Long before Marvel and DC movies were the rage, independent pioneers Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz gave us a 98-pound weakling who transformed into the first superhero from New Jersey! The Toxic Avenger stormed onto the scene in 1984 and brought with it Troma’s trademark combination of over-the-top violence and gore and slapstick comedy, thus creating an empire. A big studio remake was bandied about for years, and in 2018, Legendary Entertainment officially set forth with a new take on the unlikely hero, with Kaufman and Herz producing.
Here’s everything we know about the project.
For now, the movie is known as The Toxic Avenger.
The Toxic Avenger‘s Plot
Who (or What) Exactly Is the Toxic Avenger?
The Toxic Avenger tells the story of Melvin, a janitor who works at a health club and gets picked on incessantly by the beefy, attractive, but completely mean-spirited patrons. Until one day, he’s pranked exceptionally hard and falls into a vat of toxic waste. The ensuing mutation turns him into a hideously deformed creature of superhuman size and strength, affectionately known as Toxie. He travels around Tromaville, NJ, cleaning up criminals and corrupt politicians in particularly unpleasant ways. But he’s a lovable hulking monster, at least.
A Toxic Legacy
Since its debut nearly 35 years ago, The Toxic Avenger has been one of the most successful cult franchises in history, spawning three sequels, a children’s cartoon in the ’90s, and even a live stage musical. Troma Entertainment has cultivated a very specific brand of movie, a mix of horror, action, and raunchy comedy that has a fervent fan following. It’ll be interesting to see what a studio version of The Toxic Avenger would look like, and presuming it retains its edge, how much gore and gross-out humor it’ll be able to get away with and still receive an R-rating.
Behind the Scenes
In one of the more exciting and confounding turns of events in recent movie news, Legendary’s upcoming big-screen reboot of Troma Films’ tentpole The Toxic Avenger has signed on a writer-director with some serious dark indie cred. As first reported by Variety, Macon Blair, the writer-director of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. and a frequent actor and collaborator with Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room, Hold the Dark) will pen the script and direct The Toxic Avenger.
The Toxic Avenger‘s Cast
Peter Dinklage is playing Toxie himself, Winston Gooze. Acting opposite Dinklage as the film’s female lead, we have Taylour Paige, costar of Zola and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Jacob Tremblay will also star. But perhaps most excitingly is the casting of the film’s villain. Kevin Bacon, star of the screen and unlikely focus of every film nerd’s favorite way to pass the time on a bus, will play the heavy. Elijah Wood and comedic actress Julia Davis are also part of the cast.
Recently, Entertainment Weekly shared new images from The Toxic Avenger reboot. These images gave us some of our first glimpses of the new cast in action. We were especially excited to finally learn more about Elijah Wood’s role in the movie. According to the publication, Wood “plays a villain named Fritz Garbinger with blackened teeth, panda eyes, and long tendrils of hair sprouting from his mostly bald pate.” This character is “sort of Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the Danny DeVito Penguin mixed together.” That’s quite a combination.
We also see Kevin Bacon appear in these new images. Bacon plays “corporate overlord Bob Garbinger… a character the director describes as in ‘the mold of Lex Luthor, where they have all this money and resources at their disposal, but he’s just kind of a disaster.'” Bacon and Wood play brothers in the movie. Whereas Bacon’s The Toxic Avenger villain is the golden boy, Wood’s character is “the runt of the family.”
Taylour Paige, meanwhile, appears as a “part investigative reporter, part vigilante detective.” And “she’s working to accumulate evidence against this corrupt company.” Jacob Tremblay also stars, he plays Winston (Peter Dinklage)’s stepson Wade.
The Toxic Avenger‘s Release Date
The Toxic Avenger premiered as the opening film of Fantastic Fest on September 21, 2023.
Originally published in December 2018.
Editor’s Note: Nerdist is a subsidiary of Legendary Digital Networks.