Pulp novels to get new life with Doc Savage film

Cover to a 1964 re-issue of Doc Savage: Man of Bronze

Cover to a re-issue of Doc Savage: Man of Bronze

Pulp magazines, which influenced both comic books and Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, are about to get some new life, thanks to a new film version of Doc Savage with Dwayne Johnson.

Johnson announced the movie, to be directed by Shane Black, via his Instagram account. That prompted stories on Deadline: Hollywood, Entertainment Weekly and Birth Movies Death among other places.

Pulps (as they were commonly called) were inexpensive publications including the exploits of heroes who experienced outlandish adventures.

Doc Savage, according to Wikipedia, was the subject of Doc Savage Magazine, which ran from March 1933 to summer 1949. Other pulp heroes included The Shadow and The Avenger.

As we’ve written before, Ian Fleming 007 novels had pulp influences with larger than life villains such as Dr. No and Goldfinger.

Pulps also were forerunner of comic books, which took off when Superman debuted in 1938, Batman in 1939, the Sub-Mariner and Human Torch in 1939 and Captain America in 1941.

Doc Savage was a master of all trades with multiple sidekicks. In the 1970s, movie producer George Pal, whose credits included the 1960 version of The Time Machine, thought it was time to bring Doc to the big screen.

Thus, Doc Savage: Man of Bronze came out in the summer of 1975 with Ron Ely as Doc. It was directed by Michael Anderson, who had helmed 1956’s Around the World in Eighty Days.

Like James Bond movies of the era, the end titles of Doc Savage: Man of Bronze included the title of the next film adventure. Unfortunately for Doc, the movie didn’t do well enough at the box office to merit a second film.

It remains to be seen how well the new Doc movie will fare. But, for now, the announcement is pumping new life into the pulps.


One Response

  1. Handled properly, this could be the beginning of a whole new style of movie property as big as when Marvel launched IRON MAN in 2008.

    But there are many ways to handle this WRONG. One of which would be to try to make Pulp hero movie like comic book movie. There are tonal and stylistic differences that are critical to get right so the viewer can enjoy what made pulps so popular and absorbing.

    Raiders of the Lost Arc was in the style of the pulp magazine stories, and that never feels like a comic book.

    Fortunately, so far Shane Black is saying all the right things to suggest that he understands what makes a pulp adventure special, and will do his best to keep his DOC SAVAGE film on track to faithfully portray that

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