It's not uncommon that we hear about films that have been stuck in development hell for between five and 10 years, but paperback hero Mack Bolan has been waiting multiple decades for his time on the silver screen. After so many years, the character is finally being pulled off the shelf, and a writer has been hired to pen a new feature based around him, but it's amazing to think back on what could have been.
Similar to the long in-the-works adaptation of John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, which has attracted names like John Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley, John Goodman, Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis over the years but has never been made, fictional hero Mack Bolan has spent many years in Hollywood and has had a knack for drawing the attention of the biggest action stars in the business. Without giving any real specific details regarding how long they were attached and how far along their versions of the film got, Deadline has provided a full rundown of the A-list talent who almost played the elite anti-terrorist operative, including Steve McQueen:
And, most recently, Vin Diesel:
We can't quite say at this stage who the next big action star attached to play Mack Bolan will be, but at the very least we do know the name of the writer who will be scripting the adaptation. Shane Salerno, whose credits include Michael Bay's Armageddon, Oliver Stone's Savages, and James Cameron's upcoming Avatar 4, has made a deal with both author Don Pendleton's estate and Gold Eagle Books for the rights to finally make a Mack Bolan film. As you might have guessed, he will also be working on the project as a producer. At this time it's unclear which Bolan title Salerno intends to adapt - the character has been serialized is over 800 novels - but the filmmaker has promised a "relevant, grounded and gritty, real-world PG-13 action-drama film series."
First introduced in 1969, Mack Bolan a.k.a. The Executioner was introduced as a Vietnam veteran and expert sniper who goes full force after the mafia after their actions result in the death of his father and sister. Salerno has immediate plans to find a filmmaker and a studio so that he can start unfurling his plans for a trilogy of movies.