Shane Black is Directing Sony’s ‘Doc Savage’ Movie; Franchise Planned

Published 2 years ago by , Updated May 15th, 2013 at 12:47 pm,

Doc Savage as shown in the original comics Shane Black is Directing Sonys Doc Savage Movie; Franchise Planned

Marvel Studios’ latest addition to their cinematic universe, Iron Man 3, has netted over $700 million so far within the first week of its release, already more than either of the previous films made in their total theatrical runs, and while the audience response has been mixed on a few topics (the depiction of the Mandarin being one of the more controversial plot points), the overall critic consensus is that the film is a strong entry in the franchise and the financial success seems to reflect this. Our own review noted that, despite director Shane Black’s reputation for action movies like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 is probably the most personal and character-focused of the three movies.

Let’s move on from Iron Man 3, however, because that’s certainly what Black is doing. A new report suggest the director has already signed with Sony to co-write and direct their new action adventure movie Doc Savage, which is based on the character from classic 1930s and 40s pulp fiction novels and comics.

If you’re getting the odd feeling that this is old news, then you’re right. It’s over three years old, to be exact. Shane Black was originally attached to write and direct Doc Savage back in 2010, though the film itself had been in and out of the works for many years prior to that. The reason behind the delays is unclear, but according to According to The Wrap, Black is back aboard and producer Neal Moritz, one of the driving forces behind the Total Recall and 21 Jump Street reboots, is pushing the film into pre-production. Doc Savage now seems to be, as Moritz once described, a Sony “‘go’ project.”

Speaking on the assignment of director, Sony’s president of production Hannah Minghella hinted that the studio has big plans for Doc Savage, with intentions to turn the character into the basis for their next big franchise:

“We couldn’t be more excited to be building a franchise from the ground up with Shane and this team. Shane and Neal have a fantastic understanding of the character and a great take on the material and we can’t wait to get this production up and running.”

Robert Downey Jr Shane Black Iron Man 3 Official Set Photo from Marvel Shane Black is Directing Sonys Doc Savage Movie; Franchise Planned

From the ground up” is an accurate way of describing it. Doc Savage might have been popular in his own time, but the name is more or less forgotten in the current cultural landscape. To date, only one Doc Savage movie has ever made it all the way through production: the 1975 movie Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze, which was both a critical and financial failure.

However, there’s nothing like a fresh start to get a potential franchise up and running, and Shane Black’s involvement alone will be enough to pique interest in Doc Savage. If they set the movie in the original period it could make for a fun family adventure in the same vein as Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy, whereas a more modern retelling could turn out as a reinvented Indiana Jones. The Indiana Jones movies themselves were originally based on the kind of serials that Doc Savage appeared in.

The premise for the movie is also a good fit for the superhero genre that’s recently taken over mainstream cinema, since Savage is a superhero in his own right. His powers are similar to those of Captain America, in the sense that he was trained to a point of both physical and mental perfection, capable of kicking his enemies’ collective butts with nothing but his bare fists and then giving them a detailed lecture on quantum mechanics. He also varies from Indiana Jones in his dedication to the causes of goodness and morality, rather than lining his own pockets, and stringently adheres to a code of “do right to all, and wrong no man.”

With that in mind, let us know who you’d like to see in the role – and who you expect Black, Moritz and Sony to pursue for it – in the comments.


Iron Man 3 is out now in theaters worldwide. We’ll keep you updated on Doc Savage as the project develops.

Source: The Wrap

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
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  1. I thought Iron Man 3 was awesome the only thing that ticked me off was that i was dissapointed with what they did with the Mandarin but at least it looks like they had fun doing it and i’m for the most part getting over it and i plan to see it again some time soon because i was sick the day that i saw it and i think that took away some of the fun. Overall i think Black is a great film maker and i although i don’t know that much about Doc Savage i think the movie will be very good.

    • Re: the Mandarin stuff: alot of us were sick when we saw it….otherwise the film was not bad. Despite all the mandarin misadventures, a DVD buy for me.

      • I enjoyed the Mandarin twist personally. No idea why people caused such a huge fuss when Kingsley couldn’t have realistically….anyway…

        This sounds pretty cool. I hope this works so we can have a reboot of other pulp characters like The Shadow and The Phantom.

  2. Got a feeling this role could go to the rock.This seems like up his alley and he’s built for the part. Not a huge Dwayne Johnson fan but right now I would consider him a good candidate for this.

    • Not the right man for the job (The Rock). Check out the James Bama artwork to see what Doc should look like. No tattoos, no Latino features, different demeanor, etc. There are undoubtably better actors out there for the part.

  3. I remain a Shane Black fan. Hope this happens!

  4. I thought this said “Doctor Strange” and not “Doc Savage”….

    Will see this when it comes out.

  5. As if this comes as a surprise to anyone after Iron Man 3. Loved that movie, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Black is a heck of a writer/director, so you can bet I’ll be on board for this.

