EXCLUSIVE: After establishing himself as one of the mainstays of the next phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Simu Liu is ready to get nervous. Sources tell Deadline he’s set to play the Netflix antagonist Atlas with Jennifer Lopez. Sterling K. Brown and Abraham Popoola also landed key roles in the pic, which is directed by Brad Peyton. Aron Eli Coleite is writing the most recent version of the screenplay based on Leo Sardarian’s original screenplay.
Joby Harold and Tory Tunnell are producing for Safehouse Pictures with Peyton and Jeff Fierson for ASAP Entertainment plus Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Benny Medina are joining Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions. Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter also recently joined as producers through their Berlanti/Schechter films. Mike McGrath will serve as executive producer, with Courtney Baxter and Matt Schwartz co-producing.
The film follows Atlas, a woman who fights for humanity in a future where an AI soldier has determined that the only way to end the war is to end humanity. To outwit this rogue AI, Atlas must work with the one thing she fears the most: another AI.
Liu delivered the goods in last summer’s Marvel pic Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which had one of the biggest openings after the pandemic reset. It would be a huge hit, grossing $432 million at the worldwide box office and solidifying Liu as a future building block of the MCU. This latest edgy villain role is just part of how Liu has diversified his future roster with different roles in different genres. Next summer, he will show his comic talents in the Barbie photo at Warner Bros which also features Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. It also has romantic drama A true love and King Arthur with Mark Wahlberg. It is replaced by CAA and Authentic Talent and Literary Management.
As for Brown, following his NBC drama It’s us Wrapping up last May, it’s looking to bolster its slate of films. Next up is Focus Drama Honk for Jesus. save your soul, which opens Labor Day weekend. He also has several projects at amazon and sci-fi photography Biosphere. It is currently in production on the Hulu limited series Washington Black , which he also produces through his production company Indian Meadows Productions. He is replaced by CAA, JWS Entertainment and attorney Gregory Slewett of Ziffren Brittenham.
Popoola was last seen in Great on Hulu. It is replaced by Independent Talent Group, APA and Grandview.