Writer And Winter Soldier Co-Creator Ed Brubaker Reveals His ‘Maniac Cop’ Series With ‘Drive’ Director Nicolas Winding-Refn Was Killed By Sensitivities Toward Police Violence

Mostly bad cop
Robert Z'Dar's face reveal as the title character in Maniac Cop (1988), Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment

More than a minute, it has been a long time since we heard anything about the incipient Maniac Cop adaptation from the team of Captain America scribe Ed Brubaker and the frequent collaborator with Ryan Gosling, Danish director Nicolas Winding-Refn. 

Waiting in the dark
Matt Cordell (Robert Z’Dar) stands in the dark for victims in Maniac Cop (1988), Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment

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Within the past couple of years, the project seemed to have footing on the beat, first as a feature film and then as a series for streaming.

But then, a few short years ago updates on its progress went colder than the touch of the film franchise’s lead antagonist, the undead police officer Matt Cordell.

The reason for that, which Brubaker explained late last year, will surprise no one. His scripts were written and restructured for episodic television during a time when the country was being rocked by riots, protests, and media coverage that started with the George Floyd case.

Vince saqud
Laurene Landon’s badge is upside down but they didn’t care in Maniac Cop (1988), Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment

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“It got announced,” said Brubaker during an appearance on Comic Book Club Live. “And then a month later, basically, everyone in the world was like, hey, maybe not everything about cops… So I have a hard time seeing a world where Max especially makes a show called Maniac Cop.”

He confirmed, “It got greenlit at HBO at one point… I had written a movie version of it.”

Brubaker continued, “And then I and then I worked with Refn, and another friend of ours to sort of figure out a way to take some of the movie script, and then do a rewrite on and turn it into the pilot episode of like, a mini, eight-episode thing instead.

Bruce didn't do it
Bruce Campbell is framed in Maniac Cop (1988), Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment

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He added, “And so I did that on spec for him while we were working on [Too Old To Die Young for Amazon].”

He described the tone he and Refn were going for which, true to the spirit of the trilogy of films, was in the realm of black comedy.

“We were leaning in very hard to the expectations of what that would be,” Brubaker said. “And the tension of the moment, the opening scene, the five pages of that pilot version are f-king terrifying and also hilarious. It’s kind of a black comedy.”

We might never know how his script would resonate with audiences. The tide could turn in its favor but Brubaker is skeptical. “I don’t think anything will ever happen with it if I’m being really honest. But we’ll see. It’s Refn. So you never know,” he said.

NEXT: New Report Hints Maniac Cop Reboot From Drive Director Nicolas Winding Refn And Captain America Writer Ed Brubaker Ready To Start Shooting

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