Fox is hoping that a second go-round in adapting Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s classic Wildstorm/Top Shelf comic The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen goes better than the first, as the studio announced plans on Tuesday to reboot that property for another attempt at big screen success. The last time Fox made a movie based around this comic was in 2003, directed by Stephen Norrington (Blade) and starring Sean Connery. The movie was given the title LXG: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, probably in the hopes that general audiences would think this movie was in some way a prequel to X-Men. In the end, the movie clicked neither with fans nor critics.
Ira Napoliello and Matt Reilly are overseeing the remake, which will once again be based on Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s series of the same name. The comic featured Victorian-era literary characters such as Captain Nemo, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Allan Quatermain and Dracula’s Mina Harker teaming up to fight a common enemy. A TV series was in development in 2013, but given Showtime’s Penny Dreadful remarkably similar premise, Fox undoubtedly decided not to try to compete with that show on the small screen and give a feature film another try instead.
Despite a script by comic book veteran James Robinson, the original movie version bore little resemblance to the comic; the original Alan Moore series painted the characters in a much more ambiguous, less heroic light than the movie did. Of the many changes the movie made from the comic, among the most egregious were taking away Allan Quatermain’s drug addiction, and marginalizing Mina Harker to secondary character status (in the comics she is the team’s leader). The studio also added an adult Tom Sawyer to the cast, so as to have a an American on the team and to give the project “youth appeal.” The film had a rushed production schedule and the special effects were subpar as a result. To make matters worse, director Stephen Norrington clashed with star Sean Connery, who essentially took over the film in the editing room. Norrington never directed another movie again, and LXG was Sean Connery’s final film appearance to date.
Having said all that, comic book movies have come a long way since the early 2000s when the last movie was made. Back then Fox was known for cheesier genre efforts, like the Tim Story Fantastic Four movies and the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes, but has made quite a turnaround in recent years. Could Fox be making a more faithful version this time? Anything is possible, but one thing is for sure: even if it’s great, Alan Moore is probably never going to watch this version either.