Except for some die-hard comic book enthusiasts, the character Dan Dare isn’t much known here in the United States. But to British readers in the 1950s and 60s, he was their country’s answer to Buck Rodgers, a daring rocket ship pilot who protected the futuristic Earth of the 1990s from the menace of the Treens of Venus and their evil leader the Mekon.
But audiences may just be getting introduced to the character in the form of actor Sam Worthington, who has just been cast in a big screen adaptation of the character currently being developed over at Warner Brothers. No writer or director have been attached to the project yet, so don’t go looking for this project anytime soon.
While I had a vague awareness of the character for years, I never read any of his exploits until Virgin Comics recently published a seven-issue miniseries penned by Garth Ennis. Now I understand that the original strip, which debuted in 1950 and appeared in various British comics anthology magazines over the course of four decades, was not as cynical as this most recent incarnation. From what I’ve seen, the original’s tone is more a gung-ho, can-do patriotism vibe of the 50s. While it of course remains to be seen what direction the film will take the material, it probably won’t be as innocent as the original series was. Much like they do with all their titles, Virgin Comics acquired the property and published their mini-series in an effort to spin off the much more lucrative film adaptation.
Still, if the film is a success, perhaps that might inspire other studios to step up development on their own retro-science-fiction films in development and we might actually see long in development projects like Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers.