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The superhero genre is about to go back to its roots in a major way. With the announcement of a Doc Savage movie, the genre will soon explore a pulp novel whose traits, personality and adventures laid the groundwork for the cape-clad heroes that would follow him for decades. As if that news isn’t great enough, we also have learned that none other than walking human charisma machine Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will front the whole affair.
All that being said, not everyone knows that much about Doc Savage. Sure, he’s got a badass name, but is The Rock really the right performer to take on such an iconic yet underexplored character? We definitely think so. We’ve gone through the Doc Savage lore, as well as The Rock’s own career, and come up with six major reasons why he’s the perfect actor to bring Doc Savage to a modern, mainstream audience. Now let’s get started with the most obvious reason of them all…
Doc Savage Is A Physical SpecimenOut of all the reasons why The Rock is perfect for the role of Doc Savage, this one should be the most readily obvious. Much like Dwayne Johnson, Doc Savage is a physical specimen who has trained himself from birth to possess physical strength and stamina at the peak of human abilities. The character has most often been depicted as a bronze-skinned, muscle-bound mountain of a man, and no modern action star fits that description better than the former wrestler turned cinematic hero. Over the last two decades, the actor has made a name for himself by inhabiting heroes who can overcame immense physical obstacles by looking them dead in the eye and meeting the challenge head on, while looking the part the entire time; Doc Savage could represent the pinnacle of that ideal for The Rock’s career.
He Has Brains To Match His BrawnHowever, it’s not just the muscles that make the man. In addition to Doc Savage’s insane physical abilities and stature, he also possesses unparalleled mental abilities as well. In the same vain of characters like Batman and Sherlock Holmes, he has trained his mind to pull off immense feats of deduction and analysis, and has studied nearly all forms of criminology and science to the point of mastery. In a similar fashion, The Rock has almost never played an everyman throughout the course of his career; he has made a name for himself by portraying characters who are experts in everything from law enforcement, from search and rescue to espionage. To see The Rock’s version of Doc Savage solving crimes with his brain and fists would feel incredibly fitting for both the actor and the character.
Doc Savage Lives By A Specific CodeLike so many superheroes who would follow in his footsteps, Doc Savage represents the ideal of a hero who abides by a very specific code of ethics. He’s a man who has vowed to use his incredible abilities to responsibly defend those who cannot defend themselves and never profit from his victories, Most depictions of the character even show him refusing to take the life of an enemy unless absolutely necessary. The Rock has similarly made a career out of portraying heroes who represent the qualities of lawful goodness (Walking Tall, anyone?) and he has built a career out of heroic characters that face off against the absolute evils of the world.
His Adventures Are Outlandish, But Not Full-Blown FantasyOne of the most interesting things about Doc Savage’s adventures is that even the most fantastical elements are often explained away through science instead of fantasy. Although many of his stories begin with the looming threat of a monster or fantastical event, when the smoke clears, Savage often manages to deduce something like an undersea creature is actually an advanced submarine, or a giant airborne monster turns out to be a zeppelin. In a similar manner to the James Bond franchise, many of Savage’s stories involve technologies that, while perhaps not real, are grounded in scientific principle. This seems like a natural fit for an actor like The Rock, whose outlandish disaster films like San Andreas still provide a logical, scientific basis for how an insane natural event could potentially occur.
Doc Savage Helped Create The Superhero ArchetypeDoc Savage’s nickname in his original stories saw him referred to as the "Man of Bronze," and from these pulp stories, men like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster would go on to incorporate traits of Savage into their very own Man of Steel a.k.a Superman. If you examine the traits present in just about any iconic superhero, you’ll find that they all possess elements that we can trace back to the original, Doc Savage. Although The Rock will soon enter the superhero genre in earnest with his portrayal of Black Adam in Shazam, Doc Savage represents another opportunity to honor the roots of the genre as a whole. He similarly did this with 2014’s Hercules, which told the story of another iconic hero whose strength, courage and abilities would eventually go on to lay the groundwork of what we expect from any modern superhero story.
This Version of Doc Savage Is A "Weirdo"Above all else, The Rock is a better fit for a Doc Savage movie than any other modern action icon because this version of the Man of Bronze will reportedly be a "weirdo." As a character trained and raised to physical and mental perfection, Doc Savage had minimal time to really get the gist of proper social skills or human interaction. Dwayne Johnson and director Shane Black seek to capitalize on that trait by letting The Rock flex his proven humor muscles by showing a great hero who’s not so great when it comes to things like simple conversation and proper etiquette. He’s an actor who has proven time and time again that he has enough charm and comedic timing to carry an entire franchise, so we believe wholeheartedly that The Rock is perfect to nail this particular aspect of Doc Savage’s absurdly oddball persona.