Back in July we told you that producer Joel Silver was looking for a director for his planned adaptation of the DC Comics character Lobo. And much like the intergalactic bounty hunter himself, Silver has found his man in the shape of Guy Ritchie.
Variety is reporting that Ritchie will be making the film his follow up to his upcoming Sherlock Holmes, with cameras ready to roll early next year. The trade describes Lobo as –
[A] seven-foot tall, blue-skinned, indestructible and heavily muscled anti-hero who drives a pimped out motorcycle, and lands on Earth in search of four fugitives who are bent on wreaking havoc. Lobo teams with a small town teenaged girl to stop the creatures.
However, if that story synopsis raises an eyebrow, than you are probably familiar with the character. If so, the news that studio Warner Brothers is shooting for a PG-13 rating for the film should send all sorts of alarm bells ringing.
Although Lobo first appeared in 1983, he didn’t become a fan favorite until a string of one-shots and mini-series a decade later that were darkly comic and parodied the trend of broody and violent comics that had come to dominate the comic shop shelves, specifically Marvel’s own gritty, cigar-smoking hero Wolverine. The appeal of the character was the over-the-top ridiculousness of the violence and situations in which Lobo found himself. In one one-shot, The Lobo Paramilitary Special, the bounty hunter is hired by the Easter Bunny to rub out Santa Claus in order to become the biggest holiday icon. St. Nick, however, was armed and ready for Lobo’s arrival at the North Pole. (The comic was adapted by Scott Leberecht in 2002 while he attended the American Film Institute’s director’s studies program. The short film is embedded below.)
To take this character and try to fuse a rather generic-sounding story and give him a teen girl sidekick sounds like a terrible idea. It also brings to mind another fabled cinematic, comic book-adaptation disaster- Howard The Duck. The Marvel Comics character of an anthropomorphic duck trapped in a world of humans gained a cult following in the 1970s through his off-beat adventures that contained more than a hint of social satire. When the character was brought to the big screen in 1986, all of his sharp edges had been filed down dull. And the fans and ticket buyers in general stayed away in droves, Universal’s head of production Frank Price lost his job and Siskel and Ebert named it one of the worst films of the year.
Granted, fans of Lobo are only a small fraction of the potential audience that Ritchie and company will be shooting for, and the changes made for the film have probably been done to maximize that larger group. I also think that Ritchie’s kinetic style will actually work well with the material. But will that be enough to compensate for a film that may not live up to fans’ expectations? Will anyone want to believe that the toughest bounty hunter in the galaxy needs help from a teen girl? Does Ritchie have a potential hit in the making, or is he securing a more infamous place in the history of comic book films? We’ll find out in 2011, when Lobo hits theaters.