Rumors of He-Man’s death have been greatly exaggerated. LatinoReview has word that Kung Fu Panda co-director John Stevenson might now be attached to the project after knocking one home in a pitch to Joel Silver’s production company.
Stevenson has an extensive background in art direction and animation, starting out as a character designer on The Muppet Show in the late 1970′s. He worked in visual development on The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth and was a storyboard artist of Shrek and Shrek 2. I loved the action sequences in Kung Fu Panda, but wasn’t a fan of the character design. It will be interesting to see what Stevenson will do with the adaptation. Is Justin Marks screenplay Grayskull still in play?
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You might remember that a few month ago, a review of Justin Marks‘ screenplay for the live action He-Man movie Grayskull: The Masters of the Universe was creating some big buzz on the interwebs.
Phrases were being tossed around like “fanboy masterpiece” and the story was described as “Lord of the Rings meets The Matrix meets Batman Begins.” It was enough to get us excited about the project – we even listed off five reasons the movie could actually be cool. And lets face it, “cool” is not even in the first 50 words that would normally come to mind when thinking about a He-Man movie.
Well Latino Review is now reporting that the project has fallen into development hell, and is likely dead. Warner Bros wasn’t high on the property in the first place (why hire a screenwriter then?), and the two executives who were interested in the property, are now gone. We can only hope that Warners decides to put the project in turnaround.
Immediately following a Devil’s Due panel in which he discussed the Hack/Slash adaptation that’s coming to the big screen, I had the opportunity to speak briefly with Justin Marks, the writer behind Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and the recently well-reviewed and much anticipated Grayskull: Masters of the Universe script.
During the panel, I asked him what he’s working on next, and he said that he’s trying to do a Children of Men-style sci-fi film. When I pressed him for more details about the script, he responded:
It deals with man’s exploration of the universe. I grew up on 2001, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 even, are movies that I kind of love, but they have kind of steered science fiction towards horror. I want to bring the genre of space travel back to contemporary science fiction. The movie starts with a murder in zero gravity and goes from there.
First of all, to me, this sounds really promising, and hopefully will represent a fresh take on the sci-fi genre from a younger generation writer. But secondly, I thought this was an interesting observation, as in my experience, a lot of sci-fi has indeed stumbled into the horror category. Even Alex Garland’s mostly-excellent film, Sunshine, had substantial horror elements well before the third act, which drove home the horror situation clumsily, yet unequivocally.
What do you guys think? Has sci-fi been heading too much for horror territory? Do we need a return to sci-fi purity in the movie industry? What are some examples that demonstrate your viewpoint?
IESB speculates that director Peter Segal, currently attached to helm a Shazam feature for Warner Bros., might also be the man who brings the studio’s planned tentpole, Jonny Quest, to the world as well for Summer ’09. Apparently the script by Dan Mazeau is quite strong and in better shooting condition than Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam. Moroever, the site spoke to Segal recently, who was enthusiastic about the latest screenplay, noted his involvement with getting a Quest flick off the ground in the past, and even discussed casting preferences (The Rock for special agent Roger “Race” Bannon). As you might recall, for over a year now Dwayne Johnson has been attached to play Shazam‘s Black Adam.
At the center of the Jonny Quest franchise is the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, about the titular young boy, his scientist father, his adopted Indian brother, a spastic bulldog, and a snowy haired special agent/bodyguard who hop around the globe pursuing epic cryptozoological and sci-fi adventures. Quest is one of several retro tentpole projects on Hollywood’s burner, including Buck Rogers, Spielberg/Jackson’s Tintin, the now filming Transformers 2, and another live-action He-Man flick (also buzzing loudly at Warner Bros.). Of course, the recent wipe-out of the similarly cheeky/mothballed Speed Racer is no doubt being taken into consideration when updating Quest.
Also of note: David Goyer‘s Supermax, which now looks to have broader box office potential after the success of Iron Man, has been retitled Green Arrow. The well-reviewed script, which sees Green Arrow facing off in a high security prison with DC villains like The Riddler, is by Justin Marks, who wrote the aforemenioned He-Man script that’s driving the Internet nuts right now.
Discuss: Is Jonny Quest the next Speed Racer or the next Transformers/Harry Potter? Is Segal a smart choice? Could Green Arrow be the next Iron Man?
El Mayimbe has a gotten his hands on a copy of Justin Marks’ He-Man screenplay, currently titled Grayskull: The Masters of the Universe. Okay, may-be the title needs a little work, but Mayimbe insists that the screenplay a “fanboy masterpiece!” Here are five things from the script that has gotten us excited to see this movie on the big screen.
1. This is not He-Man for kiddies! It’s written as a hard and edgy PG-13 film tinkering on the edge of an R-Rating. And remember, PG-13 is the new R. You can get away with so much more now-a-days, especially when set in a fantasy environment like Eternia.
2. The story is described as “Lord of the Rings meets The Matrix meets Batman Begins.” An epic battle for Eternia which begins with the origins of He-Man, Skeletor, and the Power Sword. Prince Adam has to “overcome his selfish need for revenge and realize his destiny for the greater good of his people” and “find the Sword of Light” in the hidden Castle Grayskull and “unify his kingdom.”
3. Included are Fan favorite characters Zodack, Mekanek, Man-at-armsS, Teela, Evil-Lyn, Trap-Jaw, Tri-Klops, Beast Man, Battlecat and Panthor. And best yet, Orko is no where in sight!
