This female superhero’s had her own comic book, co-starred in other characters’ comic books, debuted in live action in a crappy made-for-TV movie before starring in a relatively short-lived TV series, and now officially has a proper big budget movie in development. It’s about time, too, because we’re all so sick of the lack of racial and gender diversity in our superhero movies. This is the kickass gal who’s going to save the day and make great strides for the representation of women in film.
Around now is when you should be hearing the gloriously campy theme song from the old Wonder Woman TV show in your head because that’s clearly who I’m talking about, right? However, I’m assuming you’ve actually read the title of this article meaning you know I’m actually talking about Painkiller Jane.
Wait, who the heck is Painkiller Jane?
[Awkward silence] I have to be honest; I’ve barely heard of Painkiller Jane. In fact, the first time I heard about her was during the onslaught of comic book movie news coming out of San Diego Comic-Con this summer. Mixed in with recaps of panel appearances and descriptions of exclusive footage premiered from Batman v Superman, Ant-Man, and Avengers: Age of Ultron was a little story about horror directors and identical twins Jen and Sylvia Soska (See No Evil 2) landing the gig to direct a Painkiller Jane movie based on a script by Craig Weeden and Jane co-creator Jimmy Palmiotti. Painkiller Jane, huh. Cool name. Who the heck is she?
According to our old reliable pal Wikipedia, Painkiller Jane debuted in Event Comics in 1995, beginning life in a 5-issue mini-series before crossing over with Punisher and Hellboy. Jane’s origin story apparently varies, but the one Wikipedia is going with has her as an undercover police officer infiltrating the mob, who turned her into an unwitting suicide bomber. The bomb which was meant to kill both her and a rival gang member went off early, causing significant damage to her but none to anyone else. Her intended target mysteriously managed to revive her, somehow making her indestructible with every minor injury healing in seconds, major injury in minutes. Of course, she still feels the immense pain every single time meaning she clearly loves herself some painkillers, thus her name. That’s pretty much it for her in the superpower department, but she puts her healing power to good use as a vigilante, managing to hold her own as a fighter with a particular affinity for a pair of handguns.
You can see a slightly different origin story detailed in this panel from Painkiller Jane: The Price of Freedom #1 (2013):
You can also get a sense of her endearingly Wolverine-esque personality in this panel from the same issue, both panels taken from AdventuresInPoorTaste.com:
While certainly not a hero in a traditional sense, I know more than a couple of people who would find Jane to be their personal hero for telling that kid to “go play in traffic.” At the very least, this looks like a fun book that I should have already been reading.
Clearly, Jane deserves an R-rating to thrive. Based on their recent interview with CraveOnline, the Soska sisters clearly agree:
It has to be an R-rated character…because when you come to a character like Jane, she drinks, she fights, she fucks, she talks like you and I talk, and that’s an important part of her character.
They also recognize that this is actually going to be the third attempt to adapt Painkiller Jane:
There’s a Made-for-TV movie [aired on SyFy], there’s a TV series [lasted for one season on SyFy], and they kept watering her down, watering her down, watering her down […] Jen and I are not going to let that happen, and Jimmy Palmiotti – who is also one of the producers – he’s not going to let that happen. The producers of this movie they’re all… There are some scenes in this movie, there’s no way they’re not going to slap us with an R. Once you see it, it’s going to just be batshit crazy.
Yet not a lot of people seem to know that this is a film that is happening, continuing to bang the drum for live-action female superhero movies when the Soska sisters, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Solipsist films are throwing Painkiller Jane together. They’re already at the casting stage, in close talks with an unidentified actress for the lead role. If they keep going at this pace they’ll definitely get done well before Wonder Woman’s 2017 release. That Jane could beat Black Widow, Wonder Woman, or Black Cat to theaters actually seems to amuse the Soskas:
“I’m so excited about it because there are so few female superheroes that are leading movies. It would be obvious [to] put Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in something, and you’re still not doing that [..] And then you get this bi-sexual, badass, dirty language, doesn’t give a fuck cop as the first female-starring [superhero] movie? And I don’t really include Elektra and Catwoman. I don’t think those are real movies. It’s just exciting to see that girl fucking kick ass, and if that makes money, then all those all those other girls, hopefully, will get their chances to be starring [in their own] movies too.”
Of course, this is all kind of flying relatively under the radar (or it least it had been) because anything in comics outside of DC or Marvel tends to struggle to gain mainstream exposure, and the Soskas twins have yet to actually make a movie which made it into theaters (American Mary, See No Evil 2) as opposed to direct-to-video/VOD. Plus, we are talking about a character who somehow wasn’t good enough to cut it on the SyFy Channel…twice! (As a Eureka/Haven/Defiance fan, I apologize for that slam on SyFy, but, still, it wasn’t entirely uncalled for).
But if I ignore all of that I kind of want to see a Painkiller Jane movie made by the cool twin sisters who just gave a pretty fun interview. I assume whatever they make will look better than this:
What about you? Is this the first you’ve ever heard of Painkiller Jane and/or this film adaptation? Or did you actually watch that SyFy TV series and quite enjoy it? Let me know in the comments.