Warner Bros. Will Make a Mandrake the Magician Movie

March 14, 2012

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Hoping to turn another old franchise into something action-oriented that someone will misguidedly refer to as a "bromance," Warner Bros. is reportedly giving the Sherlock Holmes treatment to comic book hero Mandrake the Magician.

The studio just bought the rights to the comics character, created and popularized by Lee Falk back in the '30s, and plan to "give the character a 21st century makeover," whatever that means (more diving from explosions, a CGI shot through the barrel of a firing gun, etc.?).

For those not familiar with comic magicians outside of Harry Anderson: Mandrake's thing is that, through flamboyant gesture, he's able to quickly hypnotize people into seeing his illusions. He's sometimes called the first superhero, because he wears a cape and sort of has a super power, so, sure. Mandrake's other thing is that he is accompanied by BFF and huge African strongman Lothar, who wore a fez and a leopard skin toga. (In later incarnations, Lothar's outfit was refined to some kind of leopard print clubbing shirt, so presumably something like that will also be involved in the "21st century makeover.")

This won't be the first time someone has attempted to realize Mandrake as a real guy doing magic shit in a cape. In the late '30s, Columbia adapted the comics into a 12-part serial, and a 1979 TV movie again brought the character to screens--this time with an appearance from actual magician Harry Blackstone Jr., giving the production that magical authenticity only actual magician Harry Blackstone Jr. can provide. Rest in peace, HBJ. But as far as actual feature films go, the character has thus far proved hard to crack. Fellini is said to have tried an adaptation in the '60s, Michael Almereyda again in the '80s, and just a few years ago, directors Mimi Leder and Chuck Russell tried to get it together with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and later Hayden Christensen unconvincingly wearing a pencil mustache the title role. Still, Warner Bros. has one tool at their disposal that those other productions did not: the ability to blindly command, "Make this just like Sherlock Holmes, but with magic and an African strongman, please." Good luck with that, guys.

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