Dwayne Johnson has given an update on the Doc Savage film, which is due to be directed by Shane Black and see him playing the original pulp action hero. The movie has been in the development stage for at least eight years, and Johnson became attached to the project in 2016. There have been no official updates on its production status since then, and many presumed it had been abandoned. But Johnson has confirmed that it may still happen, and the reasons for the delay are not due to scheduling clashes or lack of interest.
Doc Savage - real name Clark Savage Jr - was the heroic character that appeared in the classic adventure pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. He didn't have superpowers but possessed genius intellect and peak athletic abilities, as well as a photographic memory. Stan Lee credited him with being a major influence on modern superheroes. Although he has been continually re-invented in comics and novels, his only big screen outing was the George Pal film released in 1975, with Ron Ely as the titular Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. It flopped badly, although other film and TV projects were attempted afterwards. Black first announced his intentions to direct a new movie in 2010, with a confirmation in 2013 that he had signed with Sony studios to make it. Chris Hemsworth was under consideration for the role, but then Johnson officially announced he would be playing the character. After that news, things soon grew very quiet on the project.
It's easy to assume that development had been cancelled, with all of Johnson's upcoming movies and Black's work on The Predator. But Doc Savage is still very much on The Rock's mind, and when he was asked about the film during an interview with Collider, he gave this response:
"That project had a few issues, not creative issues but more so business affairs issues — where the project once was, who had rights to it, where we were trying to move it to. There was a lot of that, which we’re still kind of working through. At the end of the day, Shane’s such a spectacular writer or director, but whether it’s that project or something else, we’ve made a pact that we’re going to work together at some point in our careers."
So it very much seems like the film was unavoidably delayed due to rights issues, rather than scheduling clashes or a lack of effort. Johnson also added that he'd had "multiple meetings" about the film with the director. It still remains easy to see the ex-wrestler in the role of Savage, and it would be great to see this much-loved character brought to the screen again.
In the meantime, Johnson has Rampage out this week, Skyscraper in July, and is due to start filming Jungle Cruise shortly. This will be quickly followed by the Fast & Furious spinoff in the fall, not to mention plenty of other queued projects. Whereas Black is still currently prepping The Predator. If the Doc Savage rights are resolved and an opportunity arises for them to get it off the ground, it could still happen. But it's unrealistic to expect anything in the near future. Whatever does ultimately happen with the Doc Savage film, it's very likely that we'll see them collaborate on a project of some sort in the next few years and we'll update you when that happens.