In the latest case of Tinsel Town pilfering the comic racks for tentpole material, Warner Bros. Pictures has picked up film rights to the 1962 DC Comics property Metal Men. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Eric Champnella (Mr. 3000) is writing the screenplay for producer Lauren Shuler Donner, who produced all three X-Men movies and is also working on the Wolverine and Magneto spin-off flicks.
The concept of Metal Men lends itself to liberal use of CG animation. Written by Robert Kanigher, penciled by Ross Andru and inked by Mike Esposito, the comics chronicle the adventures of six intelligent robots that possess unique powers dictated by the different types of metal they’re made from. Forged in a laboratory by scientist William Magnus, the team of shape-shifting heroes is led by Gold and also includes the strong Iron, the slow-witted but loyal Lead, the self-doubting and insecure Tin and the hot-headed Mercury. Rounding out the crew is Platinum, who wants to be a real woman and harbors romantic feelings for Dr. Magnus.
Respected comic-book scribe Geoff Johns is contributing to the development efforts and will serve as an exec producer on the film. Dan Lin and Elishia Holmes are spearheading the project for Warner Bros. and Gregory Noveck is overseeing for DC Comics.
While costumed crime fighters Spider-Man, Superman and Batman have been sure-fire box-office draws over the years, films based on more marginalized superheroes have been a crap shoot. Twentieth Century Fox hit a winner with the X-Men trilogy and made a surprise hit out of Fantastic Four, but the deeper studios dig into the comic bin the harder they have to work to sell it to the public. Lions Gate’s take on Marvel’s The Punisher didn’t set the box office on fire and fellow moderate successes Constantine (DC Vertigo) from Warner Bros. and Ghost Rider (Marvel) from Columbia Pictures relied heavily on the star power of Keanu Reeves and Nicholas Cage, respectively. In the next couple of years we’ll see how moviegoers take to the likes of Nick Fury, Dr. Strange and Ant Man and a host of other comic heroes making their way to the big screen.