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Doc Savage TV series in development

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If there’s a classic genre of stories that I will always have a soft spot for, it will be old-school 1930s pulp adventures. The Shadow, The Phantom, Dick Tracy, The Lone Ranger, etc. I love them all both in their original serial format and in their eventual realization on the big screen. These were the precursors to modern-day comic books, and one character, in particular, is actually widely regarded by the likes of Stan Lee and co as the original comic book superhero: Doc Savage. And now this forerunner is going to be getting a TV series.

Deadline reports that longtime Fast & Furious producer Neal Moritz and his production company Original Film are teaming up with Sony Pictures Television to adapt “the Man of Bronze” for the screen. If all of this is giving you a flash of deja vu, that’s because way back in 2010 it was revealed that Moritz and Sony were developing a live-action Doc Savage movie written and directed by Shane Black. The Iron Man 3 and Nice Guys filmmaker struggled to cast the role of the physically perfect Doc Savage though… that is until he realized that we already have somebody with the perfect resume for the job in Dwayne Johnson. However, Black and Johnson revealed in 2018 that despite both of them being passionate about bringing the “World’s First Superhero” to a modern audience, issues with distribution rights and other business-related snags had stunted all momentum on the project.

Moritz and co have seemingly now ironed out those kinks, but in the process of development, the producer realized that Doc Savage’s extensive history – the character has appeared in a myriad of books, comics, radio plays, and even a rather hokey 1975 feature film – would be better adapted to the long-form storytelling of TV.

Created in 1933 by publisher Henry W. Ralston, editor John L. Nanovic, and writer Lester Dent (all operating under the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson), Doc Savage was conceived as an amalgamation of several popular literary heroes such as Sherlock Holmes and Tarzan. In his origin story, Clark Savage Jr was trained extensively almost from birth by a team scientists assembled by his father to be the perfect man. Boasting immense strength and endurance, a perfect eidetic memory, mastery of several martial arts, genius-level intellect and vast scientific knowledge, and a mastery of language and music, Doc Savage travelled the world as a physician, scientist, adventurer, detective, inventor, explorer, and researcher, righting wrongs wherever he found them. He battled everything from low-life crooks to demon-like creatures from the centre of the Earth. To call him a bit of an overachiever would be the understatement of the millennium. While the original pulp magazines gave Savage the appearance of just a dashing Hollywood leading man, when Bantam Books began taking over publication in 1964 – with the pseudonym Kenneth Robeson used for the group of writers – he was changed to a bronze-skinned man-mountain with exaggerated widow’s peak haircut, meant to cement his superman status even further.

Black and Johnson’s film had planned to keep Doc Savage in his original 1930s setting and even includes his classic companions, a group of soldiers, engineers, scientists, and legal experts who became known as the Fabulous Five. Whether this new TV series will be following suit is unknown at this point. There’s also no word on casting. With the time commitment a show like this would demand, I highly doubt the super busy Johnson could be enticed to still stay attached, even though he’s undoubtedly the perfect actor for the role.

Last Updated: February 20, 2020

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