Get ready for a Doc Savage TV series. Wait…who the hell is Doc Savage? I’m SO GLAD YOU ASKED!
Doc Savage is one of the most important characters in 20th century pop culture, and perhaps the most important one you never heard of. One of the early 1930s boom of pulp and adventure strip characters, Doc Savage is an essential piece of superhero history, long before anyone had bothered to invent the word. You could say that Doc Savage, the Shadow, and Flash Gordon are the “Holy Trinity” upon which most comic book superheroes drew the most inspiration from.
Created in 1933 by Henry Ralston, John L. Nanovic, and Lester Dent, Doc Savage was the subject of nearly 200 pulp novels, most of which were written by Dent under the name Kenneth Robeson. The character, a physical and mental superman (lowercase “s” intentional) with an array of high-tech gadgets,a secret hideaway in the frozen Arctic, and a team of assistants who each specialize in a different scientific discipline, certainly influenced the creation of Superman, and bits of Doc’s DNA can be seen in Batman and even in seemingly unrelated later creations like the Fantastic Four. While Doc’s primary home has always been in novels, he has appeared in many comic book series over the years, and a 1975 feature film directed by George Pal, Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, which starred Ron Ely in the title role.
Deadline reports that “Sony Picture Television and Neil H. Moritz’s Sony-based Original Film have partnered with Conde Nast Entertainment” to bring a Doc Savage TV series to life. You might recognize Original Film from such comics-friendly TV shows as Preacher, Happy!, and The Boys, all of which boasted a certain fidelity to the source material as well as impressive production values.
Via Deadline, the Doc Savage TV series “will chronicle his adventures, featuring rampaging dinosaurs, secret societies led by dastardly villains, fantastic gadgets and weapons, death-dealing traps, hair-raising escapes, and plots to rule the earth.”
Yep, that sounds like Doc, all right!
Moritz will executive produce alongside Pavun Shetty, Oren Katzeff, and Jon Koa. Moritz had previously been involved in developing a Doc Savage movie, with Shane Black writing the script and Dwayne Johnson attached to star, but that project fell by the wayside, perhaps thanks to Johnson’s increasingly busy schedule. “I think we have a fun script. I’m dearly in love with it,” Black told Den of Geek back in 2016. “The thing it has going for it is the passionate remembrance and the clarity in my mind as to what this thing should be, what it ought to achieve.”
While it’s a shame that what certainly would have been a lively Shane Black Doc Savage script in the hands of Johnson as Doc would’ve looked like (not to mention how closely Johnson resembles the work of artist James Bama, who painted the covers of many of Bantam Books’ reprints of the entire Doc Savage library), the character might be better suited for TV anyway. It’s easy to imagine a quirky, big budget Doc Savage TV series (which will hopefully be set in the 1930s like all of his best adventures) capturing the imaginations of viewers, especially if the producers are able to bring a certain Indiana Jones flair to the proceedings.
So who could play Doc now that Johnson is likely out of the running? Well, before Johnson became attached to the role in 2016, Black had met with a relatively new-to-stardom Chris Hemsworth, who not only has the physique for the part, but looks an awful lot like how the character appeared on the covers of his original 1930s adventures. Maybe Sony should give him another look.
It’s of course far too early to think about a release date or where this one will land. But considering that it’s been 45 years since we last saw Doc Savage on the screen, here’s hoping it works out this time. Until then, we’ll leave you with Doc’s code, which we could all use a little of these days…
“Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it. Let me think of the right and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice. Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do. Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.”