Mark Wahlberg is the star of one of the biggest movies of the summer, Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. Since its opening on June 27, Age of Extinction has raked in over half a billion dollars, so robots are clearly a good thing for Wahlberg’s career. But now that he’s a certified big-screen action hero, where does he go from here? Well, rumor has it he might take on another classic property, and a character who’s part robot himself: The Six Million Dollar Man.
Hollywood has been trying to get a Six Million Dollar Man movie together for ages. Kevin Smith wrote a script adaptation back in the ’90s, and over the years various actors have been rumored for the lead role, including Chris Rock, Jim Carrey, and Leonardo Di Caprio. The revolving door of directors has including Todd Phillips and Brian Singer. Now The Tracking Board reports that Wahlberg is the latest to be courted for the role of Steve Austin, an astronaut who is rebuilt with all manner of fancy cybernetic technology after a terrible crash. Peter Berg is aboard to produce this latest stab at a Six Million Dollar Man movie, along with Harvey Weinstein, and The Tracking Board says Berg may direct as well.
Lee Majors played Austin in the original 1973 series, which ran for five seasons, and in several reunion TV movies. The series was actually based on Martin Caidin’s 1972 novel Cyborg, which went on to spawn three more book sequels. The show also had its own spin-off, the 1976 series The Bionic Woman (which was itself remade into a short-lived 2007 series starring Michelle Ryan).
As you might have guessed from the earlier actors and directors listed above, the Six Million Dollar Man adaptation has swung back and forth between a straightforward action movie and an action/comedy, depending on which iteration you’re talking about. It’s hard to be sure what sort of tone this latest version will be aiming at, but I’m guessing they’ll be playing it more serious. Berg’s past movies include Lone Survivor (which starred Wahlberg), Friday Night Lights, Hancock, and — yikes — Battleship. Not a lot of funny on that list. Wahlberg, on the other hand, has proven himself a solid dramatic actor who is also surprisingly good at comedy when he’s got the right material, such as Ted or The Other Guys. Of course, he’s also had his moments of unintentional hilarity — remember The Happening?
Honestly, this project has been through so many different incarnations, I’m not holding my breath we’ll ever actually see it on the big screen, but you never know. If nothing else, Age of Extinction’s box office just earned Wahlberg some extra clout, so if it’s something he really wants to do, that might help push it along. If so, they’ll presumably do what was rumored for the earlier versions and account for inflation, turning The Six Million Dollar Man into a more plausible Six Billion Dollar Man.
And if you’re curious about what Kevin Smith’s take on Steve Austin would have been like, you can check out his Dynamite Comics series The Six Million Dollar Man: Season Six, which picks up right where the TV show left off.