'The Toxic Avenger' Remake Almost Had Kevin Smith As A Director

Kevin Smith has built his career on his indie comedies, with occasional dips into bigger studio fare. The Clerks filmmaker recently revealed that he came very close to blending his low budget style with a big budget reboot in the form of a Toxic Avenger remake. Smith turned the gig down, however, due to disagreements over the material.The Toxic Avenger, the first superhero from New Jersey, has enjoyed cult status since his debut in 1984. By far the most famous creation to come out of zero-budget film studio Troma Entertainment, the film spawned sequels, spin-offs and a cartoon. And at one point, we were very close to a big Toxic Avenger remake, but the film has yet to materialize. On his Fatman on Batman podcast (via JoBlo), Smith revealed that he was one of the filmmakers approached to tackle the potential big budget remake of the low-budget film:

"[S]omebody asked me, 'Hey man, we've got THE TOXIC AVENGER and we're gonna remake it, do a reboot, and hey, you're from Jersey.' And you know, I always kind of dug what Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma people do, it was right in Jersey, I remember seeing them on the news all the time – 'Hollywood, motion pictures in New Jersey? Right here at Troma!' And TOXIC AVENGER was insanely well known. So I always respected the Troma world and Toxie franchise. So I was like, all right, I'll go down the rabbit hole a bit and see what's what."

Lloyd Kaufman is one of the co-directors of the original Toxic Avenger and co-founder of Troma Entertainment. Troma built their brand by churning out incredibly weird, incredibly low-budget movies that seemed tailor-made for cult status. Ultimately, the low-budget roots of the original Toxic Avenger are what kept Smith from taking on the remake. Smith says the producers wanted to turn the remake into a big franchise, and in Smith's mind the power of the Toxic Avenger brand lies within it's z-grade charms:

"I was just like, 'Part of the charm of the TOXIC AVENGER is that it was made for two nickels. If you're gonna do it again, don't spend a lot of money.' But they were like, 'No no no, it's a 35 million dollar movie.'...So right then and there, I'm clearly not on the same page. In my head, if I need to see a TOXIC AVENGER remake, it should be done in the spirit of the original. Instead, they were literally trying to start a franchise, Marvel-ize it and stuff like that. And I'm like, 'I don't know if you guys saw that movie.' So I just quietly stepped away. I understand what they were going for, but I would never want to see that version of the movie. It would be like somebody doing a 35 million dollar version of CLERKS. Why would you bother?"

Smith has a point: the original film, which focused on a nerd who falls into a vat of toxic waste and becomes a mutated superhero, is memorable for how deliberately terrible it is. To turn that material into a slick, glossy, big budget remake would definitely dilute some of its charms.

After Smith turned the gig down, Hot Tub Time Machine director Steve Pink signed up to make a PG-13 remake of the film, with big names like John Travolta and Arnold Schwarzenegger being thrown around as part of the cast. Last year, Pink left the project and Sausage Party director Conrad Vernon came aboard. There's been very little movement since then. We'll have to wait and see if this big budget Toxic Avenger remake sees the light of day.