The works of William Shakespeare are hardly immune to modernist revisions, from Baz Luhrmann’s ‘90s take on Romeo + Juliet to Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet with Ethan Hawke — not to mention the various ways the bard’s works have been repurposed in rom-coms for decades. But none of these adaptations have anything on Romeo and Juliet: The War, a graphic novel retelling of Shakespeare’s tragic love story featuring cyborgs and genetically-enhanced humans.

As if the story of Romeo and Juliet wasn’t effective enough on its own, Stan Lee created Romeo and Juliet: The War, written by Max Work and released by Lee’s own POW! Entertainment label. If the idea of a cyborg-laden revisionist take on Shakespeare seems absurd to you, consider this: it was popular enough to become a New York Times bestseller in 2012. So it definitely has an audience, though I cannot speak to the individual life experiences that collectively resulted in a cyborg Romeo and Juliet story becoming such a big deal.

Anyhow! According to Variety, Lee’s POW! Entertainment is teaming with Lionsgate to bring this wacky version of Romeo and Juliet to the big screen, with a film for all those people that find reading, doomed romance and classic Shakespeare to be a little too pedestrian.

Here’s the official synopsis, which reads like a series of escalating dares:

Two groups of superhuman soldiers who turned the Empire of Verona into the most powerful territory on earth. The MONTAGUES, powerful cyborgs made of artificial DNA, and the CAPULETS, genetically enhanced humans known for their speed and agility, worked in tandem to destroy all threats to the city. With no one left to fight, the Montagues and Capulets found themselves a new enemy: each other.


A young Montague boy and Capulet girl who fall in love. They secretly plan to marry, hoping their union can be what brings peace between the warring factions. But forces beyond their control begin to conspire against them, threatening their love, their lives… and the entire Empire of Verona.


A tragedy that spans all of space and time.


Romeo and Juliet: The War

I have no idea if the graphic novel goes so far as to revise the tragic ending that helped cement Romeo and Juliet as such an influential, iconic work, but that probably depends on the physical weaknesses of cyborgs and genetically-modified humans — of which we must assume there are few, except for maybe fire and electrical storms.

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