SPOILERS AHOY! As AMC’s Preacher televisual adaptation is announced, we count down 10 problem characters that might get curtailed
Just over a week ago we learned that AMC and Sony Pictures Television had agreed a deal to bring Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s seminal 90s comic Preacher to the small screen, and it got us a bit excited – but also reticent. Whilst television has come a long way in the past few decades – to the point where shows like Rome, Spartacus: Blood and Sand and of course Game Of Thrones are averse to showing us a flailing dong, or perhaps a nice fetus-shanking, there are still rules, and a property like Preacher is GOING TO CAUSE PROBLEMS.
You see, Garth Ennis has a mind quite unlike any other – or at least any other working in the industry. Flick through any copy of Preacher, or The Boys, or Crossed, or his run on Punisher, and you’ll find sex, swearing and ultraviolence by the bucketload. He’s not afraid to shock, and the absurdity of it all is a big part of the fun.
As such, there are going to be more than a few hurdles to overcome, and in particular a few characters we’re worried are going to be rejigged, hamstrung, or downright cut in order to make it suitable for broadcast. Here’s ten we forsee getting a bit of ‘treatment’:
No, but there might be Cass
Of the three principle ‘good guys’, the only one we see being tethered ever so slightly is hard-drinking Irishman and general ne’er-do-well Proinsias Cassidy. Custer is basically a perfect lead character if ever there was one – a deft mix of James Dean and John Wayne – and Tulip is feisty as fuck and good in a tight spot…but Cassidy represents a few problems because of what he is.
You see, Cassidy is a vampire. Not the sparkly, emotionally angst-ridden twat of the Twilight generation, but all the best bits of bloodsucking psychopath and carefree Irish madman. He’s close to 100 years old in the book, and is able to regenerate from heinous wounds by chowing down on the good old red stuff, so you can imagine he gets away with quite a lot of self destructiveness.
Aside from the heavy drinking, he has a pretty dark past. Violence, murder and drugs play their part, and he eventually gets so bad that he tries to drink his girlfriend’s blood just for a hit of heroin.
There are consequences then, but it’s mostly in a flashback, and he by the time Tulip and Jesse meet him, he’s the spirited, witty scamp we all love.
This isn’t a major one, but we think there’s certainly some things that might be missing from his checkered story for sure.
9: Odin Quincannon
Odin Quincannon, one of the series’ lesser antagonists, appears later in the tale, from issue 41 onwards, where Jesse ends up in a town called Salvation. Quincannon owns the local meat processing plant, and as a result is both rich and scummy, and uses his money to gain power and influence. He has the sheriff bought off, but Jesse eventually becomes the sheriff, and so the two are at odds.
There are two facets to how difficult Odin Quincannon is going to be to pull off fully: he’s incredibly racist, and he’s incredibly perverted. The first one manifests itself particularly in how he addresses Jesse’s deputy Cindy, a black woman. He’s a right derogatory bastard, and involved with the local KKK chapter amongst other things.
Racists are nothing new on television, but it’s pretty flagrant stuff. He’s not a nice man, but a bit later on in the arc, you find out he’s also a bit icky. Dominatrix ubermensch assistant aside (because who doesn’t like a bit of slap and tickle?), we’re teased with a giant secret that Odin keeps hidden in a big meatlocker – a secret that is finally revealed when he crawls back there on his last legs, to be found naked and old-man-balls deep in a giant woman puppet made of meat. She’s even got hair and lipstick. It’s…like, each to their own and all, and it’s hilarious, but are AMC really going to include this little detail? It’s basically superfluous to the story, and is a character detail at most. This is exactly what Preacher is about, of course – taking that extra step into obscenity – but I can pretty much see them going “well, the racism’s probably enough if we’re going to do anything; let’s save the budget for Jesse’s voice or something, okay?”
We may well be surprised here – and it’d be an iconic moment – but whilst there are way more debauched things to crop up, we have a feeling this one might be glossed over.
8: Herr Starr
Not well done, Hoover, you incompetent fool
Herr Starr, one of the series’ main antagonists (alongside God and The Saint Of Killers) is one unlucky son of a bitch. One of shadowy religious organisation The Grail’s principle mover and shakers, he is ruthlessly efficient and an unequivocal bastard. But unlike the other two, who are essentially untouchable by anyone except Jesse, Herr Starr falls foul of everyone from cannibalistic hillbillies to a vicious attack dog.
One of the funnier (but still messed up) things to happen to him occurs right after we meet him is his introduction to the business end of rough sodomy. His fetish for sordid, vigourous sex is unparalleled, but when one of his lackies, inexperienced in such matters, hires him two male (rather than female) ‘companions’, he is horrified – and then can’t get off to anything but the receiving end of a well-endowed strap-on.
