It’s no secret that Doc Savage, Lester Dent’s pulp hero from the 1930s and 40s, is a huge inspiration for my own character, Dr. Spartacus Wilde (who saves the Earth from Lovecraftian batrachia in Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom). I grew up on paperback reprints of the Doc Savage novels and they, along with other pulp sources I’ve written about, are strong strands of my literary DNA.
In fact, Grandpa Wilde (Spartacus’s father), the original Doc Wilde who was famous in the thirties and forties, is my intertextual acknowledgment that the original hero is parent to the current hero, but also speaks to the fact that the younger Wilde is his own man. As similar as he is to Savage, he is also very different in ways, not least of which is that he is a warm, emotionally accessible family man, unlike the stern and remote man of bronze.
Unlike The Shadow, the only character more popular during the pulp era, Doc Savage isn’t very well known these days, though his influence on characters ranging from Batman to James Bond is widespread. But there are still quite a few fans, many having grown up on the same books I did. One of them is Shane Black.
Shane is the writer responsible for Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, The Monster Squad, and other films, including his directing debut Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (which is smart and fun and has wonderful performances by Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan, and you need to see if you haven’t). He has also acted in a few films, including As Good As It Gets and Predator (as the dirty-joking Hawkins).
I used to know Shane, though I fell out of touch with him years ago. He gave me a lot of encouragement and is one of the folks I thank on the acknowledgments page of the first Doc Wilde book. I also mentioned Shane in a blog post last month about my close call with Hollywood via a script I wrote with Steve Antczak called Blood of Eden (which can be read at the link in the sidebar to the right).
In an interesting bit of synchronicity, just under two weeks later Harry Knowles at Aint It Cool News reported that he’d run into Shane at a bowling alley, and Shane told him he was writing the script for an upcoming Doc Savage film. The movie will be an original story, set in the thirties, not updated to modern times. Later reports identified Neil Moritz and Ori Marmur as the producers, and Sony as the studio. And the possibility that Shane may actually be directing the flick as well.
This is awesome news. There was a terrible Doc Savage film in the seventies, and there have been various attempts over the years to make a presumably better one, including one to be written and directed by Frank Darabont and to star Arnold Schwarzenegger as a miscast Doc. Those projects all fell through. Hopefully this one won’t. Shane is a marvelous writer and director, with a keen wit, a wonderful sense of character, and a mastery of action set pieces.