Sacha Baron Cohen is about to don the top hat, cloak and wand of Mandrake the Magician for Warner Bros. According to The Tracking Board, Cohen will play the titular character in the new movie, set to be helmed by Get Hard director Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder).
Mandrake the Magician is based on the highly popular 1934 character created by Lee Falk (dude also created The Phantom, one of my old-time faves) who first appeared in Mandrake the Magician, a syndicated newspaper comic strip. The character is often regarded by comics historians as the first superhero of comics and was cited as the inspiration for DC Comics' Zatara.
The story follows the adventures of Mandrake, an illusionist and escape artist who has the power to hypnotize his foes -- including gangsters, mad scientists, extraterrestrials and beings from other dimensions. The magician even demonstrated other powers throughout the years, including invisibility, shapeshifting, levitation and teleportation, thanks to the powers imbued by the hat, cloak and wand he inherited from his father. Mandrake travels the globe fighting evil (and that includes his twin brother Derek, who uses his power for eeh-vil instead of good) alongside his crime fighting companion Lothar.
Warner Bros.’ Mandrake the Magician will mark the first time the character will be adapted for the big screen since the 1939, twelve-part serial starring Warren Hull as Mandrake. A TV movie starring Coe Norton was made in 1954 and Anthony Herrera starred as the titular character in the 1979 TV movie Mandrake.
The project has been stuck in development hell for years, undergoing multiple variations at the hands of several writers, directors and producers, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Hayden Christensen all attached to star as Mandrake at various points. The casting of Sacha Baron Cohen shows that the movie is finally, finally moving forward.
Instead of setting the movie in the 1930s, when the character was first created (that would have been cool), sources for the site say that they plan to update the character for the 21st century, with Mandrake being recruited by the U.S. government for a secret mission.
They also report the most recent drafts of the script come from Syfy's 12 Monkeys writers David Peoples and Janet Peoples and Tom Wheeler (Puss In Booths). Charles Roven and Andy Horowtiz will produce. No news as to when the movie will begin filming and there's no release date yet.
With Sacha Baron Cohen cast as the lead, I wonder just how comedic this movie will be. Will he take a jab at the script? Hopefully, they’ll keep the spirit and tone of the original comic strips! What do you guys think of this news?