I’ve been saying it for about a year now, and sure enough, pulp is starting to become a big deal again. The recent news that Shane Black is directing “Doc Savage” had me dancing around the house for days, since I love Shane Black, and I am a raving “Doc Savage” fanatic. I can’t claim the same level of affection for The Shadow as a character, even if he was closely associated with Doc during the heyday of the pulp magazines.
But sure enough, it looks like Sam Raimi’s longtime dream of bringing The Shadow back to life is one step closer to happening, and 20th Century Fox appears to be the new home for the film.
Latino Review broke the story today that Fox is planning to bring Raimi and director David Slade together on the project. Slade, of course, directed “30 Days Of Night” for Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures, and he’s currently finishing work on the newest film in the “Twilight” series, “Eclipse.”
So just who or what is The Shadow? Well, that depends on which version you’re familiar with. The best known incarnation was the radio show, where he was Lamont Cranston, a man who fought crime using mystical abilities he learned from the shadowy East, foremost of which was the ability to cloud men’s minds so they either didn’t see him or they didn’t remember what they saw. If you’ve seen Raimi’s “Darkman,” then you’ve already essentially seen his version of the character. Alec Baldwin played the character in the ’90s for a big-budget Universal film that was written by David Koepp and directed by Russell Mulcahy.
The real trick to getting this sort of material right is finding a way to make it play for modern audiences without losing touch with the essence of what made pulp so much fun. Colorful villains, outrageous danger, exotic locations, cliffhangers, and beautiful women in distress are all part of the formula, and if you do that sort of thing wrong today, it just lays there. Do it right, though, and I’d argue it can still connect with the mainstream just as much as it did when the original pulp magazines flew off of newsstands.
I don’t think there’s an audience out there begging for new adventures of The Shadow, but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. It just means that they need to treat it like a new character and educate the public, using great trailers to do the trick.
First things first, I hope Slade and Raimi find a Shadow story worth telling. If so, it could absolutely be a lot of fun.