Tuesday, August 7, 2018

About That Doc Savage Movie . . .

Shane Black, who has spoken of his love for yesteryear's pulp and paperback hero many a time (rather more seriously than most Hollywood types talking about their inspirations and influences, I think, citing editions of The Executioner by name and number), is every so often reported to be bringing one to the screen. Back in 2014, for example, almost fresh off his success with Iron Man 3, he was reportedly working on a new big-screen edition of the Destroyer.

Little was heard of that project, however, but in spring 2016 he was supposed to be getting ready to helm a new production based on Doc Savage, with Dwayne Johnson cast in the lead. Two years on one might have expected the film to be out by now. As it is the would-be filmmakers continue to deal with legal hassles nad scheduling issues that must be settled before they can even begin production.

Have the Suits damned the project to development hell? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Still, there is room for doubt about how the film will do. The material has dated, but Hollywood's rarely cares about the purists anyway, except when they are an excuse to lazily and shamelessly recycle old material. (Remember The Force Awakens?) Accordingly I have little doubt that Savage will be bumped from the commercially risky interwar era (Indiana Jones pretty much has a monopoly on that anyway) to the present, and the Fabulous Five wholly reinvented with the expectations of today's critics in every regard from their demographics to the updating of yesteryear's preferred version of hokey humor to today's preferred version of hokey humor.

If they go with an updated, and likely generic, product, the sales pitch will be tougher, especially given the issue of brand name. That John Carter was the first great outer space hero did not do much to sell tickets back in 2012. Doc Savage's undeniable status as the forerunner to innumerable action-adventure heroes who have since made their debut should not be expected to do much more for him. For better or worse the name simply does not have much drawing power with today's moviegoers, while the scene has become very crowded indeed, many, many, many other figures doing this sort of thing on screen in recent decades and years, many of them played by Dwayne Johnson himself. Indeed, assuming Shane Black sticks with something like the premise of Savage's first adventure, audiences watching the star run around a jungle might think they're watching a sequel to Jumanji. Or Journey 2. Or G.I. Joe. Or even The Rundown. (Or another edition of Predator, one of which is heading to a theater near you this September, directed by Mssr. Black himself.)

My Posts on Solo: A Star Wars Story
Now on Google Books . . . (Star Wars in Context: Second Edition)
Some of What I've Been Up to Lately (NYRSF, SSRN, Star Wars in Context: Second Edition)
What Ever Happened to Gold Eagle Publishing?
Just Out . . . The End of Science Fiction?
Just Out . . . (The Many Lives and Deaths of James Bond, 2nd edition)
Just Out. . . (James Bond's Evolution)
Just Out . . . (The Forgotten James Bond)
My Posts on the Dirk Pitt Series
Dirk Pitt, an American James Bond?

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