The news that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will play the role of superhero Doc Savage in a live-action film has got fans of the movie muscleman excited. Yet many of the younger generation are probably wondering who this legendary character is. Heck, even I wasn't too familiar with Doc Savage, other than the fact that there was once a movie released in 1975 and a Batman crossover written by Brian Azzarello.
Yet, as I dove into this character, I found that Doc Savage was extremely popular back in the day and was considered the original Superman. Doc made his debut in 1933, whereas the Man of Steel was originally released by Action Comics in 1938. Created by the trio of Henry W. Ralston, John L. Nanovic and Lester Dent, and first published by Street & Smith in 1933, Clark Savage, Jr., known all over the world as the Man of Bronze, had absolutely no superpowers whatsoever. Yet the man had a particular set of skills that would classify him as the baddest black ops guy ever!
So Who Is Doc Savage?
Doc Savage was an actual doctor as well as a scientist, inventor and explorer. In his origin story, a team of scientists brought together by Doc's father trained Savage's mind and body to near-superhuman abilities from the moment he was born. Savage had above-average strength and a pro-athlete level of endurance. He developed a photographic memory and had extensive knowledge of all the sciences. And he's also a master at hand-to-hand combat.
He worked out of a secret office on the 86th floor of what would be the Empire State Building, and had a secret hangar under the Hudson River where he kept a private fleet of planes, boats and cars — all funded by a constant flood of gold from a Central American mine, given to Doc Savage by Mayan descendants. He even had his own Fortress of Solitude way before Superman did.
We can even thank Doc Savage for our modern technology. All of his futuristic tech will seem very familiar, and mind the fact that this was pre-WWII when these concepts came out:
- The flying wing, or what we know as the glider
- The answering machine
- The television
- Automatic transmission
- Night vision goggles
- A hand-held automatic weapon, known variously as the machine pistol, the super-machine pistol or the rapid-firer
Doc Savage writer Lester Dent said his beloved character "rights wrongs and punishes evildoers" and boasts Sherlock Holmes's deductive abilities, Tarzan's outstanding physical abilities, Craig Kennedy's scientific education and Abraham Lincoln's goodness.
Dent even went on to create a moral code for the good doctor:
Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it. Let me think of the right and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice. Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do. Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
Meet Doc's Team, The Fabulous Five
Doc Savage had his own gang of heroes to help him with his mission to save the world and punish evildoers. They were:
- Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett "Monk" Mayfair, a chemist who got his nickname from his monkey-like features of long arms and red body hair.
- Brigadier General Theodore Marley "Ham" Brooks, a lawyer with a fondness for fine suits who carried a sword cane that had a blade dipped in a fast-acting anesthetic.
- Colonel John "Renny" Renwick, a construction engineer who was a big man with big hands and who enjoyed using brute force. His character also often uttered the phrase "Holy cow!"
- Major Thomas J. "Long Tom" Roberts, an electrical engineer who is described as sickly looking. And yet he was a fierce fighter.
- William Harper "Johnny" Littlejohn, an archaeologist and geologist. Johnny was a man who loved to use big words in his everyday vocabulary. Indeed, his favorite saying was, "I'll be superamalgamated!"
Meet Doc's Cousin Pat
Doc's second cousin Patricia "Pat" Savage — who also had his bronzed skin, golden eyes and bronze hair — was along for the ride, even though Doc really wanted to keep her away from danger. She was a firecracker woman of the time; feisty and flirtatious, she didn't just stand aside because a man told her to.
Meet Doc's Greatest Villain
Of course, no hero is complete without an archenemy. Meet Russian-born John Sunlight, a criminal mastermind who is more of a wicked idealist. He hates the evils of the world and the condition of human suffering (famine, sickness, crime) so much that he wants to fix it. How, you ask? Simply by conquering the world and making everyone kneel to his will.
There is no doubt that if you are going to bring to life a modern Doc Savage with the combined qualities of Jason Bourne, Robert Langdon, Indiana Jones, Bruce Wayne, Sherlock Holmes and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, you will need the right actor to pull it off. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is most definitely that man. Director and writer Shane Black has a really cool, storied character to play with, so get ready, fans, because he is going to bring it!
No release date has been set for Doc Savage, so stay tuned.