Amazing what one stellar franchise picture can do for a person’s career. Just take a look at Shane Black, Lethal Weapon screenwriter turned Marvel wunderkind following his efforts on 2013’s Iron Man 3; that film crossed the billion dollar finish line and scored highly among critics (despite striking controversy among fans), and in the wake of its success Black has been writing his own ticket through Hollywood. That Doc Savage movie he’s flirted with since 2010? It’s on the way toward production, and may yet star Chris Hemsworth.
Bully for Black, then, and his luck doesn’t end there either: he’s also working on that surprise Predator sequel nobody saw coming – yet another film that could incite an uptick in his clout if fortune favors its box office. Not a bad slate for a guy who’s only two films into his fledgling career as a director (following, of course, almost thirty years’ experience penning screenplays); his to-do list is growing more packed by the day, so what’s one more project thrown into the mix?
Hence, the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang helmsman is now taking on an adaptation of 1970s paperback series The Destroyer for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Arguably, the project is a reboot; in 1985, Guy Hamilton made a film based on the same set of books titled Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, which starred Fred Ward, Joel Grey, and Orange is the New Black‘s Kate Mulgrew, and strayed from its source material by a country mile. In a word, it’s terrible, which perhaps raises questions as to why it’s being remade in the first place.
But Black has an edge over Hamilton: his deep, abiding love for all things pulp, including The Destroyer. Unsurprisingly, the books are more colorful on the page than in the ’85 film. They’re nominally about the same character – Remo Williams, a hard nosed Newark cop killed in the line of duty, resurrected by a shady arm of the US government, and trained in the fictional Korean martial art by his master, Chiun – but the movie waters down the novel’s eccentric delights and winds up all the more boring for it.
Two decades and change ago, Black wasn’t even a blip on the map. Now, he’s positioned as the perfect talent to take the genre trappings of The Destroyer and give them a proper movie treatment. How far will he go with his vision? Remo and Chiun are pitted against a rogues’ gallery consisting of shapeshifters, psychics, Chinese vampires, and intangible Russian super soldiers; they even beat Hellboy to the punch by scrapping with Rasputin. At one point, Remo is revealed to be the avatar of Hindu deity Shiva. If that doesn’t give an idea of how bizarre The Destroyer gets, nothing will.
There may be restrictions as to how bonkers Black is allowed to get with his own film; odds are he’ll output something that more closely resembles Warren Murphy’s and Richard Sapir’s original work (and which also boasts his own staccato brand of dialogue). This is right in his wheelhouse; the results should be worth a gander no matter what. (And if nothing else, the film won’t be any worse than Remo Williams’ last cinematic jaunt.)
Given that Black currently has his hands full with Predator and Doc Savage, there’s no timeline as to when The Destroyer will make it to theaters. (Nor is there any word on if it’ll feature a Christmastime setting, or if they’ll cast an Asian actor to play Chiun this time around.) But for now, this seems like a good “one for me” move by Black.
We’ll keep you up to date on The Destroyer as info becomes available.