Shane Salerno nabs “The Executioner”

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Avatar 4 co-writer Shane Salerno has obtained the movie rights to evergreen pulp action character Mack Bolan, “The Executioner” and all his related series. Originally created by the late Don Pendleton and first published in 1969, Mack Bolan is still fighting the good fight with the books featuring Bolan, and his spin-off series Able Team, Phoenix Force & Stony Man, now totaling over 900 (yes, 900) books.  This is the latest attempt to bring the character to life, with previous attempts featuring the names of Steve McQueen, Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone & Vin Diesel all being linked to the character at some point, but never quite getting there.

The character was initially introduced as a sniper during the Vietnam War but:

“During his tour of duty, Bolan was called home on emergency leave to bury his family, who were killed by their father, Sam Bolan, in a triple-murder/suicide. Upon his return home, Bolan learned loan sharks from a local branch of the Mafia family forced his sister Cynthia into a life of prostitution to pay back the family debt. Upon learning the news, his father could not bear it and committed the horrendous act. Only Bolan’s 14 year old brother Johnny survived his wounds.

Bolan realized that the real enemy was not in the jungles of Vietnam, but at home. The Mafia’s schemes affected everday innocent civilians such as his own family. Using the tactics he learned during his military combat, Bolan refused to return to Vietnam and instead took his war to the Mafia. City by city, he strikes ruthlessly to bring down the mafia and to clean the country of this horrific criminal organization. His actions would divide opinions. Some government and law enforcement officials were pleased with his efforts, while some sought to bring his war to an end.”

If you’re thinking that sounds very similar to Marvel’s “The Punisher”, Bolan was actually one of the character’s influences during his creation.

Following the 37 books written by Pendleton (38 in the Mafia arc) Bolan was offered amnesty by the US government in turn for his services in fighting a new war against terrorism, and where the series was taken over by numerous ghost writers. This also sounds like the starting point for Salerno’s take on the character as he wants to create a “relevant, grounded and gritty, real-world PG-13 action-drama film series.”

As someone who read quite a few of these in his youth (don’t judge me for my guilty pleasures!) I’m not too sold on the PG-13 rating as the Bolan certainly doesn’t skimp on the violence or lend himself to much humour. Hopefully though we’ll be able to see the long-serving former Master Sergeant receive some mercy (hah!) himself and finally debut on the big screen where he belongs.

And now I’m tempted to venture into my decade-long unopened book storage cupboard and dig these out again… decisions, decisions…

Last Updated: August 18, 2014

Trevor Davies

I like pie, I think.

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