Adapting a pulp fiction hero onto the big screen today is no easy task. While current classic superhero adaptations set to the modern age are receiving positive pre-release reception, writer/director Shane Black is set on making Lester Dent's Doc Savage faithful to its original source.
In a recent interview with IGN, Black explained why Clark Savage Jr. isn't a character who you can place in a modern setting. He said:
It has to be. I'm not going to do it otherwise. And if it doesn't happen for that reason it doesn't happen. People say ‘Well, we have all these tie-ins we want to do with merchandise and we can't do them if it's 1930s, can't you make it present day? He'll fight Al-Qaeda.' No! That's not who Doc Savage is. What sets him apart is that he was the first of the Supermen. With all the attendant mythology about being trained from birth to be perfect.
Black's perspective and determination towards Doc Savage is definitely admirable, and hardcore fans of the classic pulp hero can breathe a sigh of relief because of this. Obviously, studios who have taken faith on the filmmaker have seen the benefit of not tampering with his works. That said, Black's experience with Iron Man 3, where Marvel changed Black's original storyline of having a female villain, could have made him more cautious.
In any case, we can be sure that Black is bent towards making the character on point to its source material, which is what even Simon Kinberg realized as they have done wrong in Fantastic Four.
Doc Savage is unlike other superheroes being adapted to film nowadays in that he's both older and mysterious. The movie also has a lower budget than most superhero adaptations and it has a more dedicated audience. While these aspects of the movie will make it harder to sell, the creative team behind Doc Savage will obviously be able to sell the character on his own merits. It also doesn't hurt that will be played by Dwayne Johnson.