  6. I wanted to apologize to all the Doc Savage fans out there right now and let you know you have my simpathy. The only thing I can say is brace yourselves for the letdown of your lives

    • A little over dramatic don’t you think?

      • The statement *was* made from one of the worst Green Lanterns ever. It’s possible the world never realized how sheltered the boy was.

  7. Oh and just bc IM3 made alot of money doesn t by any means mean it was a success entry.

    • Actually that is exactly what it means!

  8. This to me is great news. In the 60-early 70s, I read every Doc Savage paperback when they came out. I still have #1-60 something. Cool, fun series set in post WWI.. This combined with Shane Black directing, Major wow. For those who are not familiar this was classic “pulp fiction in the 20s – 30s.

  9. IM3 was the worst Marvel movie of them all…Shane Black sucks…making the move to Sony is him running away from all the criticism for Iron Man…what a disgrace to the comic book genre…Disney realky screwed up with this idiot

  10. Are there any doc savage fans… … … Didnt think so. Last time a studio was already hyping a franchise from an old timey property was John Carter (of Mars) and look how that turned out.

    • Doc Savage has alot of potential if done right, in the correct style and time-period. If they could attempt it with The Phantom and The Shadow as sketchy test-runs, by now directors and writers should be able to get one right.

      • Let us not forget The Rocketeer. I still enjoy The Phantom from time to time. Time meaning half-decades, mind you. Haven’t seen The Shadow in a long while. You’re right in your original statement about maintaining the era and source material.

    • John Carter was agreat Movie ! Best of the year for me !
      So really looking forward to this ! Hope they keep the pulp style !

      • JC was good, but their plans for a franchise backfired on them do to the lukewarm (at best) reception of the film.

    • @Bellcure- to be fair John Carter wasn’t an accurate vision of the books or the lead character. As for Doc Savage fans there are quite a few! Like The Shadow, The Phantom and The Lone Ranger these older pulp characters must be handled by someone who knows and loves them to get the best elements to the audience. The biggest issue is what era will Doc work best in to get the most out of the source material. He’s a fun and exciting character with a team of friends that are fun ! Shane Black who is a fan, did a good job with IM3 but it actually played less like a Marvel comic and more like a Pulp novel. Doc Savage could be a huge franchise if done right .
      BTW if anyone’s interested there’s a very similar character, Hugo Danner in Philip Wylie’s 1930 novel The Gladiator. And if you want to know more than the basic stuff about Doc try DOC SAVAGE, His Apocalyptic life by Philip Jose Farmer.

    • I’m a doc savage fan…

  11. OK, I have been waiting for someone to do this for many years, so a couple words of advice from a long-term Doc Savage fan: use the source material as your guide. Lester Dent/Kenneth Robeson knew what he was doing. Make Doc and his band look just exactly like the James Bama artwork depicted him That means just like you would see on the old bantam books paperbacks that came out reprinting the stories in the 70s, I believe it was. Do it as a period piece. No sex scenes or cornball humor. Do not cast The Rock or Arnold Schwartzenegger or Tom Cruise or anyone else in the part who does not look the part. No nasty surprises like in Iron Man #3, which could have been a much better film if not for the Mandarin comedy of errors (it did have it’s good moments elsewhere in the film, tho).

    IF–this proves to come off as a great period piece, a franchise would be good, and I hope someone does the same with The Green Hornet, Jungle Jim, The Lone Ranger, and who knows, maybe someday Dark Shadows?! (The Rogan GH, Depp/Burton DS & LR do not count as much more than garbage for the most part, altho Lone ranger had a couple tolerable action scenes).

    • I was thinking Aaron Eckhart.

      • Nice choice. I was thinking his OHF costar, Gerard Butler

        • If memory serves me, there’s a common thread between Doc Savage and The Rocketeer in that some speculated the rocket pack was invented by Doc Savage. Eckhart seems like he could transition to that WWII-era and be credible as the adventurer, inventor, etc.

          • The more I think about it, the more I like that idea. Don’t get me wrong, I like Dwayne Johnson and he’s always fun to watch, but I wouldn’t buy him as a doctor of anything. A guy like Eckhart? Absolutely. He would have no trouble pulling off any of the facets of the Doc Savage character.

            • Also, he has great hair. :) I’m not sure if Hollywood deems him franchise-friendly but I’d sure be up for watching him in the role.

    • The 2 big issues will be -What era/time period? and Who will be Doc and the boys. I personally loved The Rocketeer and they did the time period really well. On the other hand The Shadow was bad with the cheap sets and bad plot, The Phantom had great Billy Zane energy it just didn’t catch with the ticketholders. Lester Dent/Kenneth Robeson should be the bible for the film especially in order to be period accurate. I would also add a bit of Philip Jose Farmer’s book to flesh it out once the franchise catches on.
      Now the hard part-WHO PLAYS DOC? -LARGER THAN LIFE IN ALL WAYS HAS TO BE THE KEY! Marvel pumped up Chris Evans for Capt.American and it was hit and miss from his film to The Avengers!Its the non-action scenes that are important -the intense almost brooding persona is very important! Hey if this works maybe we can get The Avenger too!

