Sony Pictures is looking for a new superhero franchise that has nothing to do with Spider-Man, Venom, or anything in between. So enters One Punch Man, a popular Japanese manga that is about to get the Hollywood big screen treatment. And if you have any doubt of what that means, know that it’s being produced by Avi Arad of Arad Productions and with a screenplay from Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner.
The announcement, which was broken by Variety, revealed the project is getting the high priority treatment at Sony and Columbia Pictures with the aim of birthing a new franchise that is not based on a Marvel Comics character. The series was created by Japanese artist ONE as a web comic in 2009 before quickly going viral. It entered print in 2012 under Shueisha’s Young Jump Next with illustrations by Yusuke Murata, as well as ONE, before being translated into English in 2015. Yet even before entering Western markets in earnest, it sold 30 million copies in the early 2010s, and then saw its first two English language volumes, published by VIZ Media, appear on the New York Times manga bestsellers list, going on to be nominated for an Eisner and Harvey Award.
One Punch Man follows a superhero named Saitama, who can defeat any opponent with a single punch, hence the name. However, he’s grown bored with criminals that can be so easily dispatched and thus quests not only to defeat an evil that is a worthy opponent and who will offer an actual challenge.
Rosenberg and Pinkner are popular at Sony after penning Venom, which grossed over $850 million worldwide. The press statement also notes they worked on the two new Jumanji movies, which has become one of the most popular family franchises of recent years, albeit 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle had eight credited screenwriters, including Community’s Chris McKenna coming up with the body-swapping concept. Other screenplays Rosenberg and Pinkner have attributed between them include High Fidelity, Kangaroo Jack, Gone in 60 Seconds, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Sony’s The Dark Tower adaptation. Their most recent film, Jumanji: The Next Level, which they co-wrote with director Jake Kasdan, grossed $796 million worldwide.
While there is no director attached, one might speculate the success Sony had in Venom and Jumanji with a light, self-deferential tone could be similarly applied to this material.
The sequel to Venom, meanwhile, has been officially retitled Venom: Let There Be Carnage and has been delayed eight months to June 25, 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. That film was written by Kelly Marcel (Saving Mr. Banks, Fifty Shades of Grey).