Most of James Wan’s directorial career has been spent plugging away in the realm of relatively low-budget horror. That’s changed now that he helmed Furious 7, which has earned more than a billion dollars and climbing, as he’s being mentioned in tandem with tons of big-time projects, and the latest appears to be Robotech.
According to Deadline, Wan, who cut his teeth on the Saw franchise, is in talks with Sony Pictures to take the reins on the long in development live-action Robotech movie. Wan is a hot commodity in Hollywood at the moment. He plans to direct The Conjuring 2, and has been linked to Warner Bros. and DC’s upcoming Aquaman solo movie, which will star Jason Momoa—he’s never taken a dip in the superhero pool before. Not to mention, we don’t really know if he’s on board for more Fast & Furious movies. If these all pan out, it could be a while before he’s free to take on Robotech, but the trade’s sources say he and Sony are both pushing hard to make this work.
Robotech is one of those properties that has been on the verge of being adapted for years, and Sony is the latest studio to try their luck with the franchise. They picked up the rights about a month ago with an eye on turning it into one of those big, expansive universes that are all the rage right now in Tinseltown. Everyone wants their version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and maybe Wan can lend a hand.
Dating back to the early 1980s, the Robotech brand includes multiple animated shows, books, comics, role playing games, movies, and some seriously kickass toys. You have to imagine that, if this happens and is successful, Sony would like to create a product stream like that of their very own, and the potential is certainly there, with a wealth of storylines and characters to mine for material.
As far as the story goes, the people of Earth discover the remains of an alien spaceship in the South Pacific and develop giant shape shifting mechanical suits to defend the world against a string of invaders from space. What we’ve heard is that a potential plot focuses on two hotshot young pilots who are likely untested and rebellious of spirit, but also humanities last hope.
There is potential to create something really cool with Robotech. Not only could you turn out a visually epic movie—how can you not get giddy at the prospect of giant planes with legs running around fighting aliens?—there is rich thematic ground to explore as well, like the idea of technology as both a savior and a downfall of humanity, for one. That’s as timely now as it ever was.
Maybe the biggest trick of all with Robotech is going to be how to set it apart from the likes of Transformers and Pacific Rim, as there are rather obvious similarities. It could be easy to fall into a mimicry situation. It would be too bad, too, because Robotech has it’s own cool thing going on. While Michael Bay’s franchise has earned billions, Guillermo del Toro’s mechs versus monster saga struggled in its domestic release, which raises the question of whether or not there is room at the box office for three franchises worth of mechanical behemoths?
We’ll wait and see if this ever actually materializes. Over the years, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lawrence Kasdan, Akiva Goldsman, and even Tobey Maguire, among others, have all been involved in adapting Robotech in various capacities. Though if Wan signs on, and Sony is serious about making this happen, maybe we’ll finally see a live-action Robotech after numerous false starts.