  12. I am looking forward to seeing what Shane Black will do with Doc Savage. I loved Iron-Man 3.

  13. sounds interesting …maybe Ryan McPartlin or Josh Holloway

  14. What this man could’ve done with a Moon Knight movie.

  15. I remember watching the Doc Savage movie a few times on tv when I was 6 or 7 years old(1982/83). I remember enjoying it but then again consider my age then. LOL.

    This a character that does intrigue me but then I do like the pulp era fiction. Some good stuff that can be useful to Hollywood if done right.

  16. I predict there will be a twist in the end: Doc Savage doesn’t exist! He is nothing but grandpa’s attempt to write a novel when he was still teenager!

  17. They’ll probably cast Terry Crews for the role of Doc Savage with all the political correctness going on.

  18. Indiana Jones was not about “lining his own pockets”, it was about saving antiquities from looters and preserving history!

  19. Perhaps Michael Fassbender as Clark Savage Jr.? Although Monk,Renny,Johnny,Ham and Long Tom will be equally important to the success of this endeavor…as well as an opponent of merit like John Sunlight. I can only hope that the powers controlling this would-be franchise recognize the value in doing Doc and his men justice. If produced with care, I believe a series of films would be VERY popular with a wide range of movie-goers. The technology and talent are available for this project and there is no excuse for not doing right by these wonderful characters and stories.

  20. I’m just happy we are talking about Doc Savage on film! The 1970′s version was made in an attempt to destroy a studio if memory serves me correctly. With Sony I am confident that they want to do things right.

    I was thinking of the actor who is on True Blood, his back story is he was a Viking seeking revenge for the death of his family. He is one of the main characters, sorry I can’t remember his name. He has the height, has a commanding presence, and is a good actor. He’d need to bulk up a bit for the part of Doc but I think he’d fit the bill.

    The Rock would be good as Renny. He looks like he could break most doors with his hands alone. Aaron Eckhart is an excellent actor. I think he’d be a good Ham/Shyster. He has the comedic chops and the action hero thing going on at the same time or Ryan Reynolds.

    The actor that plays Sherlock Holmes on Elementary would be a good Long Tom or Johnny.

    Jack Black as Monk? I know they may seem like crazy picks but I think they’d fit those characters well.

    Regarding the time period I love the idea of keeping it after WWI BUT I wonder if the audience would accept it. Captain America already had a strong fan base. I hate to say it, but probably a larger fan base than Doc would have. I love the nostalgia, loved the Rocketeer, the Phantom, and the Shadow with all their flaws.

    I would really like Doc to catch on and to be a franchise. SO, would it work if we brought Doc and his crew into the NOW. They could be brought together through Desert Storm or the more recent incursion into Iraq or Afghanistan instead of WWI, which most of our younger generation probably knows nothing about. OR they could start in their time period and somehow be brought into the future, our present. Just suggestions. However it is played I will be glad for the chance to make amends for the previous 70′s version.

    Doc could catch on and we could see a resurgence in others like the Avenger, the Spider, Miss Fury,etc. Currently MASKS is an excellent comic bringing back superheroes from that era that you might want to check out from Dynamite comics. Perhaps they could make small cameos as was done at the end of the Marvel movies leading up to the Avengers?

    Instead of frontal lobotomies for his former foes perhaps he could inject a “caring” gene that makes former bad guys into good guys. Or leave the idea out all together.

    Without Doc we don’t have the Fantastic Four and many other superheroes. Doc Savage Forever!
    Best wishes everyone.

  21. I have followed Doc Savage in print since the early 70′s. The cover’s of the paperback books portray a very powerful person, The covers from the original pulp magazines of the late 30′s look more like Clark Gable.
    I like the James Bama strong man paperback covers. “look at the cover of Doc Savage paperback The Monsters or The Men who Smiled No More.”

    Stalone is a little past the prime for a young Doc Savage, The fellow who plays in Murdoch Mysteries is not pumped up enough for Doc. Joe Manganiello a, superman hopeful, would make a decent Doc.

    The next question is story line: In the stories, There where the 5 aides. Renny,Long Tom, Johnny, Monk and Ham. Almost too many to bounce around a story line. As much as I have grown up with all these characters, we know that Andrew “Monk” and Theadore “Ham” are his 2 closes aides and the only ones to make it to the end of the original series.

    Start the film at the graves of the 3 aides and step up the story against John Sunlight (or an equivalent). The Monsters, Derick Devil, Whisker of Hercules, Cold Death, Giggling Ghosts, all fantastic stories that would have played well in the 50′s and 60′s would be a good start for a re boot.


  22. I will never watch another shane black movie again. He ruined Iron Man 3!

  23. Gerard butler should be doc savage