Buck Rogers is a name that a lot of younger audiences might not immediately recognize. However, the sci-fi adventurer and his exciting world are almost a century old and the character is considered to be one of the forerunners of sci-fi pulp action. And now, it looks like he will be returning in a brand new feature film.
The Hollywood Reporter states that Legendary, the company behind such blockbuster productions as Kong: Skull Island and the upcoming adaptation of Dune, has closed a deal for the rights to Buck Rogers. The supposed plan would kick things off with a feature film that could then spinoff into a prestige television series as well as an anime adaptation. It sounds like Legendary wants to go all-in with Buck Rogers as a major science-fiction franchise.
Though the character of Buck Rogers dates back all the way to 1928 and has appeared in numerous forms of media over the decades, the most well-known version of the property is likely the 1979 motion picture and subsequent television series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. After the game-changing success of Star Wars in 1977, studios were greenlighting every science-fiction project under the sun. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was one of those projects. The show has maintained a cult following over the years but no other adaptation has been able to manifest in the intervening decades.
Part of the reason for that might have to do with other properties taking inspiration from Buck Rogers and finding even more success. As is often the case, the progenitor of a certain type of genre story can get lost in the shadow of its successors. Star Wars was able to combine elements of all the classic pulp sci-fi adventures into something that captured the imaginations of viewers around the globe. Now, trying to make a new version will probably have people calling it a “Star Wars ripoff” when Star Wars is actually a slight ripoff of Buck Rogers.
Frankly, Buck Rogers deserves another shot in the spotlight. The original character was a huge jumping-off point for the explosion of sci-fi pulp heroes in the 1930s. Probably the most well-known inspiration at the time was Flash Gordon who has also struggled to find new adaptations in the wake of Star Wars. Although, the 1980 film is a camp classic and deserves all the love it gets.
Will modern audiences be interested in a new version of Buck Rogers? The essential story is a riff on “Rip Van Winkle”: a modern man is stuck in suspended animation for centuries and awakens to a radically changed future. If the simplicity of that premise is what this new version uses as its motivation, there are limitless avenues to explore with a new take on the character and his futuristic world. We will have to see what plans Legendary has in store for the franchise. No director or writers have been tapped for the upcoming feature film. Once we hear of any significant developments with this new take on the classic sci-fi hero, we will be sure to let you know.