We're in that lull between summer blockbusters and holiday films. Maybe it's just as well. After "The Avengers," "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Dark Knight Rises," we may be suffering from superhero fatigue. And just wait until next year, when another Iron Man film, another a Thor film, and a reboot of Superman (not to be confused with his last reboot a few years ago), hit the big screen.
Perhaps the action/adventure/thriller genre needs to get real -- as in, featuring human heroes who can save the world but who don't wear funny costumes and have secret identities. There's no shortage of great characters in thriller novels just waiting to be adapted into big screen icons.
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, and the first three Bourne films, starring Matt Damon, proved the formula can work, though the Bourne franchise might be losing steam after this summer's so-so "The Bourne Legacy" (in which Jeremy Renner took over the hero's spot).
Anyone who reads Lee Child's novels has to have mixed feelings about "Jack Reacher" coming out in December, with short-statured Tom Cruise playing a former military investigator who's 6-foot-5, 250 pounds and depends on brute strength to dominate physical altercations (in other words, he hammers people into the ground). Cruise may have bucked the odds and pulled off Lestat in "Interview with the Vampire," but this could be a tougher challenge.
Still, there are lots of literary characters out there begging
for some big-screen face time. Here are a few: Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp just screams for a big-screen transition. The world's most volatile and dangerous counterterrorism agent is one of the most intense characters ever to appear in a thriller series. At one point, Oscar-winner Edward Zwick ("The Last Samurai," "Blood Diamond") was attached to a film, but it's been months since any updates came out. Flynn's bout with prostate cancer, now reportedly in remission, may have delayed the project. Nelson's DeMille's John Corey, a NYPD detective turned Federal Anti-Terrorist Task Force member, is the rare example of a thriller character who's laugh-out-loud funny. Easily one of the most entertaining and dynamic characters in the genre, Corey would be great on the big screen, provided producers picked the right actor to balance the hero's sarcasm with his lethal ability. F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack could make a successful action hero, even though his novels often are labeled as horror because of the paranormal landscape. Wilson sold the film rights to Repairman Jack to Touchstone more than a decade ago, and it says on his website that the project has chewed up six writers so far. It doesn't look like this adaptation is happening anytime soon. After just three books, Patrick Lee's "Tangent" series has shown a knack for combining action and science-fiction into the kind of twist-and-turn, apocalyptic stories that keep you up reading all night. Travis Chase may not be as strong a character as Mitch Rapp, but the multidimensional stories could easily make up for that. Aloysius Pendergast is unlike any other literary hero. He's a rich, well-educated, brilliant man with boundless abilities who happens to be an FBI agent. The creation of writers Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child could make for a fantastic movie hero.
The idea of having big-screen heroes who wear capes is getting old. It's time for someone new.
Contact Tony Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Facebook.com/BayAreaNewsGroup.TonyHicks.