Director Shane Black to Follow ‘Iron Man 3′ With ‘Doc Savage’

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

After taking Iron Man to new heights, director Shane Black has taken on his next challenge: bringing an enduring but overlooked hero of fantasy literature to the big screen.

Tuesday, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced they'd struck a deal with Shane Black to write and direct "Doc Savage," a new screen story starring the character who was a favorite in magazines, comics, paperback novels, and radio in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. A scientist, adventurer, and daredevil, Doc Savage, nicknamed "the Man of Bronze," could be described as a brawnier and more heroic version of Indiana Jones. Doc Savage was a man who tuned himself to physical and mental perfection, traveling the world with an entourage he called the Fabulous Five to thwart evil at every turn.

The "Doc Savage" announcement comes as Black's most recent effort, "Iron Man 3," earned a staggering $175 million in its first weekend in North American theaters. The movie opened overseas in late April, raking in $505 million in foreign grosses so far. Needless to say, Black wouldn't have trouble booking a new assignment after that sort of return, and Sony are clearly glad to have him in their employ.

Hannah Minghella, president of production for Sony, said in a statement, "We couldn't be more excited to be building a franchise from the ground up with Shane and this team. Shane and [producer Neal H. Moritz] 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.”

Black will be writing the "Doc Savage" screenplay in collaboration with Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry, while Neal H. Moritz and Michael Usland will produce through their company Original Films.

Doc Savage was the creation of publishers Henry Ralston and John Nanovic, who launched a magazine based on the character's adventures in 1933. Lester Dent was the writer who penned the Man of Bronze's best-known stories, though many of the tales were later published in a series of paperbacks under the name Kenneth Robeson. Despite the tremendous popularity of the Doc Savage character, Ralston and Nanovic's creation didn't make it to the big screen until 1975, when producer George Pal, the man behind 1953's "The War Of The Worlds," 1960's "The Time Machine," and 1964's "The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao," ushered "Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze" to the screen. While the movie has gained a small cult following over the years, it was a box office flop on initial release. Black's movie is the first will be the first time most movie fans will have been exposed to one of the great heroes of pulp literature, and it should be exciting to see how this project unfolds, particularly when it comes time to cast Savage and his cohorts.