LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - As Tom Cruise writes the next chapter in his career, he's developing an interest in comic-book movies.
With filmmaker Sam Raimi, the actor is setting up "Sleeper" as a feature project at Warner Bros. Cruise is loosely attached to star in the adaptation of the DC Comics/Wildstorm comic, which Raimi would produce with his Star Road Entertainment partner Josh Donen.
Written by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips, "Sleeper," which ran from 2003 through 2005, centers on an operative whose fusion with an alien artifact makes him impervious to pain. An intelligence agency places him undercover in a villainous organization and falls for Miss Misery, a member of the group.
Although he remains a co-owner of United Artists -- from which his longtime producing partner, Paula Wagner, resigned last week -- Cruise is not tied exclusively to that company.
His next acting job will be in the Spyglass thriller "Tourist," as if to counter the more cerebral roles he played in the UA boxoffice failure "Lions for Lambs" and the upcoming UA World War II period drama "Valkyrie," in which he plays the anti-Nazi Claus van Stauffenberg.
"Sleeper" is the third project that Cruise has become associated with over the past two weeks -- all three separate from his commitments at UA. In addition to "Tourist," the actor has expressed interest in the Working Title/Universal comedy "Food Fight."
Also apart from UA, the actor picked up good notices last week for his uncharacteristic turn as a bald film mogul in the DreamWorks-Paramount comedy "Tropic Thunder."
Even if Cruise opts not to do "Sleeper," his interest in the project is propelling it, despite the challenge of complicated rights issues that must be sorted out.
"Sleeper" is a spin-off book from Wildstorm flagship title "WildC.A.T.s" and features characters from another spin-off book, "Gen 13."
Both books had been set up at different film companies around town, and some of those deals were made before DC bought the imprint in 1999.
Warners, now involved in a legal wrangle with Fox over the rights to the superhero movie "Watchmen," appears determined to cross all the t's and dot all the i's in its contracts for "Sleeper."
The project is being eyed not only as a starring vehicle for Cruise but also as a possible franchise for the studio.