So, this is a bit old but seeing as no one has talked about it…are there any fans of The Shadow who might be interested in this?
My Grandfather loved the Shadow he used to get it on wireless in Ireland in the 30s and it was a joy to go with him to see the movie when it came out. I feel the shared experience enhanced the film far beyond what it deserved, I really enjoyed it and would be perfectly happy to see a bit more of Lamont Cranston.
Like many of The Shadow’s contemporaries - The Phantom, Doc Savage, Green Hornet, The Rocketeer - there surely is a fanbase. But I’m afraid it’s by now a niche one that doesn’t reach far into mainstream. So taking a popular brand author is perhaps a wise move if they want to capitalise on the character. How successful it will turn out depends upon whether the novels will resonate with the larger public - and if a feature film really takes off later.
I would think that at this point, this character appeals to very much a “niche” audience. The fact that I happen to be totally in that niche doesn’t mean I can’t see it’s a niche.
If they did a Shadow movie or series that was true to the pulps and set in the 1930s and 40s, I and other pulp fans would be totally into it, but I’m not convinced enough other ticket-buyers would be. On the other hand, if they tried to “update” or “contemporize” the character by moving him to the 2020’s, I’d probably be out, along with others. I probably wouldn’t be that crazy about another film that melds the radio version and pulp version as the Baldwin flick did, either.
The fact that a Doc Savage movie has been “in development” longer than some posters here have likely even been alive does not bode well for pulp properties in general. The fact that The Shadow actually did make it to screen in the 90s to general indifference doesn’t help.
I may or may not check out the books. With well over 300 original tales out there already, and recently reprinted, there’s no hurry.
On closer inspection it’s indeed strange that the pulp heroes of yesteryear don’t do better business in a time where a large portion of the market is held by their cousins from the superhero comics.
What is the reason?
Why should a naïve altruistic Superman do much better today - relatively speaking - than a naïve altruistic Doc Savage? Why would a bandanna-covered slouchhatted revenger seem more ludicrous than a cape wearing Batman or a killer with a skull on his T-shirt?
Indiana Jones and Star Wars prove that mindset and atmosphere of the old pulp and serial heroes have been popular enough over the decades - just for some reason not their actual characters. Trying to revive the originals now, be that Doc Savage or Flash Gordon, The Green Hornet or here The Shadow, will be an uphill struggle where it seems doubtful ‘updating’ is the way to go.
I’m not even sure the Marvel productions are really ‘modern’ at their core - they are wearing a contemporary veneer over plots that could very well be from the sixties of last century. Where many of their protagonists were conceived and their basic origins invented.
The pulps were awesome for Depression-era fans willing to read purple prose with just the occasional picture. Comics one-upped that by adding lots of pictures – in lurid color – and movies have gone comics one better by removing the need to read at all.
Which is to say, whatever was “cool” about the pulps has been strip-mined, exploited, amped up and exaggerated to the point where the originals can seem dull and primitive in comparison. A guy in a slouch hat with a cape looks cool, but replace the dark suit with body armor and the hat with pointy ears and you’ve dialed it up to 11. A guy with tremendous strength and a brilliant mind is awesome, but compared to a guy who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, how awesome can he be?
The merits of the “John Carter” film are certainly debatable, but its lukewarm reception was doubtless influenced by the perception that it “borrowed” from things like Star Wars where in fact the opposite was true. Not only do pulp properties not have the built-in recognition factor of comic book properties, but the marketing folks have the additional burden of explaining that these old characters actually did it all first, and the “big names” of today are the imitators.
I don’t know, I feel like if you tried to make a movie today that’s set in the 1930s and features a guy whose “superpower” is the ability to move about ninja-like undected, who seems to be omniscient because he has a network of spies and agents in all walks of NY life, who shoots people with a pair of automatics, the general response would be, “Yeah…and…?” It was awesome on the written page nearly 100 years ago, but on screen? Today? I doubt it. Even if you add the “cloud men’s minds” thing from the radio – as the Baldwin film did – it’s still tame stuff by the standards of modern superhero films.
I’ve got the Shadow magazines bought and read them occasionally and they are grand, loved the serial from the 40’s and the 90’s movie was wicked fun.
Orson Welles as the Shadow on OTR plays is just so much fun.
But I guess like the Saint the Shadow works much better in his original times pre-WW2 and perhaps the younger generation are less into that.
I am not sure what Patterson has to add, I am more afraid of him rewriting and looting the Shadow history while thumping his chest how great he is. would a Shadow revival happen, which I doubt. At least with Dynamite comics we were given a recent injection of new Shadowiness.