Writer, Director, Producer Adi Shankar (Castlevania, Judge Dredd: Superfiend) returns to Netflix next month with his take on the superhero team-up Guardians of Justice. This week he shared some exclusive artwork with me for the show. Part noir murder mystery, part superhero cautionary tale, the seven-episode series is a fierce 80’s synth love letter to grindhouse, gaming, and animation. Throwing almost every superhero trope on its neck and beating it into submission with a tricked-out Gameboy, Shankar is bringing a taste of his Bootleg Universe to Netflix.
For the uninitiated, the Bootleg Universe features a limited library of fan films entirely funded, produced, and often directed by Shankar himself. Equally gritty as they are violent, mainstream actors cast in gritty action roles with 90’s special effects give the BU its signature look. Punisher: Dirty Laundry starring original Punisher (2004) actor Thomas Jane, Katee Sackhoff’s (Battlestar Galactica, The Mandalorian) turn as the Pink Ranger in the dark Power Rangers/Unauthorized and Shankar’s fictional documentary short Mr. Rogers/War Hero is fandom legend. The casting, action, and Shankar’s uncanny ability to tap into fandom through his work are what got Hollywood’s attention landing him projects like Judge Dredd: Superfiend and Castlevania.
Fans of Kung Fury, 1995’s Mortal Kombat, and the 80’s synth sci-fi musical Blood Machines will love The Guardians of Justice for its genre-blending storytelling and mix of over eight types of 2D animation and fight scenes pulled straight out of a Final Fight 8-bit videogame.
The official The Guardians of Justice premise:
The alien superhero MARVELOUS MAN has kept the earth at peace for 40 years. But when a devastating secret and its tragic consequences throw our world into chaos, it’s up to Marvelous Man’s bitter, violent lieutenant KNIGHT HAWK and idealistic do-gooder THE SPEED to stop nuclear war. A dark satire of the superhero genre, The Guardians of Justice mixes live-action with traditional animation, claymation, cut-out paper animation, and 8-bit video game footage in a kaleidoscope of pop art insanity.
The Guardians of Justice Casting highlights include Will Yun Lee (Altered Carbon) as Marvelous Man, Denise Richards (The Bold and the Beautiful) as his wife Laura Lang, and legendary wrestler Diamond Dallas Page as his “Number One” Knight Hawk. In addition, Christopher Judge (God of War, Stargate: SG-1) appears as problematic President Nicholas E. Nukem, along with Sharni Vinson (You’re Next) as The Speed, Hal Ozan (The Black List) as journalist Van Dawson, and Jayne Seymour (The Kominsky Method) as the deliciously evil Addison Walker.
Shankar, who is currently working on Captain Laserhawk with adult animation studio Bobby Pills, and co-directed and co-wrote The Guardians of Justice with Stewart Yost, Luis Pelayo Junquera, Enol Junquera, and Kenlon Clark.