New Jersey’s first superhero is being recycled, and it seems like only the truest fans are going through the trash. Legendary Pictures is remaking Troma Entertainment’s 1984 superhero splatter comedy, The Toxic Avenger. Directed by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, who wrote the screenplay with Joe Ritter, the original is a campy and violent low budget B-movie which became a cult phenomenon after midnight showings at the West Village’s Bleecker Street Cinema. It spawned a franchise, a cartoon, a Broadway play, and a legion of dedicated fans. Legendary’s remake was first announced in 2019 with Peter Dinklage attached.
“The movie has been shot,” Troma co-founder Lloyd Kaufman tells Den of Geek. “I went over to Bulgaria, and it looks like they did a great job.” The co-director of the original, and co-founder of the iconic shoestring-budget Troma studio, found immediate improvements too.
“The Toxic Avenger reimagining script is definitely better than the original Toxic Avenger,” he proclaims.
The reboot is being directed by Macon Blair, who apparently was Tromatized growing up.
“I was only there for a few days, but the director is all about Troma,” Kaufman tells Den of Geek. “He knows every movie. He’s seen Terror Firmer, I don’t know how many times he’s seen that, Tromeo and Juliet. He’s seen every obscure Troma movie.”
Kaufman is equally excited about the commitment of the players. “You can’t have a better cast than Peter Dinklage, Kevin Bacon, Julia Davis, from England, terrific,” Kaufman says. “A major, major, major talent. She’s not as famous as Elijah Wood, but she has a show called Sally4Ever. And they clearly watch Troma movies.”
The title role will be played by Dinklage, whose blind faith in a dragon MILF led to some questionable decisions on HBO’s Game of Thrones. In The Toxic Avenger, his Melvin Ford (who was played by Mark Torgl in the original) is a regular janitor until he tumbles headfirst into a vat of hazardous waste, mutating him into The Toxic Avenger.
“Toxie is the ultimate underdog,” Kaufman explains. “He’s not a superhero; he’s got a mop and he can jump. That’s it. He doesn’t have all the fancy-schmancy stuff, but he’s heavily influenced by Stan Lee, who was a close friend for over 50 years.”
With high-powered detergents, a badass attitude, and an oddly flattering pink tutu, Toxie takes on the dirtiest job of all. He tries to clean up New Jersey. But the groundbreaking, forward-thinking, environmental warrior never got the respect of more metropolitan marvels.
“A lot of 13 year olds have reverence for Spider-Man,” Kaufman says. “But you go to a convention, and hang out at our booth, there’s a line all day. We have a small cult following though, 98 percent of the world never heard of the Toxic Avenger. So wait until the big movie comes out. I think the fans are going to be very, very happy with this $200 million movie.”
Legendary Pictures is known for blockbusters like Dune, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Krampus, and the recent Hollywood Godzilla movies. Between that visibility and the sixth-degree connections which Bacon, who plays the film’s villain, brings to the reboot, this could add up exponentially for both movie houses.
“It may open up a bigger public for our own four Toxic Avenger movies, and the Toxic Crusaders cartoon show, and the Broadway musical that’s still traveling around the country,” Kaufman enthuses. “It could be a very good thing, not just for Troma, but for the whole movie industry.”
Kaufman made his remarks while talking about his new film #Shakespeare’s Shitstorm, which may be his last. It’s always appeared unnamed larger names in the entertainment world have been waiting for him to put down his camera with gleeful anticipation.
“Not just us, but the entire industry has evolved in a way that totally crushes any form of independent thinking or creativity,” Kaufman says. “It’s not just people like me, but the whole system is against any kind of individual spirit. We have free speech in this country, as long as we don’t say anything, and I continue to say stuff. I think Troma was the last real independent movie studio. We’re certainly the only one in history that has gone on for 50 years. We’re the herpes of the movie industry where we’re not going away.”
Kaufman will continue producing, and Troma will continue creating and distributing films of all genres. There is no Toxic Avenger reboot release date set.
#Shakespeare’s Shitstorm is playing in select theaters while on tour now.