Sexual deviancy on his scale isn’t something often seen on prime-time television. Tender, romantic sex? Sure. Passionate but entirely consensual humping in the rain? Definitely! But his brand of debauchery is something else, and it only gets more intense after he meets a certain pair of sexual deviants. There are rules for this kind of thing, damnit – we can’t possibly let Seth Rogen and co. have any fun with this! There must be a lesson to be learned!
Then again, those who lose their virginity on-screen – anal or more traditional – outside of wedlock often suffer the consequences, and oh boy does Starr suffer some consequences. Which in turn makes things more difficult for him, and progressively more depraved. Oh dear.
7: Bob Glover and Freddy Allen; Sexual Investigators
It’s 24/7 with these guys
Speaking of Herr Starr and sodomy, meet Bob Glover and Freddy Allen; the men who put the scary German to the sword. Figuratively. They bummed him, is what I’m trying to say.
Bob travelled from deepest conservative Yorkshire to the heights of the Big Apple, spending over two decades selling himself until he could realise his dream of being a ‘sexual investigator.’ What exactly that means is unclear – we’re not sure it would come up on one of those high school aptitude/what should I do with my life tests – but it seems to involve drug running, missing persons, escort services, and other sex-related work.
And it’s this that will probably be the main problem for these two: it’s the sexual deviancy thing again. What’s the point of it? None at all. Not to the story, anyway. They’re part of the very fabric of the the Preacher universe, but it’s a fabric that is entirely incidental. They’re minor characters at best anyway, and so their motivations and M.O. aren’t nearly as important as some of the other characters on this list.
I mean fuck, really?
One of the first things that truly hooked me on Preacher was the arc where you discover exactly why Jesse upped and disappeared on Tulip years previously. You discover his horrific heritage: his ancient, decrepit grandmother Marie L’Angelle; a putrid mix of fire-and-brimstone Christianity and unbearable cruelty. She’s a god-tier villainous character, and has the potential to inspire Joffrey Baratheon-levels of collective hate from TV audiences – but as she is old and wheelchair-bound, she has a couple of ‘assistants’ – two men from outside the family, but completely loyal to the old harpy.
The two – Jody and T.C. – are the worst mix of every bad stereotype of America’s deep south. Whilst Jody is a gun-toting, hard-as-nails badass, his cohort T.C. spans the redneck side of things; he’s backwards, bucktoothed, probably inbred, and just one of the most degenerate pieces of trash to be committed to paper.
Aside from assisting in general duties such as kidnap and murder for the ‘Miss Marie’, T.C is also an unashamed zoophile. Several times we hear or see him unzipping and slipping into some poor, innocent creature. Whatever he can get his hands on, he’ll fuck; in one flashback scene he “chokes the chicken” in everything but the figurative sense, and then kills Jesse’s young friend, who he accuses of spying on him.
The above picture shows just what a disgusting character he is. They won’t go there, though, will they? I mean, he’ll be a greasy redneck for sure, but if they cut out the bestiality we’ll not be surprised in the slightest.
5: Miss Oatlash
Hitler: not so bad (apparently)
Heading back to Salvation: remember the dominatrix we mentioned? Odin Quincannon does a lot of stuff wrong, and so he needed legal counsel savvy enough to get him out of whatever trouble he created for himself.
Enter Miss Oatlash. She’s strong. She’s a bit scary. OF COURSE she’s a Hitler-loving Nazi apologist with a background in bondage, sado-masochism and watersports.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a bridge too far. There’s one sequence where she kidnaps Jesse, moulds him to look like Hitler, then tries to have her way with him. It’s absurd, awesome, and won’t happen.
4. Allfather D’Aronique
Putting all-you-can-eat buffets out of business since whenever the hell this fucker was born
Let’s not kid around; Allfather D’Aronique is fucking massive. The leader of the highly secretive organisation The Grail, he’s got anything he wants right at his fingertips, and the lackeys to ensure he doesn’t even have to get it himself. He is the dictionary definition of both “fat” and “fuck” and there’s not an missing-God-damn thing you can do about it (unless you are a wobbly helicopter pilot familiar with the laws of physics).
But whilst Big Daddy D’Aronique has gorged himself to obesity, in a parody of the kind of religious gluttony only the Catholic church can match, he also has a second eating disorder: bulimia.
Eating disorders are rightly touchy subjects, and have to be handled with a bit of maturity in the mainstream media. When they are touched upon, it’s usually delicate teenage girls hiding their extra-curricular bathroom visits from parents until they’re found out and counselled through it. Very rarely (read: never) is it a 700lb Papal parody with an ivory throat-poker, and it sends neither a very positive message, nor paints Christian-centric religions in a very positive light. And how.
