The Man of Bronze returning to the big screen
I was considering writing a post where I was going to talk about why it might be time for a new Doc Savage movie.
There were 181 “adventures”, which always astounds me. The main author (Lester Dent) was writing something like a hundred (or so) page book every month. When he did take a vacation, he would write an outline first.
There’s more to Doc than I’m going to go through in this post. He is called “The Man of Bronze” (like the later Superman was “The Man of Steel”), but he isn’t actually “super”. He was trained from birth to be an adventurer, by his somewhat unusual father. He is very strong, very quick, and very intelligent.
He has a code never to kill, but he has developed non-lethal methods…for example, he carries little glass containers of an anesthetic gas. He can subtly break one, and hold his breath for a minute…knocking out people in the room.
There are a team of people helping him (they met in World War I…although, of course, in the first books it’s called The Great War. It wasn’t called World War I until there was a World War II). Monk (a chemist), Ham (a lawyer), Long Tom (an electrical engineer), Renny (a construction engineer), and Johnny (an archaeologist and geologist) make up this group. Monk and Ham bicker constantly, but are actually close friends…think of it a bit like Spock and McCoy.
Doc Savage has been made into a movie once before, in 1975. Going into it, I had some hopes for that version. It starred Ron Ely, who was television’s Tarzan. While well-muscled, he had a quiet presence…Doc is not a blustery guy. It was produced by George Pal, who had made one of my favorite movies (based on a great book), the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work very well. The movie was “campy”, like TV’s Batman series. That can be great…but it wasn’t, in this case. I still enjoyed the movie, but it wasn’t very much like the Doc we knew from the pulps.
I’d hoped for another version. I even thought about at least an opening scene. Doc is in a lab, in semi-darkness. A villain is in the room, holding a bottle of acid. He raises the bottle over his head to throw it. Boom! The bottle is shattered with a gunshot, and acid pours onto the bad guy, resulting in a very messy death. We see Monk, exulting from his successful kill. Doc crosses to Monk, takes the rifle from him, and breaks it across his own chest. Monk looks confused, and Doc says, “I had my shoe off.” Monk: “What?” “I was waiting until he threw the acid. I was going to throw it when the bottle was safely between us.” Monk: “Doc, what if you missed?” Doc walks off. (That scene is basically from one of the books).
While versions have been rumored over the years, there is one now in the works that looks like it will really be made.
Shane Black, a screenwriter best known for the Lethal Weapon movies, is reportedly going to direct for Columbia for a 2012 release. Some of you may also know Black as Hawkins, the kind of goofy member of the team in the Schwarzenegger movie, Predator.
I’m hoping the movie brings us the serious sense of danger of the books, even though it also needs a sense of humor. The casting may be a bit difficult…Doc is actually a pretty complicated character. I can’t see how Jack Black won’t get mentioned for Monk, and that could work. Hmmm… James Marsters as Ham? Jim Parsons as Johnny? I could definitely see Parsons delivering a line like, “I’ll be superamalgamated.” Brad Garrett might be a choice for Renny. Mackenzie Crook as Long Tom?
What about Ryan Reynolds as Doc? Could he bring the gravitas? I know my cast above is mostly a group of comedians, but I think that Doc will needto be the one to keep it serious. I think they might be better off with a relative unknown in that role.
Well, I’ll be following developments on this one…from my secret headquarters on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. 😉