Par plays ‘The Bad Guy’

Cult comic book to be adapted by 'Hulk's' Hayter

Amid the surge in Hollywood superhero pics and sequels, Paramount Pictures is prepping serious counter-programming with “The Bad Guy.”

Studio is in talks to buy rights for the cult comic book “The Bad Guy,” to be developed as a feature by Barry Josephson — who shepherded such Sony franchises as “Men in Black” and “Bad Boys”  — under his Josephson Entertainment banner. David Hayter, one of the top scripters of superhero fare such as both “X-Men” pics, “The Hulk,” and “The Scorpion King,” will exec produce.

In “The Bad Guy,” the notion of superheroes saving the world has been turned on its head by writers Jason Harris and Zack Morrissette. Instead, the duo have fashioned a world in which a lone alienated mortal takes on genetically engineered superheroes who, as crime disappears, have become arrogant and bored.

“What ‘The Bad Guy’ does is take the big bright world of ‘Spider-Man’ and put Dirty Harry into it,” Hayter said.

Story also will involve a female with empathetic talents who is able to read the feelings of the lead character. Harris and Morrissette, managed by Kaplan/Perrone, will pen the first draft under Hayter’s supervision.

Project comes in the wake of Sony’s breakout success with “Spider-Man” and the 2003 release schedule already filling up with superhero fare such as Fox/Regency’s “Daredevil”; U’s “The Hulk”; Fox’s “X-Men 2” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”; and Par’s “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” sequel.

Josephson has a first-look deal at Fox and recently produced kidpic basketball comedy “Like Mike.” Hayter also scripted “Riddick,” U’s planned sequel to “Pitch Black,” with Akiva Goldsman and David Twohy.

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