With superheroes having become a lucrative staple of the industry, studios are starting to burn through all of the most recognizable tight-bound crusaders. While projects based around Ant-Man and Deadpool are stuck in development hell, today comes word that Warner Brothers has gone deep into the annals of comics history to secure the rights to Mandrake the Magician, considered among the very first super-powered comic book heroes.
Summoned from the mind of “The Phantom” creator Lee Falk, Mandrake used his superior intellect and powers of hypnosis/illusion to foil the plots of such deliciously pulpy foes as arch nemesis The Cobra, master-of-disguise The Clay Camel, and his evil twin, Derek (who, despite the name, is also quite formidable). At his side throughout is Lothar, a former African prince who aides Mandrake with his near-unparalleled physical strength. Hit the jump for more.
Per Heat Vision, original comic distributor King Features Syndicate will be producing alongside Atlas Entertainment, who had previously been developing a Mandrake flick for a few years, and actually had a script from 12 Monkeys scribes David and Janet Peoples. At different points before that, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Hayden Christiansen were both attached to the project. But now that Warner Bros. is in the picture, they’re apparently going to start fresh, with hopes of infusing Mandrake with a Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes kind of vibe.
That’s somewhat disappointing, as I’ve got considerable affection for old-timey pre-superhero characters like The Phantom, and particularly The Shadow. It’d be great to see a pulpy throwback effort in the vein of the 1994 Alec Baldwin-starring version of the latter (though preferably, with a bit more beneath the surface). Either way, such an obscure character strikes me as a tough sell to audiences; I wouldn’t be surprised to see a prolonged ‘in development’ status in Mandrake’s future.