Synchronicity or simply strange? We first reported on the adaptation of the Image Comics graphic novel Cowboy Ninja Viking back in November 2010. Disney had the project at the time, but deemed the script that Zombieland screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to be “too edgy” for their family-friendly bottom line. Universal Studios has the project now, and Marc Forster is planning to being production later this year after completing his duties on World War Z. [Deadline]

The title alone has most people scratching their heads, the synopsis doesn’t really help. Originally written by AJ Lieberman and illustrated by artist Riley Rossmo, here’s what this weirdness is about:

The title character comes from a secret government program to turn schizophrenics into assassins. The protagonist comes through the program with the skill sets of a cowboy, ninja and a viking. While most of the patients involved in the program are sent back to insane asylum after the program went awry in Iraq, he escapes and uses his skills to track down the billionaire who masterminded the program.

Got that? On one hand, it’s very interesting to see Forster move well out of his comfort zone after Quantum of Solace (the artsiest Bond film ever, and one of the most under-rated, in my opinion). WWZ on the other hand…does anyone think this concept will work in any capacity? Reese and Wernick are sharp writers and this is solidly in their wheelhouse but time will tell.

This isn’t the first time Universal has taken a troubled project off of Disney’s hands. Universal also picked up the Joseph Kosinski-helmed, Tom Cruise-starring Oblivion, also based on a graphic novel. With major studios chopping down big-budget projects left (20,000 Leagues Under The Sea) and right (the budget troubles of The Lone Ranger), the development progress of these two projects should prove interesting.

World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, opens December 21st, 2012.

Do you think Forster – or anyone, for that matter – can make Cowboy Ninja Viking work?

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