UPDATE: It turns out that Kurtzman and Orci are NOT the pair that are producing the Doc Savage adaptation. According to Collider, it is actually Neil Moritz and Ori Marmur, the producing team currently working on The Green Hornet, Battle: Los Angeles and Jack The Giant Killer for Sony Pictures. This means that Doc Savage will also be done for Sony, and as Michael E. Uslan is at Warner Brothers, his involvement is doubtful. Now if there’s anyone out there with a copy of the script that Michael Chabon was reportedly working on for Uslan and is willing to share…
Shane Black, creator of the Lethal Weapon franchise, is preparing to script an adaptation of the classic pulp adventure character Doc Savage, according to Ain’t It Cool News. AICN head honcho Harry Knowles had a chance encounter with the writer, who revealed that he would be scripting the project for Star Trek producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
What’s surprising to me about this news is that earlier this year at the New York Comics Con I chatted with Batman Begins/The Dark Knight producer Michael E. Uslan who stated that he had the film rights to the pulp character and had been hoping to make an announcement about a film project at the forthcoming San Diego ComicsCon. No announcement ever came though. Right now it is not known if Uslan is still involved with the project.
A brilliant master of all trades, Clark “Doc” Savage, Jr. trotted the globe investigating all sorts of scientific mysteries and helping people in distress with the help of his five friends- “Monk” Mayfair, “Ham” Brooks, “Renny” Renwick, “Long Tom” Roberts and “Johnny” Littlejohn. The character first appeared in his eponymously-named pulp magazine in March 1933 and quickly became one of the most popular pulp heroes of the 1930s and 40s, rivaling only The Shadow in sales. Although created by Street and Smith Publications publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L. Nanovic, it was the series’ main writer, Lester Dent, who fully fleshed out the background and adventures of Doc and his aides. The series proved so popular that it spawned a comic book series from Street & Smith and two short-lived radio series.
Doc Savage continued to be popular even after his pulp series ceased publication in the summer of 1949. In the 1960s, Bantam Books began reprinting the original pulp novels in new, slightly edited, paperback editions. It took to the summer of 1990 to reprint the entire series.
The popularity of the reprint series inspired producer George Pal to produce a Doc Savage film, released in 1975, starring Ron Ely. Although the casting of Doc and his five aides captured the look of the characters, the movie’s campy tone disappointed fans and kept audiences away.
Additional, National Public Radio produced a new 13 episode radio series in 1985. Doc also reappeared in new four-color adventures at various times from DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse and Millennium between the 1970s and 90s. In 2007, Doc’s creator Dent became a hero in Paul Malmont’s novel The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, teaming with Shadow creator Walter Gibson to stop a plot to destroy New York City.
Today, Doc’s pulp adventures are being reprinted again, though with out the edits found in the Bantam series, by Nostalgia Ventures/ Sanctum Books. Most recently, DC Comics announced a new comics series that would see Doc and his aides interacting with the publisher’s more pulp-based characters, starting with a one-shot teaming the Man of Bronze up in an adventure with Batman.