Netflix has its next major action franchise: an adaptation of Keanu Reeves’ new BRZRKR comic book series, which the streaming service is turning into both a live-action film (produced and starring Reeves) and a sequel anime series (with Reeves voicing his character), the company announced today.
BRZRKR is a new 12-issue series from Boom Studios (the first issue of which was released earlier in March) co-written by Reeves himself (in his comics debut) and Matt Kindt (Folklords, Justice League of America) with art by Ron Garney. Fittingly, Reeves will play the title character in both the upcoming live-action series and the anime, although there’s no release date announced yet.
The ultra-violent comic follows an immortal berserker — who coincidentally looks almost exactly like Keanu — over his 80,000 year life, culminating in the present day, where he works for the US government in exchange for help discovering the secrets of his life and how he can finally die. (It’s a similar concept to Netflix’s The Old Guard, which is also based on a popular run of comics and is viewed as another potential franchise for the streaming service.)
BRZRKR was a massive crowdfunding success (helped in part by Reeves’ involvement), raising nearly $2 million between Kickstarter and additional funding before the first issue even hit shelves. The series has so far sold has over 615,000 copies, making it the second-most sold comic book in the last decade (following Marvel’s Star Wars #1 relaunch in 2015.)
The upcoming adaption fits Netflix’s current strategy perfectly: the streaming service is always hunting for more must-watch content, and particularly for the kinds of shows and movies that can build franchises to rival those of Disney’s Marvel or Star Wars or HBO Max’s Game of Thrones universes. The multimedia method for the project is also part of Netflix’s modern approach, mirroring animated expansions of projects like The Witcher or Zack Snyder’s upcoming Army of the Dead that are planned to help keep viewers invested even after the marquee show or movie has debuted.
It’s also the highest-profile project to come from Netflix’s recent first-look deal with Boom Studios, which gives the streaming service the first shot at adapting comics from the indie publisher.