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TRAILER: Preacher

Written by Jason Wittmer

Yup, it’s actually happening.

An adaptation of Garth Ennis‘ Preacher has been stuck in development hell for nearly twenty years. The incredibly controversial comic ran for 75 issues from 1995 through 2000, though it has maintained a cult status ever since. From its sardonic tone, its penchant for absurdist humor, and – above all else – its memorable characters, the Preacher series is often considered one of the best comics of all time. The comic had been rumored to be adapted as a film in years past, yet with comic book TV shows becoming ever more popular, the series has found new life on AMC, the network which has ushered The Walking Dead adaptation to resounding success.

Coming from the minds of Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg, we’ve previously discussed our hopes and reservations for the upcoming series. Last night, however, we finally got our first taste of what the show will actually look like. During an episode of The Walking Dead, the first footage from Preacher made its much-anticipated debut.

So, how does it look? Well, as a fan of the comic, I’d argue that there’s both some good and bad takeaways from the trailer.

First off, the trailer focuses heavily on the titular preacher, Jesse Custer. For those unfamiliar with the source material, this is not your grandfather’s preacher. Jesse is a beer-guzzling, ass-kicking, deeply-flawed man. Though he helps others atone for their sins, he is by no means free from sin himself. The comic does a great job in exploring his history and showing why Jesse is such a uniquely tragic protagonist, one whom you still root for despite his seemingly contradictory nature.

Now, as for Dominic Cooper in the role, I’m still not completely sold on him. I think we can all agree that we were glad to have an actor with a bit of credibility step into Jesse’s shoes, but he still doesn’t look like the character I remember from the comics. It’s possible I’m being overly critical, but Cooper seems a bit too good-looking for the part, and I’m sorely missing the wilder, messy hair that Jesse sports in the comics. The best comic book adaptations, however, always interpret the original material and adapt it for film or TV in different, unexpected ways. Cooper does a good job with a southern accent (another English actor with a southern drawl on AMC, alongside Andrew Lincoln‘s Rick Grimes), so I’m still holding out hope that he’ll make a good Preacher.

We also got a look at Joe Gilgun‘s take on Jesse’s best friend/resident vampire, Cassidy. It’s still quite a shock to see an actor utter the trademark “Jaysis” that the Irish vampire had become famous for, once again reminding us how incredible it is that we’re actually going to see a live-action Preacher in some shape or form. As for how Cassidy looks, I’ll admit that I’m not quite impressed. Though Cassidy was certainly used as a form of comic relief throughout the books, he’s also a deeply flawed character with a ton of baggage. He makes a ton of poor choices, but not without a few moments of self-sacrifice sprinkled throughout. Cassidy, if nothing else, is a badass. Plain and simple. In the books, he looks like a washed-up rockstar whose always one bad day away from a mental breakdown. In the little glimpse we had here of Gilgun, I hope this isn’t disrespectful toward the actor, but he looks way too goofy. I truly hope that Rogen, Goldberg, and showrunner Sam Catlin have not forgotten that Cassidy is not just a jokester who can lighten up the (often dark) mood, but also a savage punk who should not be taken lightly.

As far as the rest of the trailer, I think it shows some promise. On AMC, the writers won’t have to hold back much on the over-the-top violence that is ingrained in the DNA of the comics. Jesse Custer is known to kick some ass and break some bones, so seeing a glimpse of that in the trailer is really neat to see. We also saw a bit of Ruth Negga as Tulip, a character whose quite comfortable with her finger on the trigger.

Altogether, my biggest issues with the trailer are not with what exactly they showed, but what they didn’t show. The Killer of Saints is, in my opinion, one of the most compelling and interesting characters to ever appear in comics. There’s still no actor cast in his part, and I’m starting to worry that he may not appear until later in the series. He is, in many ways, at the same time both a protagonist and antagonist throughout the series, so it’d be a big mistake not to have him appear from the start.

Also, those who see the trailer but are unfamiliar with the comic will likely have no idea that there are a TON of supernatural elements to the story. Though it’s quite possible they are still working on special-effects, or would like to hold off on it until the series is closer to air, I would have liked to a glimpse of Genesis, the ethereal being who imbues Jesse with the “word of God.” Even just a peak at an angel would have been nice.

AMC has had some major successes in recent years, so the Preacher adaptation is surely in good hands. As a huge fan of the comic, I’m so happy that there’s actual footage to be seen that I’m using it as an opportunity to single out everything I would have done differently. This, of course, is one of the major components of what I like to call “fanboy-ism.” Some viewers probably loved every second of the trailer, and I’m glad that they did. Not every comic book adaptation is good, so I’m hedging my bet a bit in case the Preacher series isn’t a successful one. In any case, I think we can all agree that we’re now even more excited to see this action-packed, genre-bending series once it finally debuts in 2016.

Lastly, if you’ve never read Preacher, stop what you’re doing and get on it! It’s not for everybody. I repeat, it is not for everybody. But, if you want to read a comic that has nothing do with superheroes, Preacher calls back to Western movies from the ’50s and ’60s, as Jesse Custer embarks on a spiritual journey throughout America, complete with plenty of thrills and a heavy dose of absurd humor that will probably give your grandmother a heart attack.

What did you think of the Preacher trailer? Did you like Dominic Cooper in the title role more than I did? Are you excited for the series? Let us know what you thought in the comments, or send us a tweet on Twitter!

About the author

Jason Wittmer