Well, that's what $175 million (and counting) will get you. Following the blockbuster opening of IRON MAN 3 (second only to last year's THE AVENGERS), Sony Pictures announced this week that writer/director Shane Black has been given the green light to move forward with his long rumored DOC SAVAGE film.
I must confess here and now that a well-done Doc Savage movie is at the top of my list of films I really want to see before I die. When I saw RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for the first time, I sat there with my jaw on the theater floor, saying over and over (to myself, of course), "this is what George Pal's DOC SAVAGE movie could have been and this is what any future Doc Savage movie should look like."
Well, it's been more than thirty years since Indy first cracked his whip and it looks like we are finally that much closer to a big budget, big screen Doc adventure film.
I have no problem with Black as the writer/director of this project. His work on IRON MAN 3 was solid and I enjoyed that movie. Secondly, the special effects should be no problem given current technology. It should be easy to recreate the New York City of the 1930s (look at Peter Jackson's KING KONG) so that's not a problem. CGI should do wonders for this material.
My reservations are in two areas. First, the script. Will this be an adaptation of an existing super-saga? Will we see THE MAN OF BRONZE or some other story brought to the screen or will it be a totally new, original story? For the story (adapted or original) to work, it absolutely must be set in the 1930s. Doc is forever and always a product of his time and to try and update him to the 21st century simply will not work. And I know humor will be an element of the film but I pray to the spirit of Lester Dent that it's not overdone and god forbid if the film veers into camp territory.
Second, there are many elements of the Doc mythos that could be included but I don't want the film to be overcrowded. Will we see the 86th floor headquarters, the Fortress of Solitude,the Crime College, the Hidalgo Trading Company, Doc's airplanes and dirigible, the Helldiver submersible, etc? I'm assuming all five members of his team will be in the film but what about Pat? Will she be in the film?
Finally, who in the world will they get to play Doc? I cannot think of any actor currently working whom I can envision as the Man of Bronze. I'm tempted to say go with an unknown but that won't happen. The Doc Savage brand is not well-known enough to the general movie-going public to risk a multi-million dollar project on an unknown actor. They have to have a name player in the part and let's just pray (pray hard) it's not Tom Cruise. Who will play the Fabulous Five? Who will play Pat (providing she's in the film)? Casting is an essential element here and it's one of the things the Pal DOC SAVAGE film got wrong. Ron Ely made a passable Doc but the five were all hopelessly miscast. I can think of several actors who are either dead or too old for the parts of Doc and his men but contemporary actors? No clue.
I will certainly see this film when it's released and I have nothing but the best expectations that given enough money, time, and talent, we'll see a satisfying DOC SAVAGE film. The film should be visually stunning but the script and the players are all going to have be worthy of the name of the greatest adventure hero of all time.
Mr. Black, the next chapter of the Doc Savage saga is in your hands. I wish you well.