We know that both HBO and Netflix shied away from taking up the property based on its extremely negative religious themes, and so we have to ask whether AMC are brave enough to take the flak from the largest Christian nation on the planet, or otherwise will shy away from painting what is basically the Pope as a bulimic who shamelessly throws up on himself in public.
And speaking of religion…
…and also a massive douchebag
It’s not like God hasn’t been depicted before. Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty. Alanis Morissette in Dogma. George Burns in Oh, God!. But those are all nicey nicey portrayals of the dude. Preacher‘s God is childish, arrogant and manipulative. He’s the kind of god most atheists picture; vengeful where he’s supposed to be loving. He ups and fucks off at the first sign of Genesis, the angel/demon hybrid “new idea” that rivals his own power and inhabits Jesse Custer at the beginning of the story.
It’s very rare you get a depiction like that. Perhaps Maurice Roëves‘s God in The Granton Star Cause, a pitiless and profane drunk who turns a man into a fly as punishment for wasting his life, is the closest and most controversial. You’d expect nothing less from Irvine Welsh, and what did he get for his troubles? Mary Whitehouse, Mrs. Red Triangle herself. Sure, her protestation just made the film more famous, but the internet didn’t have the same power back then.
A prime-time network in America would be very brave to risk the ire of the religious right. I’m not sure they’ll be that brave.
2. The Messiah
Never go full retard…
When you display the kind of explosive power Jesse Custer has by incinerating thr 200 people in the congregation of a small Texas township, you’re bound to attract some attention. Unwanted attention.
Somewhere around arc 5, the young reverend has to travel to France to take on The Grail in their own headquarters after Herr Starr makes it his mission to install him as the new messiah of their world domination-seeking masterplan.
They do actually already have a messiah, but…there’s a problem. Their current prize horse – Grail’s most closely-guarded secret and the crux of their ultimate scheme – is a severely mentally handicapped young man; the product of nearly two-thousand years of incestuous inbreeding from the bloodline of Jesus Christ, who apparently didn’t die on the cross, but was secretly saved and sired a family, and actually died at age 43 when he was run over by an offal cart.
In order to keep the holy bloodline pure, brother and sister have been bred together for generations, at the behest of The Grail. Calculating roughly 20 years per generation, and 50 generations per 1000 years, that’s about a hundred generations of sibling love gone horribly, horribly wrong. That’s Jesus Christ’s family. All simpler than 1+1 on a calculator with only three buttons and the display will only show the number 2.
I mean, come on. Do you really think that any American network is in their right mind going to drop trou and bare their chocolate starfish to that kind of rabid Two Minutes Hate? AMC are one of the USA’s bigger networks, so this wouldn’t be something they could hope to sweep under the rug if they went, to borrow an expression, “full retard”; we’re talking Jack Thompson/Grand Theft Auto levels of outrage here. We’re talking Islamic death threats against Scandinavian cartoonists, and this is much, much more inflammatory than drawing Mohammed with a bomb under his turban. This is Jesus Christ Superstar meets the New South Wales Colts x100. Not in a million years is it going to happen.
What could they get away with here? I have no fucking idea. The whole notion is superlatively provocative from the base up. It’s part of what makes the whole situation so amazing. It’s going to be very difficult to pull off, if they even mention it at all. I’m going with they’ll cut the whole idea and just deal with The Grail going after Custer to be their puppet messiah. It’s a whole lot less messy.
1. Jesus DeSade
It’s probably for the best though
A wealthy hedonist and the Lord of the free-fucking Gomorrah People, Jesus DeSade is quite obviously a bastardisation of the Marquis de Sade, and the big J-man himself. He appears fairly early on in the saga (in the fourth arc “Hunters“) and spends rather a lot of time naked and sticking things in everything and everyone, including but not limited to women, men, and armadillos. They lead a life of hedonism, and basically anything is fair game. They just don’ care.
Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy find themselves at his mansion at the height of one of his ‘parties.’ It’s fairly par for the course for Preacher, with people running around fucking each other. What fun.
What places him firmly in the good reverend’s targets is when he walks in on a room containing a camera and a child.
Not much more really needs to be said. There’s no way anyone in their right mind would touch that in a TV property. It’s the definition of gratuitous, which is what the series is about really – and Jesus DeSade is the embodiment of this – but audiences won’t react at all well. Forget the religious; half the country could be up in arms. Good publicity, but they’ll never do it. I’d be surprised if DeSade is even half of what he is in the comics; were this HBO, there’d be a lot off weewees and hoohas flying around, but it ain’t, so I really don’t know.
So there we have it: drugs, nudity, sexual deviancy, racism, violence, swearing, eating disorders, and blasphemy of the highest order. When you take a look at the list, you just know they’re going to have to dispose with at least some of it.
What do you guys think? Will any of these baser aspects defy TV logic and make the cut? Will we get to see any of these as Ennis and Dillon intended? Let us know below!