Warner Bros. Summons Mandrake the Magician to the Screen

By on March 16, 2012

Bereft of low hanging apples to pick from, Warner Bros.; like most studios; are always on the look out for the next easy title to option. This time they turning to the old media, newspaper comic strips. Mandrake the Magician, a comic strip created by Lee Falk; who also created the Ghost Who Walks, the Phantom; in 1934 centers around an illusionist with the power set of speed hypnosis; with but a gesture, he can create illusions real to his foes. Warner Bros. Has picked up the movie rights to this old time comic with Atlas Entertainment to produce, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

As the strip was created and published in 1934, Mandrake is arguably the world’s first comic superhero. If anything, the hypnotist with the fast hands did it’s part in inspiring the golden age of comic books that started in the late 1930’s; like when Alan Scott was the sentinel of the magical Green Lantern.

Mandrake is assisted by his strongman companion, Lothar who together fight various villains. This must have been when creating a comic book character was easy and considered original to do. As the forerunner, Falk could create disposable villains like gangsters, mad scientists, dimension hoppers or aliens. Falk even got ahead of the curve, conjuring up an Evil Twin brother for Mandrake; was his name Mandark? Current day comic book villains are easily borrowed and interchanged amongst superhero rogue galleries.

Hollywood has long tried to capture the elusive Mandrake for the movie screens. Back in 1939 when superheroes were the glittering blood sucking genre, Columbia Pictures made a twelve part serial, and a made-for-television movie in the 1970s. That’s the closest the Mandrake has come to hitting the big screens since.

Disney; the owner of Marvel Comics; had the rights to Mandrake for a while, but the most recent holder of the property was Baldwin Entertainment and Hyde Park who tried their hands at developing an adaptation Chuck Russell and Mimi Leder were to direct, staying Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Hayden Christensen. Atlas Entertainment became involved with the project in 2009, going as far as to develop a script with David and Janet Peoples; they made that weird time travelling movie about 12 Monkeys.

This won’t be the first time that a movie has been successfully turned into a movie. Touchstone Pictures did well with Dick Tracey back in 1990. The concept of miniaturized video conferencing technology was stuff of pulp science fiction back then. Now we have it built into our cellphones. I wonder what Mandrake will show us about the potential future to come.

Warner Bros. Is looking for a 21st century makeover, hopefully going towards another bromance actionfest like Sherlock Holmes. As long as it doesn’t turn into an update like they did with Jules Verne’s books like the Journey series of movies. If it does, they might as well cast that Mindfreak magician to play the part of the updated Mandrake.

I’m sure  plum  excited about this movie and can’t wait to see it.

Who do you think should play Mandrake in the movie?

About Leo Choy

Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Leo Choy stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Leo can see and hear. And so, Leo finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.

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