As a fan of the writer/director since his '94 debut, it's still somewhat troubling to me that Kevin Smith is preparing to retire from filmmaking. With the acclaimed RED STATE finally hitting the UK next month, that leaves only one more film for me to enjoy - the upcoming hockey drama HIT SOMEBODY*.
So why "somewhat" troubled and not out-and-out destroyed then?
Well, on the one hand there's the fact that Smith now has a larger presence than ever before due to the vast podcast network he's been building over the last few years (leading to the launch of the 24/7 internet radio station S.I.R. in May), and his continued work for both Marvel and DC comics. Now Smith has hit upon the rather nifty idea of dusting off some of his older, unproduced screenplays and adapting them into the comic book format (though quite how he's managed to wangle the rights back from the studios is anybody's guess). The first came earlier this year when his draft of a pre-Seth Rogen/Michel Gondry THE GREEN HORNET was adapted by DYNAMITE comics...
Even further back, sometime in the mid-90's, Smith was also hired to write a screenplay for the then proposed big-screen reboot of the cult TV show THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN. Alas, once again his script eventually wound up used as the property went through various changes in tone - at one stage the project was to be a comedic version with both Chris Rock and Jim Carrey rumoured for the lead. Ugh.
Thankfully the awesome folk at DYNAMITE have once again stepped forward to bring Smith's story to the fans, with the release of THE BIONIC MAN, a 4-part series launching any day now. Here's their official synopsis:
"Steve Austin is back and acclaimed film maker Kevin Smith unleashes his high octane vision in this new series from Dynamite. Featuring 28 pages of story/art in an action-packed first issue! Kevin Smith is joined by Phil Hester, artist Jonathan Lau, and cover artist/character designer Alex Ross (the team who brought you The MAIN Green Hornet series), Smith unleashes Bionic Man into the 21st century as only he can."
For anybody who's read Smith's previous superhero output, you'll appreciate why his continued dedication to the comic-book medium is important (if you haven't yet read his work, seek out SPIDER-MAN VS BLACK CAT, highly recommended).
Knowing how well Smith can write within these genres, it's a great shame that we'll now never get see what he could have accomplished given the chance. It's always baffled me why Hollywood doesn't just tap the huge resource of veteran comic book writers to work on the big-screen adaptations instead of handing the screenplay duties to somebody with little understanding of the character. Smith has proven time and again that he not only knows these properties backwards, but also has a genuine affection for them. Can we really say the same for the team behind GREEN LANTERN?
So what other movie scripts does Smith have tucked away that he no longer has any use for? Can we expect to see a comic book version of his long-mooted sci-fi comedy RANGER DANGER AND THE DANGER RANGERS? We certainly hope so. Having also been a fan of his SUPERMAN LIVES script for Tim Burton (it kicked the ass of Brian Singer's version, trust me) it'd be great to see that get the same treatment also. But given Smith's anecdotes surrounding that particular production we wouldn't hold our breath.
* Ok, technically it's two films since the decision's been made to split it ala KILL BILL.
Fan of Kevin Smith? Upset to see him retire from filmmaking, or is this the right direction? Share your thoughts in the Comments or on Twitter @Starburst_Mag