There was a time when Mandrake The Magician strode the entertainment world like a colossus, appearing across comics, radio and movie serials. Unfortunately for him, that time was back in the 1930s and '40s and since then, aside from a couple of attempts to make him work on TV and the stage, he’s largely been consigned to the pop cultural cave of limbo. That could all change if Warner Bros. and Atlas Entertainment have their way, as the companies are working on a new version of the top hat-wearing hero.
Originally created by Lee Falk for comic strips in 1934, Mandrake follows the titular illusionist, who boasted powerful hypnotic powers and a desirer to right wrongs and battle evil. Along with African strongman sidekick Lothar, he took on aliens, gangsters and assorted villains. He even had a twin brother who had similar powers but – as with many fictional twins – used them to pull off dastardly deeds.
While Mandrake was more successfully brought back to goggle boxes with 1980s ‘toon Defenders Of The Earth, he’s had much less luck on the film front. Federico Fellini tried to make a movie of the character in 1960s and in the early '80s Michael Almereyda was hired to by Embassy Pictures to crank out a draft. He duly obliged, only to emerge from three weeks of writing time to discover the company’s new regime had no interest in Mandrake.
More recently, Disney had the rights until Baldwin Entertainment and Hyde Park nabbed them, and came close in 2007 with a version that was set to star first Jonathan Rhys Meyers and then Hayden Christensen.
Dark Knight producer Charles Roven is in charge now, producing via his Atlas company. Though David and Janet Peoples had been working on a script, it now appears that Warners is looking to go the Sherlock Holmes route and update the character for the 21st century. Which means? New writers, please!