Last fall, we reported that Shane Black was the latest screenwriter to make an attempt at scripting a big screen adaptation of the classic pulp hero Doc Savage. Now, Variety is reporting that Black will be assuming directorial duties on the project as well. The Variety story also states that Black, who created the Lethal Weapon franchise, is working on the script with writers Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry. The story will be an original adventure and not an adaptation of one of the 181 novels written mostly by Lester Dent and published by Simon and Street between 1933 and 1949 under the pseudonym of Kenneth Robeson. Neal Moritz and Ori Marmur, who are also spearheading the upcoming old-time radio hero Green Hornet feature with Seth Rogen, are producing for Columbia Pictures.
Black is an interesting choice, both as writer and director. With a writing resume that stretches from the light-hearted adventure The Monster Squad to the noir-ish The Long Kiss Goodnight, he certainly has the writing chops for the material. Although it wasn’t widely distributed, his 2005 debut film as a director, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang starring Robert Downey Jr., received positive reviews. Additionally, Variety states that Black has a vast collection of detective books and pulp fiction, which should definitely give him an idea of the appropriate tone for the film.
A previous film attempt in 1975 from producer George Pal starred Ron Ely as Doc. While the casting of Doc and his five aides was pretty good, the story itself attempted to cash in on the already faded craze for camp started by the late 60s Batman television series. Needless to say, it was a flop.
It seems as if it is a good time to be a Doc Savage fan. (And I am.) In addition to this film project rolling forward, the pulp hero and his team of adventurers will be starring in not one, but two comic book series from DC Comics in the upcoming months and his original pulp adventures are being reprinted by Nostalgia Ventures/ Sanctum Books.