Paramount Pictures Is Adapting Markus Sakey’s Superhero Novel Brilliance

With Marvel’s Cinematic Universe moving on to its next phase, other studios are looking to build their own superhero franchises. One such project is Brilliance, based on the novel by Markus Sakey. According to Deadline, Paramount Pictures has snapped up the film rights to the book, with Will Smith tapped to lead the film and Akiva Goldsman writing the script. This marks the fourth film for Smith and Goldsman, following I, Robot, I Am Legend and Hancock.

Sakey first published the novel in 2011 with Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint. It’s set in a world much like our own, but where 1 percent of the population has acquired special abilities: these so-called “Brilliants” can turn invisible, detect minute patterns in the stock market, and so forth. The novel follows Nick Cooper, a Brilliant federal agent with a predictive gift and a knack for tracking down people, particularly Brilliants who step out of line. Cooper is tasked with finding John Smith, a Brilliant terrorist; he pretends to defect to protect his children and take down Smith and his allies.

Sakey went on to write a pair of sequels, A Better World and Written in Fire. While Deadline did not specifically mention the sequels as part of the deal, future films may be a possibility.

This is the second time around Hollywood for Brilliance: in 2013 Legendary Pictures picked up the rights. Will Smith was also attached to this earlier version, with David Koepp brought on to adapt the script. The project was shelved as of 2017 after a reorganization at the studio.

Sakey’s Brilliants’ seem to have powers that are a bit more mundane and grounded than their comic book counterparts, and the novels are loaded with fast-paced action. This feels very much like a project that Smith is well-suited to play, especially after projects like Netflix’s Bright and the forthcoming Gemini Man, in which he plays an assassin taking on a younger clone of himself.


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