Superhero fans on the far-right political spectrum have one less movie to get excited about, putting their options for hateful heroes to—well—none. As first reported by The Daily Beast, a movie that was set to give us a big-screen rendition of an “anti-woke superhero” is shuttered, and the thousands of dollars fans invested in the project likely won’t be coming back to them, according to a video sent to fans and posts on the creator’s blog.
The film, called Rebel’s Run, was headed by exemplar of right-wing harassment campaigns Theodore Beale, who goes by “Vox Day” online. The movie was meant to be based on a comic series which is published under Beale’s own Arkhaven comics brand, and the movie featured one of the characters who wore a Confederate battle flag in the same style as DC’s Wonder Woman. Though the trailer for the movie is no longer available, The Daily Beast described the action as the main character “Rebel” fighting off a global police force meant to hunt down conservative voices.
The campaign started in 2019, claiming around $941,000 in funds through their own campaign hosted on their film company’s page.
Beale reportedly told his fans “I wouldn’t count on us getting that money back.” Gizmodo reached out to Beale for comment but we did not immediately hear back. Beale mentioned in the video that his movie was conned by a separate party, even alleging the scheme was meant to disrupt his endeavor and “break our community.”
In an Oct. 13 post on Beale’s blog, the right-wing figurehead mentioned that there is “legitimate possibility” that the security deposit would be returned, but they won’t see any possible funds until the person who allegedly scammed them is sentenced.
That measly $1 million raised from Beale’s fans couldn’t produce a film to rival Marvel movie juggernauts. For more funds, he reportedly turned to Ohana Capital Financial, a Utah-based company that describes itself as a private investment firm, according to The Daily Beast. The firm was headed by James Wolfgramm, but according to a federal indictment filed Sept. 21 in Utah District Court, Ohana was just one of many firms operated by the man who also operated under aliases like Smisi Niu and James Vaka Niu, including bitcoin mining.
Wolfgramm, or whatever his real name is, allegedly worked to defraud companies by claiming he was a multimillionaire who made his money in crypto. He went as far as to post pictures of expensive sports cars he didn’t actually own, according to the indictment. Among many, many charges of fraud, prosecutors said Wolfgramm formed OCF out of thin air, accepted deposits from customers and used those funds to pay other business interests.
But most important for Beale and his production company Viral Films Media, prosecutors said the company called “VFM” sought funding to produce a movie. The $1 million handed over to Ohana was supposed to be held in escrow, meaning held until certain conditions are met, by Wolfgramm and his company so they could secure a $4 million loan. Prosecutors said Wolfgramm lied to Beale and his compatriots, and instead wired those funds to a Chinese manufacturer for PPE equipment that it failed to buy for another client.
Wolfgramm faces four counts of wire fraud regarding his dealings with Viral Films Media and other alleged scams. Gizmodo reached out to Wolfgramm’s attorney, who is listed as Hutch Fale of the Utah-based Avery Bursdal & Fale, but we did not immediately hear back.
Who Else Was Involved in the Rebel’s Run Trainwreck?
Beale is a longtime right-wing blogger who promotes his own role in the misogynistic GamerGate harassment campaign. He was also at the head of the Rabid Puppies campaign attempt to usurp the SciFi Hugo Award with a host of right-wing fiction and innocuous, sexually charged e-books (which eventually blew up in his face spectacularly). Beale has been called “the most despised man in science fiction.” He reportedly called the lauded and award-winning SciFi-Fantasy author N.K. Jemisin, who is Black, an “ignorant half-savage.” These comments helped him get expelled from the Science Fiction Writers Association.
Scooter Downey was listed as the film’s director. Downey had been previously signed on to write the script for Tucker Carlson’s right-wing conspiracy extravaganza documentary series on the Jan. 6 insurrection called Patriot Purge, and was also set to direct Rebel’s Run. His IMDB page lists Tucker Carlson Originals as part of his editorial filmography, which could include the utterly insane series End of Men, and he’s promoted that series on his Twitter account. Carlson recently caught some flak for platforming and endorsing men who tan their testicles, thinking that it aids testosterone production. Here’s a hint, it doesn’t.
But of course the right-wing mindset and conspiracies run deeper than that. Downey retweeted conspiracist accounts mentioning a “health crisis” caused by “endocrine disrupting pollutants, fake food, and lack of exercise.”
The other big name attached to the film was Chuck Dixon, a well-known comics writer who has written for Marvel’s Punisher series as well as DC’s Batman through the 1990s and early 2000s. Since 2010 he has dived headlong into the alt-right conspiracist sphere and started writing for Beale’s Arkhaven brand including the Alt-Hero series. That comic even includes a “Q” storyline, with the tagline “Where we go one,” which is a common phrase for the QAnon conspiracy that believes satanic Democrats are involved in a ring of cannabalistic pedophiles.