It looks like Sam Worthington is going to have another block to bust and another tentpole to erect because he’s the first talent to be tapped for a new, big-screen take on Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future. If you don’t know Dan Dare, then I expect you simply aren’t English. He’s as famous over here as Tintin is, at the very least, but is probably even less well known in the US than that Belgian boy reporter.
Created in 1950, Dare is a comic strip hero that proved more lastingly famous than Eagle, the comic he appeared in, just as Judge Dredd is a bigger brand than 2000AD or Batman than Detective Comics. He’s been compared to Buck Rogers, and I suppose that makes a lot of sense. Can you see Sam Worthington in the role of a proud Brit fighter pilot? To me, it seems like a particularly good fit for him… well, accent aside.
And Pajiba, who broke the story, seem to agree.
After Margaret Thatcher… er… did what she did to Britain, it was time for Dare to be reinvented. The patriotism had to be dialled down a notch, to say the least, and Grant Morrison was just the man for the job. His take on Dare, though it amounted to only one storyline, is probably my favourite so far and saw the former space hero jaded by his exploitative government, reluctant to continue being pushed around as a pawn or abused by their propaganda efforts. However, everything about this aggressively political reinvention, particularly it’s nihilistic conclusion or it’s Soylent Green-topping subplot, pretty much rules it out as source material for any studio-funded franchise film.
More recently, Garth Ennis and Gary Erskine created a short series of Dare stories for Virgin Comics (see the image at the head of the post). They were neither the stiff-upper-lip, gung-ho-cheerio business of the original Eagle strips nor the confrontational revisionism of Morrison’s version, but they definitely skewed more towards the latter. Of all of the Dan Dares I’ve met in my comics reading life, this one seems the most in step with current fashions for the blockbuster movie. Maybe this is simply because it was created with an eye on big screen adaptation, like everything else that Virgin published.
Pajiba note that the film is now a priority for Warner Bros. so we should be seeing more action soon. If they haven’t already asked Ridley Scott to direct, I’ll eat my own bodyweight in Hovis. My prediction is that the key supporting players, from Dare’s sidekick Digby to Professor Jocelyn Peabody will actually be played by genuine Brits, and that the Mekon, Dan Dare’s huge-headed alien nemesis, will be a motion capture creation played by somebody at least as posh-sounding as Ralph Fiennes.