Friday, August 22, 2014

Men Of Action... Assemble! Bolan and Remo to Battle for Big Screen Bragging Rights?

You can have your superhero movies... this was a great week to be a card-carrying Man Of Action.

First came the announcement that the grandaddy of the men's action novel – Mack Bolan aka The Executioner – was in development (again) for the silver screen. Bolan has been a property of interest in Hollywood pretty much since Don Pendleton debuted the character in 1969's WAR ON THE MAFIA.

Still chugging along thanks to a dozen or so new titles each year, Bolan has drawn the attention of everyone from Steve McQueen and Sly Stallone to Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood and even Groot himself, Vin Diesel (that one I can't see). I even have several copies of 70s-era Bolan paperbacks with a flag on the cover trumpeting its imminent arrival as a "major film series".

Alas, the film series we all wanted never materialized – I'd still love to see a young, lean Burt Reynolds in the role – and I think fans had long given up hope of ever seeing Bolan on the big screen. Then news arrived that AVATAR sequel screenwriter Shane Salerno had obtained rights to the long-running series from the Pendleton estate and was pitching a gritty, action-oriented (though PG-13) trilogy showcasing the man who basically wrote the book for The Punisher.

While the news was met with enthusiasm by myself and fellow men's action lovers/Bolan fans, I think that we all were taking a cautious, wait-and-see approach given the series' lengthy flirtations with the silver screen.

And BAM! Like Bolan taking out a warehouse of oily thugs with a trusty rocket launcher we got word that not only had the trilogy found a studio with some background in the Men of Action market – Warner Bros. – but that the project had secured A-list talent in front of and behind the camera. Warner has locked up director Todd Phillips and – thanks to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – red hot Bradley Cooper as the lynchpins for what could be an action franchise to rival the Bonds and Bournes of the cinematic world.

Admittedly, I've grown to love Bolan – which wasn't easy after my first attempt at the character via the clunky TENNESSEE SMASH – so I'm thrilled to see him coming to a multiplex near me, in 2017-ish. (Which should coincide nicely with ER 53 featuring... MACK BOLAN!) But my initial thought upon hearing the news of A-list talent being attached to the character was the hope that maybe, just maybe, a blockbuster Bolan flick would result in Hollywood getting off their collective ass and making the movie I really wanted... a new Remo Williams/The Destroyer flick!

I've made no secret of my love for both Remo Williams (the book character) and the film REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS. In fact, our new issue – out soon! – features cover boys Remo and Chiun imagined by award-winning illustrator Neil Vokes. And if any series lends itself to our turbulent times with its blend of action, sci-fi, martial arts, politics, bromance and satire it's The Destroyer.

So color me shocked when I pulled up Facebook on my phone this afternoon as I sat on the beach and saw ER scribe John Grace crow "this is even better news than the Mack Bolan movie". Even as I shaded the phone with my hand and squinted through my sea-spray-coated specs I knew exactly what he was talking about – a new Destroyer flick was in the works!

But it wasn't just the news that Sony was planning a new Remo big-screen adaptation that got my brain going, it was the news that longtime Destroyer fan Shane Black was attached to direct a script co-written by series author James Mullaney (he co-authored #88: THE ULTIMATE DEATH and went on to author novels #111 through #131 as well as several installments of THE NEW DESTROYER series).

Though both projects are in the early stages of development – no casting has been announced for either project besides Cooper as Bolan – and it will be a few years before we see either on the big screen, this was a good week to be a fan of The Men of Action!

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