Gary Ross Delays Venom for Matt Helm with Bradley Cooper?

I have to admit, the notion of Gary Ross, the guy behind “Pleasantville” and “Seabiscuit” writing “Spider-Man 4” was kinda a shock already, but the idea of him writing and directing a “Venom” spin-off movie was just … strange, though not unheard of; Marvel has, after all, given “Thor” to Shakespeare guy Kenneth Branagh, and that’s possibly the biggest WTF moment of 2008. Now, word from The Playlist is that Venom will have to wait, because Gary Ross has just hopped onboard “Matt Helm” with an eye towards writing and directing it.

Originally, Steven Spielberg was anxious to direct “Matt Helm”, a personal favorite of his, but apparently a recent split between Spielberg’s Dreamworks and Paramount may have dampened the uber director’s affections for the Donald Hamilton series of spy novels. As a result, Spielberg has voluntarily left the project, leaving space open for Gary Ross to take over.

If Ross does end up writing and directing the big-screen adventures of the 1960s action-oriented spy, he may be directing Bradley Cooper. Word is that Cooper is currently in discussions to take the lead role after losing out on “The Green Lantern” to Ryan Reynolds, but winning the Faceman role on Joe Carnahan’s “The A-Team”, which is currently shooting up north aways.

Not surprisingly, “The Bourne” films are being used as an example of what a Matt Helm movie would look like. As all swords and sandals movies are compared to “300”, and all comic book movies are compared to “The Dark Knight”, so too is all action movies compared to the “Bourne” movies.

Paul Attanasio (“Donnie Brasco”) recently turned in a well-liked draft of the script, and a Summer 2010 shoot is currently the plan, which will mean, again, that a “Venom” movie will have to wait at least two years to start moving again.

Don't shout, Matt Helm has a hangover. Get it? Ahem.

Don't shout, Matt Helm has a hangover. Get it? Ahem.