Mitchell Hundred is the mayor of New York City in the early 21st Century. It’s a New York City where one of the Twin Towers still stands, in a world where there has ever only been one superhero. And that hero? The Great Machine, who was none other than Mayor Mitchell Hundred before hanging up his jetpack and getting into politics. This is the basic premise of Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris’ Ex Machina, published by DC Comics between 2004 and 2010. The book spent considerably less time on superheroics than it did on Hundred’s time as mayor in an alternate recent history, and it’s not talked about nearly enough in the pantheon of great comics work of the 21st century so far. That should change, because Legendary Entertainment is turning Ex Machina into a movie, under the title The Great Machine.
And for a project that was only announced last week, The Great Machine has already attracted significant star power. Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Rise of…oh, you know who he is) will play Mitchell Hundred (via THR), which is some extraordinarily perfect casting. Isaac will also serve as producer alongside Jason Spire. Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel (who wrote the Kristen Stewart starring Jean Seberg biopic Seberg) will write the screenplay and there’s no director yet attached. Legendary has a development deal with co-creator Vaughan, though, and hopefully he’ll have some oversight as one of his coolest creations is brought to the screen.
Why the title change from Ex Machina to The Great Machine? Well, we can’t have anyone confusing the political adventures of Mayor Hundred with Alex Garland’s brilliant 2015 sci-fi movie of the same name, right? And funny enough, Isaac starred in Garland’s Ex Machina, which of course has nothing whatsoever to do with the story of Mitchell Hundred.
The basics that you need to know is that in 1999 Mitchell Hundred finds himself changed after he’s caught in an explosion generated by a mysterious device, and he realizes he can “talk” to machines. He builds himself some crimefighting gear and gets to superheroing as The Great Machine, before revealing his identity to the public and running for mayor of New York City in 2001. But Hundred comes out of retirement as The Great Machine to stop the 2nd plane from hitting the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. He’s elected mayor that November, and the book primarily chronicles those four years in office (with plenty of flashbacks to his superhero career). If it were up to me, this would be a TV series, but hey, what do I know, right?
The Hollywood Reporter first reported this news, with a reminder that Hollywood has been trying to adapt Ex Machina (I had better get used to calling this The Great Machine) since 2005. Cale Boyter was overseeing the project at New Line from 2005-2012, and Boyter is now at Legendary. Vaughan and Harris reacquired the rights to the book in 2012, and it’s now part of Vaughan’s development deal with Legendary. THR also says the movie’s story “will revolve around Hundred dealing with a threatened political career when the source of his powers returns to claim its debt.”
There’s no release date set, so it’s likely to be some time before we see The Great Machine. We’ll update this as more information becomes available.
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