One of innumerable franchises currently in the early stages of a reboot/remake treatment is the Perry Mason series, which really exploded in popularity when Raymond Burr portrayed the title character in a 1950s TV show version (based in part on Erle Stanley Gardner’s original novels). Robert Downey Jr. is producing the new PM movie and reportedly intends to portray the eponymous investigative lawyer onscreen.
It makes sense then that Downey and his fellow producers would employ a lawyer-turned-screenwriter (in the form of Marc Guggenheim) to script the new Perry Mason film, which will be based on an original story about the character as co-conceived by Downey and the president of his Team Downey banner, David Gambino.
Guggenheim (as THR mentions in its scoop) practiced as an attorney in Boston before he started writing for and co-running such TV shows as Law & Order, CSI: Miami, Eli Stone, and FlashForward. He’s also well-known as a DC Comics author, having penned The Flash comic books in recent years; he also received screen story credit for the Green Lantern movie and is both executive producing and co-writing CW’s upcoming Green Arrow TV series (titled Arrow).
That’s all to say: Guggenheim’s transition from writing superhero stories for the comic book medium to that of film proved quite bumpy (to say the least). To what degree that bodes poorly for his ability to go from penning captivating legal drama for the small screen to the big screen – that’s mostly a matter of opinion right now. Guggenheim will be receiving an assisting hand from Downey on the Perry Mason creative process which should help.
Downey’s tentative plan to also portray the new cinematic incarnation of Perry Mason makes his involvement with the project a bit of a mixed blessing. Not because the beloved actor seems like a bad fit for the part, mind you, but because it’s arguably overdone territory for him. After all, even someone as talented as RDJ can only offer so many clever variations on the “sharp-witted and arrogant rebel” character before he starts running in circles.
On the other hand – it’s the very idea of Downey portraying Mr. Mason that makes this reboot appealing to many a moviegoer, especially those who are not really familiar with Burr’s iconic performance as the character from back in the day. Plus, the new Perry Mason flick also has the potential to offer a more nuanced iteration of Downey’s go-to screen persona, especially when compared to the flatter versions featured in the most recent Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes movies.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of the Perry Mason reboot as more information is released.