct publicly multiple times, most recently just a few weeks ago, and at least one company very quickly cut ties with him. For one of his comics to get such a prestigious adaptation so soon after an allegation is...disappointing to say the least. Projects like this take much longer than that to come together of course, so one imagines Warner Bros. may not have been aware of the most recent allegation at the time. There’s also every chance he’s not as involved as other comic creators have been with their projects. But he’s still likely to get paid, and considering DMZ’s story will be about a strong woman, and the pilot will be directed by another one, there’s still a certain cloud over it. We’ve reached out to Warner Bros. and will update should we hear back.

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Nevertheless, there’s lots of potential here and we’ll be watching to see how it turns out. Filming is expected to happen early next year.

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Germain Lussier

Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo