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Tampa’s ‘Bloodshot’ creator talks Vin Diesel, Iron Man and more

He’s not worried about comic book movie fatigue.
Bob Layton is an artist, writer and editor who is notable for his work on Valiant Comics' "Bloodshot," which now has a movie starring Vin Diesel.
Bob Layton is an artist, writer and editor who is notable for his work on Valiant Comics' "Bloodshot," which now has a movie starring Vin Diesel. [ JAMES BORCHUCK | Times ]
Published Mar. 5, 2020
Updated Mar. 5, 2020

TAMPA — Seeing his characters on the big screen is old hat for Bob Layton, the comic book artist, writer and editor who lives here.

Layton’s version of Iron Man anchored the Marvel Cinematic Universe for more than a decade. His Huntress character appeared in the DC Extended Universe’s Birds of Prey.

Next up is Bloodshot, which will be released March 13 as part of the Valiant Cinematic Universe.

It stars Vin Diesel as Bloodshot, a Marine murdered alongside his wife and brought back to life as an amnesic super soldier. When he remembers who killed his wife, he seeks revenge, only to discover a larger conspiracy.

Bloodshot is Valiant’s first movie and, for Layton, different from other films based on his work. Layton played a vital role in the Marvel and DC universes but he co-founded Valiant Comics and later became its editor in chief.

Next up is a movie based on Valiant’s Harbinger about teenage superheroes. But Layton knows future Valiant movies could depend on Bloodshot’s success

The Tampa Bay Times spoke with Layton about the anticipation and the future of comic book films.

Related: Iron Man writer discusses new Ant-Man and what the future may hold for Tony Stark

How does the lead-up to Bloodshot feel different than waiting for the first Iron Man movie to come out in 2008?

That’s like asking how Christmas feels now compared to when I was a kid. It is different because I have had so many characters that I co-created or created on screen since then that some of the blush is off the rose.

But I am really excited about this one because it is the first Valiant one and I want it to be very successful because there is a host of characters I created at Valiant that are waiting in the wings to make it to the silver screen.

But I feel comfortable because it is Vin Diesel. He doesn’t make flops. The guy fills seats at the box office.

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You were on the set. What was it like to see this character brought to life?

When I was watching it, I thought, “This looks like another Vin Diesel movie.”

What I wasn’t taking into account was what they were going to do in post production. They gave him the glowing chest thing and made the skin gray and his eyes glow and he looked like the character so it all started to make sense.

When on the set, it’s really hard to imagine whether it will look really cool or not. Once I saw the stuff all clipped together in post it started to look really, really much closer to the original version.

Which Valiant character do you most want to get a movie?

I personally would go with X-O Manowar.

I grew up reading Robert E. Howard’s Conan and took the concept of Conan and Iron Man and mixed them together to create a very unique character. He is kidnapped by aliens during the time of ancient Rome, steals an alien battle suit and escapes back to Earth.

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But it is present day because of time dilation, so he is wandering around the streets of New York with the most powerful weapon in the world and the Roman sense of a pillaging barbarian. It’s loaded with great humor and pathos.

Can we expect to see you in Bloodshot?

I shot a cameo but I don’t know if it will be used.

Are you worried about comic book movie fatigue?

Not at all. There is always room for good stories. It doesn’t matter if someone is wearing underwear on the outside or inside. It is a matter of if it is a good story.

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Nobody will deny that Iron Man, even though he is couched in fantasy, is a really good story. It is a story about Tony Stark and it is character driven. This movie about Bloodshot is also character driven and I have high hopes for it.