It’s been nearly 40 years since Doc Savage, one of the most prolific and influential pulp adventure heroes of all time, graced the silver screen. That’s going to change, as Shane Black is set to direct a new Doc Savage movie for Sony. Black also co-wrote a draft of the screenplay with Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry. And now they’ve found the perfect physical match for their title character in Dwayne Johnson.
Don’t know who Doc Savage is? Perhaps you should. Clark Savage Jr. is a forerunner of Superman (the incredibly strong Savage was heralded as “The Man of Bronze” in his pulp adventures), Indiana Jones, and James Bond (he was a brilliant inventor with an arsenal of clever weapons), and one could argue that his team of gifted specialists are forerunners of later super-teams like the Fantastic Four. Doc Savage first appeared in 1933, and went on to star in hundreds of novels and comic books, as well as 1975’s George Pal film, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, which starred former TV Tarzan, Ron Ely.
After a few little hints here and there, Dwayne Johnson has gone public with his interest in playing Doc Savage, via Instagram.
With all of the other projects on his schedule, it makes sense that the earliest they could get going on Doc Savage would be 2017. There’s little doubt that Johnson looks almost uncannily like the James Bama painted paperback covers that are the most well known interpretation of the character.
I have to love this excerpt from Rock’s effusive Instagram, though…
He is literally the master of everything. But here’s the #1 reason I’m excited to become Doc Savage.. HE’S A F*CKING HILARIOUS WEIRDO!Confidently, yet innocently he has zero social graces whatsoever due to his upbringing so every interaction he has with someone is direct, odd, often uncomfortable and amazingly hilarious.
It’s true. Savage was trained from birth to be “the master of everything.” But as a result, the potential for comedy is there. If you lived the first 30 years of your life doing nothing but strenuous physical and mental exercises surrounded by old me, you’d probably be a bit of a “weirdo” too. Playing up the comedy element of this will help differentiate Doc Savage from other superhero movies, and as long as it doesn’t veer too far into the self-aware (like the ill-fated 1975 movie), this could be a lot of fun.
Our own Ed Douglas spoke with Shane Black a few weeks ago and the subject of the Doc Savage movie came up. Black had confirmed some mutual interest with Johnson for the title role.
“We need a lead character and we’ve been pursuing a guy who says he’s very interested in doing it, he’d like to do it, and that’s this guy Dwayne Johnson,” Mr. Black said. “I think he’d play a terrific Doc. Here’s the problem. He’s really busy, so before I got to him, he’s got three movies lined up, so the fact that we had to wait is effectively what got me doing The Predator, cause I would have liked to do Doc but then that came along and I said, ‘Sure, great, good timing because we’re waiting for Dwayne Johnson to stop doing movies so we can get him for our movie, and hopefully that will be the next one.”
With Dwayne Johnson as Doc Savage, Sony could put together an Ocean’s 11 like team of adventurers to back him up. Done properly, this could be the franchise they’re looking for. Now we just have to see if this is set in the 1930s, or if it will be updated for the 21st Century.
This article has been updated with some new information to reflect Dwayne Johnson’s official announcement.