Disney Plots Charles Darwin Adventure Movie

For many, the image of Charles Darwin, naturalist, geologist, and author of On the Origin of Species, is etched in stone as the visage of a heavily bearded old man, thanks to images like the one above. The idea of that guy becoming the central figure of an action/adventure film is pretty laughable.

But what about the younger Darwin, who took part in a five-year ocean voyage, making observations which eventually led to his most prominent writing? That guy could easily be the center of an adventure film, such as the one Disney is now developing based on a story pitch.

Deadline reports that Disney is now developing a Darwin movie based on a pitch by Stephen Gaghan (writer, Traffic; director, Syriana), who is also writing.

The precise thrust of Gaghan's pitch is unknown, but we can assume it will be based not in the author's later years, but on the 1831-1836 voyage of the HMS Beagle that took Darwin around the world. Such a voyage could easily be a great basis for an adventure movie, and the opportunity to explore Darwin as a character would be a bonus.

This idea leads to many questions. Not least among them is how Disney, as one of the biggest entertainment companies, will represent a figure whose writings, despite being fully accepted as part of a core of scientific thought, are still considered as contentious concepts in some corners. Arguments about the validity of evolutionary science somehow, astoundingly, persist, and that's not exactly the sort of material Disney typically gets involved in.

(That said, Disney does have an entire label, DisneyNature, devoted to films that advocate for awareness and conservation of animal species.)

If this film is indeed about the Beagle voyage, it won't be a film about evolution, exactly, but it will hopefully focus on the beginnings of Darwin's concepts, and the development of scientific thought at that time.