Garth Ennis Hates God, God Hates ‘Preacher’

By Randal Stevens · April 30, 2010

Warning: This blog contains spoilers. Under no circumstances should you continue reading this blog unless you’ve read the “Preacher” comic series written by Garth Ennis from 1995 – 2000. If you do read this blog without having read “Preacher,” I’ll go all Saint of Killers on you. See? Because you didn’t read “Preacher,” you have no idea what I’m talking about.

It was recently announced that Sam Mendes, director of such suburb-loathing films as American Beauty and Revolutionary Road, would be the next director to tackle the latest installment in the never-ending testament to male inferiority complexes known as James Bond. This news brought cheers from all those who suffered through the enigmatically-named Quantum of Solace and boos from those who thought the feature-length version of “Preacher” would finally be seeing the light of day. Mendes, wanting to further confuse the shit out of anyone trying to decipher a pattern in the projects he chooses, was supposedly attached to the film adaptation of the graphic novel months ago. His departure marks the fourth time in 12 years that “Preacher” was going to be made then not going to be made. In that time names like Kevin Smith, Harvey Weinstein, James Marsden and Mark Steven “I directed Ghost Rider AND Simon Birch” Johnson all tried to bring the story to life. Despite Mendes’ departure, Columbia Pictures insists the film is moving forward, confirming that John August (Big Fish, Go) has written a very faithful adaptation. But it won’t happen. Ever. It won’t happen for the same reason the Large Hadron Collider will never be successfully turned on: God.

I don’t mean to say that God is personally interfering in both projects to ensure they don’t succeed – that distinction goes solely to the LHC (God has problems with man trying to re-create the Big Bang, potentially destroying the universe) – but God’s existence, or the prevalent belief in God’s existence, is definitely ensuring that “Preacher,” in its purest form, will never ever see the light of day.

You see, despite the fact that we have rampant corruption in our government, incurable greed in our corporations, incomprehensible stupidity in our population and Paul W.S. Anderson movies, we still consider ourselves a Christian nation and we especially hate anything borderline blasphemous, heretical or even outside of the box when it comes to our media: Ken Russell’s The Devils was heavily censored upon its American release in 1971 and saw its uncut DVD dropped from the Warner Bros. release schedule; in 2008, the documentary, Bloodlines, a companion piece to the book “Holy Blood, Holy Grail,” opened in only one theater in New York City; and NBC’s “The Book of Daniel” was canceled before the first season even finished. If you’re a filmmaker who has anything to say about God other than “He’s great” and anything to say about His followers other than “they’re good people” – despite what evidence may or may not show – then you’re on America’s hit list.

If it remains faithful to the source, as Columbia says it will, then the “Preacher” adaptation, and everyone associated with it, would be on America’s hit list because Garth Ennis literally hates the idea of God. Keep in mind, “Preacher” involves an angel that fucks a demon and births a child more powerful than the selfish and cowardly God, who appoints an immortal Saint of Killers that ultimately ends up murdering the Almighty and all his heavenly hosts. This isn’t just out of the box, this is waaaaay the fuck out in the spiritual left field. You know things are a bit too controversial when HBO, one of the most subversive and cutting edge cable channels out there, abandons the project because it’s “too stylistically dark and religiously controversial.”

Some people may point to John August’s hiring and Columbia’s insistence on moving forward and disagree with my assertion that we’ll never see the “Preacher” feature (why did I not think of this rhyme until now?). But look at August’s resume and tell which of his features in between Charlie’s Angels and Corpse Bride were even remotely controversial. No, I think that August’s hiring at Columbia’s insistence further proves my point, especially considering that means they’re NOT using any of the drafts Ennis wrote himself. Yes, we may see Preacher, but even if it’s narratively faithful I think it will be thematically unfaithful. Whether God learns a lesson at the end, or Jesse Custer ends up learning to forgive Him, or they just straight up remove the Saint of Killers (blasphemy in and amongst itself, I know), there’s no way we see Ennis’ story faithfully brought to life.