Classic pulp magazine character Doc Savage hasn't had much luck so far when it comes to the world of Hollywood. Most of the attempted adaptations failed to ever make it to the big screen, and the only Doc Savage movie that was actually seen by audiences - Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze - was both a critical and financial failure.
Back in 2010, Iron Man 3 director Shane Black was hired by Sony Pictures and producer Neil Moritz to direct a new Doc Savage movie. Those who have been watching the box office closely may have noticed that the movie has yet to materialize, and in fact it's been many, many months since we last heard any news about the project. There is a script in place, co-written by Black, Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry, but currently no actor attached to play the lead and no schedule set for its production or eventual release.
A new update from THR (the same one which revealed that Black is rebooting Predator) confirms that the project has been undergoing delays due to the fact that it's "grappling with budgetary issues," though Sony apparently considers it a priority. According to the report, Black isn't laying down on the job; he's "actively developing" Doc Savage and recently met with another member of the Marvel family, Chris Hemsworth, to discuss the possibility of him playing the lead.
Hemsworth is no stranger to conquering hero roles, having played the Norse god of thunder Thor in several Marvel movies and U.S. Marine Jed Eckert in the recent Red Dawn remake, but Doc Savage is a character who has a lot of brains to back up his brawn. In addition to being in peak physical condition, Clark Savage Jr. is also a genius scientist, inventor, detective and surgeon with a photographic memory. You'd think that was quite enough awesomeness to be getting on with, but one of Doc Savage's key character traits is that he's always trying to better himself.
Standing at 6"2' with very impressive musculature, Hemsworth easily meets the base requirements that Black laid out when he discussed casting last year. For those who need a reminder, Black is looking for the ideal man:
"They kind of gotta be tall. He’s the perfect physical specimen and when people look at him, they’re overawed by the sort of symmetry and perfection that he exudes... We need someone big."
Hemsworth certainly fits the bill, but right now the task of casting is probably secondary to the problem of getting a budget and filming schedule in place for Doc Savage. It's possible that Sony has been a little spooked by the box office disaster that was Disney's The Lone Ranger, another movie that was plagued by budgetary concerns and ended up costing over $375 million in production and marketing. The Lone Ranger's relatively paltry $260 million box office gross proved that studios can't just rely on good old American nostalgia to get audiences into theaters.
It could be argued that Hemsworth is now far batter known than The Lone Ranger star Armie Hammer (even having Johnny Depp as his costar didn't help Hammer), and that securing Hemsworth as the lead for Doc Savage will help the movie find an audience. That said, it didn't do much for Red Dawn.
We'll keep you updated on Doc Savage as development continues.