Shane Black Talks DOC SAVAGE, Trying to Be True to the Character, and Finding a Tall Actor for the Role

     September 17, 2013


Shane Black has picked up a lot of clout after directing Iron Man 3.  Directing the year’s biggest box office success will do that.  His next project is an adaptation of the 1930s pulp Doc Savage.  The eponymous character has been described as “a mix of Sherlock Holmes’ deductive abilities, Tarzan’s outstanding physical abilities, Craig Kennedy’s scientific education, and Abraham Lincoln’s goodness.”  In a recent interview, Black says Savage is kind of a proto-Superman, and he’s trying to keep the “goody-goody” aspect of the character, but also aiming to go more in depth with his personality.

Hit the jump for what he had to say about his take on Doc Savage, and the challenge of casting the right actor.

doc-savage-coverSpeaking to IGN [via CS, who did the transcription], Black reiterated that the movie would take place in the 1930s, but elaborated on how they were expanding the character:

“So we kept it in the 30s, we beefed up the sort of rationale behind what it would take to be a perfect person and to be trained as such from childhood and how that would scar someone. And what it would take to be a parent who is capable of inflicting that on your kid. But beyond that we’ve also tried to be true to the series, give him the helpers and it’s also reinvigorating it but introducing a whole new brand of people to this is a challenge. It’s been around, it’s been 75 years.”

I’m a big fan of Black’s, and I like how he’s trying to provide some shading to the character but not ditch his good side for a “grittier” take.  I’ve been lobbying for some time that heroes should go back to being upbeat, and it looks like Black may be taking that approach.

doc-savage-bookHowever, there’s also the issue of getting the right actor into the role:

“Here’s the problem: 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. I don’t know that you could use like James McAvoy as Doc Savage. You couldn’t do it. He’s a fine actor, but we need someone big. Back in the day Schwarzenegger was talked about to play Doc Savage. I don’t know who we’d get.”

When the interviewer suggested Chris Hemsworth, Black responded “That’s not a bad idea. What’s he doing?”  Personally, I would suggest Armie Hammer.  Hemsworth isn’t a bad actor, but he’s a bit too modern (it’s why he fits so well in the 1970s-set Rush).  Hammer has more of a classic look, although I don’t know if he would line-up with Black’s previous statement of “Jimmy Stewart as a Stone-Cold Killer“.  However, actors are always looking to expand their images so they don’t get typecast, and I’d be interested to see how Hammer would fit into what Black is describing.  But if you’re looking for height, IMDb says Hammer is 6’5″ and Hemsworth is 6’3 1/2″, so Hammer’s got the slight advantage there.

Here’s the full interview with IGN:


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