Iron Man 3 writer/director Shane Black has been in the news this week thanks to the announcement that he’s making a new Predator movie. Given his ridiculous talent and involvement with the original Predator, I’m definitely excited to see him revive the franchise, but there’s actually another bit of Shane Black news that’s got me even more stoked. Lurking in the same Hollywood Reporter story about the new Predator flick was a brief tidbit revealing that Black’s long-gestating Doc Savage is courting Thor himself — actor Chris Hemsworth — as its leading man.
Black has been trying to mount a Doc Savage movie since 2010, and while it might have just once seemed like a pipe dream, Iron Man 3’s $1.2 billion global box office has delivered a truckload of Hollywood clout right to Black’s front doorstep, and, even though Black’s Doc Savage is still trying to work out a budget, THR says Sony still considers it a priority. One thing that could only help push it closer to the finish line is having a leading man attached, and Hemsworth is damn near perfect for the role, to the degree that I suspect Black may have actually had him vat-grown specifically for the part.
For those unfamiliar with the classic pulp hero, Doc Savage was sort of like Indiana Jones if Henry Jones Sr. had been training Junior from birth to be an action hero. He’s a martial arts master with a photographic memory and a near-superhuman physique. He’s got Sherlock Holmes’ keen deductive mind, Batman’s crime-busting panache, and a resume that would make Buckaroo Banzai blush (and Buckaroo was very much a riff on Savage). In addition to the whole “saving the world” thing, he’s also an expert “physician, surgeon, scientist, adventurer, inventor, explorer, researcher … and musician.”
He doesn’t do all it all alone, however. He’s got his very own “Fabulous Five,” a team of cohorts whose areas of expertise include chemistry, law, engineering, archaeology, and geology. Oh, and they can pretty much all kick your ass into next Tuesday, should it come to that. There’s no telling how much of a role Doc’s sidekicks would play in Black’s new Savage movie, but even if it keeps the focus on Doc himself, this is a flick that could become the franchise many of us have been craving during the quarter century since the last good Indiana Jones movie. And it sure doesn’t hurt that Hemsworth seriously does look like he was bred just to play the Man of Bronze.
Doc Savage has been a passion project of Black’s for a while now, so I’m really hoping this thing comes together. For the longest time, Black was a guy you only really knew about if you followed the world of screenwriting, a wunderkind who got paid millions in the late ’80s and early ’90s to write crackerjack action scripts better than just about anybody else (Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight). 2005’s outstanding Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang reminded everybody just how good this dude could be, and I love that his career has made such a resurgence. A Shane Black Doc Savage movie would easily be one of my most-anticipated films in whatever year it came along. But once he’s done with that, is a Kiss Kiss sequel too much to ask now that Black and Robert Downey Jr. are kings of Hollywood?