Entertainment press across the British Empire to Latin America and from the Daily India to Latino Review to the Uk Daily News have reported on supposed discussions over the past few weeks on a new movie in the works based on Martin Caidin’s original 1972 Bionic Man novel Cyborg, the source for the Six Million Dollar Man TV series.
The alleged discussions are over a script, that, depending on the source, may or may not be called The Six Billion Dollar Man, stress on the Billion. Supposedly it’s the Weinsteins and Universal who are having those discussions and working on the project, with Bryan Singer pegged as the director being courted to helm the project. And the man to play Steve Austin? Leonardo diCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio? At 37, I guess he could make it work in some effort to try to update the character for the 21st century.
Kevin Smith has previously said he had a script for a Bionic Man movie circulating for years, ultimately to end up as the currently running Bionic Man comic book series co-written by Phil Hester for Dynamite Comics, which as a series is pretty good both as an update to the 1970s TV series and respectful to Caidin’s original story. But this is not the same project as the Weinstein/Singer film.
A comedy spoof has also been rumored, called the Forty Thousand Dollar Man, and supposedly discussions have occurred with Jim Carrey for a similar project. Let’s hope this one is false.
Of, course, none of this is real until we hear something from Singer or DiCaprio. So far, nothing, just the international media speculating.
If this is all true, Singer has a good feel for genre film. He wrote X-Men, X2, X-Men: First Class and Superman Returns, and directed great suspenseful flicks like The Usual Suspects and Valkyrie. As director of a few episodes and executive producer of the series that is the best medical series ever on TV, House M.D., he may have a nice edge for the science and medicine of the Bionic Man mythos. So he gets our thumbs up to lead up a big screen Bionic Man.
I’ll admit I’d like to see a twist on the story with an older actor like Scott Bakula as Steve Austin, or someone like Sam Shepard playing test pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff, since we’re talking about a seasoned astronaut and test pilot. Of course Shepard was 40 when he made The Right Stuff, and DiCaprio is 37. I’d rather see someone whose general appearance is like Scott Glenn or Dennis Quaid vs DiCaprio, who, even with make-up, like playing Howard Hughes in The Aviator, looks perpetually young, and nicely cast as pretty boy Jay Gatsby in the soon to be released The Great Gatsby, he’s not as grisly looking as you’d think of for the typical test pilot. Still, DiCaprio has had enough diverse roles that he could probably easily give some kind of new twist on Steve Austin. And we’ve already seen him crash a plane in The Aviator and pose as a pilot, and do a lot of running, in Catch Me if You Can.
With every new year that passes and with emerging new technologies, a real human cyborg might become more and more possible, so it is fun to think about updating Steve Austin. We’ll obviously keep our ears perked for more news on this front.