4. All the corniness of the animated series is completely GONE. There isn’t even a “single beat of comedic relief” in the entire script. Treat the property with realism, what a concept!
5. Grayskull is a geek’s wet dream, “the perfect marriage of Sorcery and Science fiction where in Eternia both Fantasy and Technology co-exist.” The script mixes “high tech, swords, and otherworldly creatures.” Imagine the possibilities!
I never thought I’d say this but I’m excited to see a live-action He-Man movie. It sounds like Justin Marks has done fanboys proud and has crafted a film with franchise possibilities. There is a lot A LOT more, I’ve only given you five little tidbits. Read the full script review over on LatinoReview
There must be something about this Justin Marks guy. A couple years ago he was a virtual nobody. Then one day David Goyer’s wife discovered him and the guy was instantly attached to Super Max, an original idea for a Green Arrow movie. And with that Marks somehow became the hot new screenwriter for geek movie adaptations. Fox hired him to pen Voltron: Defender of the Universe and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Warner Bros hired Marks for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. We’ve yet to see a produced feature film from Marks and yet he’s getting handed gigs left and right.
Rogue Pictures has now hired Marks to tackle a big screen adaptation of Hack/Slash, the popular comic book created by Tim Seeley and Stefano Caselli. The series follows a horror victim named Cassie Hack, who strikes back at the homicidal maniacs and serial killers, known as “slashers”. Marks take is said to be heavy on the comedy and horror. Todd Lincoln will direct. There is nothing evident in Lincoln’s experimental short films and standard television commercials (which can be seen at this link) to help me understand why this guy was hired for this (or any) project. He must have had one helluva strong pitch.
Discuss: Who should play Cassie in the big screen adaptation? Megan Fox? Scarlett Johansson? Sophia Bush? Eliza Dushku?
Toyfare Magazine has an interview in their latest issue with screenwriter Justin Marks concerning his adaptation of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Marks, who co-wrote the screenplay with Neil Ellice says that they have created “a take that we all really loved and that we felt would be true to Eternia for the first time.” Marks plans to reboot the franchise in the same way that Batman Begins rebooted The Dark Knight.
“There are no invented new characters plopped into it-and if we and Mattel have our way there will never be. We’re talking about the He-Man mythology. So what we’re talking about doing, in the same way as Batman Begins, we’re going back to the original thing, let’s build it from the ground up again. How can we find our way in? How can we jump into Adam’s life at an interesting point where new audiences will respect him? It’s an Adam origin story, and it’s a Skeletor origin story. We want to see where both of them come from and how they got that way. If we don’t see the humanity and the truth in what Skeletor’s trying to do, then the story’s not compelling.”
Marks successfully wades through questions, in an attempt to reassure fans of the series, months after rumors leaked to the internet caused major noise in fanboy circles. It was previously reported that Marks vision was going to stray far from the traditional He-Man mythology. But Marks says that is not the case at all.
“There’s some stuff going around…we should clear that up. There’s some rumor spreading that he’s a soldier in the Iraqi war. Where did they get that? This is an Eternian movie and it’s a story about an Eternian hero. We’re not going to Earth, here. We’re not going to the modern world. We’re not going to a strip mall in the Valley. [Laughs] By the way, I think there are really great things about the original Masters of the Universe.”
“He-Man is sword-and-sandals meets science fiction. If you avoid it and just try to make it sword and sandals, then it becomes a boring movie. If you just try to make it science fiction, it’s going to be really kitschy and weird, and it’s not going to be true to He-Man. You have to make it both. So we have to come up with specific ideas, grounded, that would spawn a world that was people carrying around swords, and yet, guys like Tri-Klops running around with his spinning visor and this sort of nano-technological way about him. What is the sorcery that can create stuff like that?
“When this movie comes out-and hopefully some day it will, because things look really stacked in its favor after Transformers-people will watch this movie and say, “I can’t believe it took this long for a He-Man movie to get to the screen,” because of how naturally the original material suits itself to a great, Lord of the Rings-scale-and yet high-tech-cool movie.”
Marks also revealed that he pitched the movie to Mattel as a trilogy of movies, a potential franchise.
“We got in the room and we basically spoke through not only one movie, but three movies, all the way down through our dreams for the titles for the second and third movies and which characters appeared when.”
Thanks to IESB for the interview transcript
Growing up a child of the 80′s, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was one of the shows I watched (along with many of the other series which are now pop culture nostalgia items on that VH1 show and in references on Family Guy). So it pains me to learn via our friends at IESB that the big screen adaptation of the cartoon series/action figure line is being handled so poorly.
According to Robert, “the current idea is to make Eternia here on Earth, kind of like a modern day Middle Earth.” He also painfully teases, “if you guys think that this Eternia on Earth stuff is disturbing, you should hear what the plan for Skeletor is!”
We haven’t read Justin Marks (Voltron, Street Fighter, Super-Max) screenplay, so we should probably should give him the benifit of the doubt. But from the information leaked thus far, it seems like they don’t understand why people liked the series. It’s the same thing that happens with most video game adaptations, and it was the same thing that ruined the original live-action Masters of the Universe film. Fans want to see all the creators and characters from their childhood in a new revamped Connan The Barbarian meets Star Wars type storyline. Treat the property with respect and the fans will come. If anyone has the Marks penned He-Man script (if it’s even exists in a script form at this point) please e-mail me.
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