Jump Start: The Mythology of Jumper
The thrilling and imaginative tale of JUMPER is, in the words of co-writer and producer Simon Kinberg, "the origin story of a hero -- an accidental, very reluctant hero who is just on the cusp of beginning to wonder what would happen if he used his extraordinary power to help others in jeopardy." Director Doug Liman, Kinberg and producer Lucas Foster spent the last several years developing not just the JUMPER screenplay but the rich mythology and back-story of an epic adventure about a young man trying to forge a real life in spite of his fantastic, temptation-filled power to teleport anywhere on earth in an instant.
For Doug Liman, whose deft passion for character-driven, unpredictably high-wire action has come to the fore in two of the most popular and acclaimed thrillers of recent times --
Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity -- the potential for JUMPER was irresistible. It was a chance to put his own hyper-modern twist on a now venerable genre of storytelling.
"Most of the stories we see about superheroes were actually written a century ago," Liman points out. "But what I loved about JUMPER is that it felt very fresh and modern. Ultimately, it became the biggest creative challenge of my career."
The evolution of the story began with a duo of young-adult, sci-fi novels by Steven Gould --Jumper and Reflex-- which introduced the character of David Rice, a troubled young man whose seemingly inexplicable teleportation abilities help him to start a dream-like new life far from the pain of his past. After debuting to high praise from both critics and readers, Gould's series quickly developed a strong following; but it was clear the story had the potential to go even further. When executive producers Vince Gerardis and Ralph M. Vicinanza encountered the books they knew immediately they had the material for a great cinematic adventure.
That's when David Goyer, the sought-after screenwriter who cut his teeth working with classic superheroes and villains in such action-thrillers as Blade and Batman Begins, entered the picture. He not only adapted Gould's tale for the screen but enlarged it, bringing in the new character of Griffin, another mysterious Jumper who has been on the run since he was a child, and forging a larger scope for the story. Along the way, Goyer shattered the usual conventions of superpower tales, delving into how his characters struggle mightily with the very real temptations of their consummately escapist powers. He unfolded the story's non-stop thrills against an unlikely story of a young man learning the consequences of total freedom.
"What I loved about David Goyer's original draft is that it was about somebody who gets superpowers and the first thing he does with them is go out and rob a bank. I really liked the honesty of that," says Doug Liman. "It was something I hadn't seen before and as a character-driven director it really interested me. I was also drawn to how imaginative and outrageous this canvas would allow me to be. Having done two action films in a row, I was attracted to the challenge of working with these profoundly human, complex characters."
Producer Lucas Foster was also drawn to Goyer's approach, especially the way it emphasized the humanity roiling beneath a young man's one superhuman power. "Jumping gives David Rice a way to escape his unhappy home life, but it also puts him out into the world on his own where he has to learn how to be an adult and to be courageous enough to deal with the tough issues in his life," says Foster. "The way David has to learn to step up and face his demons head-on is something to which I think everyone can relate. Unique as his situation as a Jumper is, there's something very universal about his story."
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