I distinctly remember going to the theater in 2003 to see the James Robinson-written adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. At the time, I hadn’t read the Alan Moore/Kevin O’Neill series, I just happened to be drawn in by what I saw as an ingenious premise: the Justice League of Victorian literature.
Even my dad, who had no use for superhero movies pre Iron Man/Dark Knight/Avengers, was excited about the prospect.
You can imagine how deflating that day actually was: a gun-wielding Tom Sawyer, a barely interested Sean Connery, and so. much. camp. When the released just a few months later Underworld was more entertaining by comparison, you know there’s a problem.
I eventually discovered the source material and devoured it voraciously. I even love the somewhat more divisive Century volume. For a good long while I yearned for Fox to go back and correct this grievous cinematic misstep. Then Showtime introduced Penny Dreadful, which took the same basic concept with a number of different characters (Mina Harker’s father, Dr. Frankenstein, another live action shot at Dorian Gray, vampires, witches, etc) and toned down the broader action elements in favor of a healthy dose of “Hammer horror”. It was the League adaptation I always wanted, just without the name or central characters, and it is perhaps the strongest series that the premium channel has ever produced.
And of course now, Fox has announced plans to reboot The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for the big screen per Variety. Just two years ago, there was talk of it becoming a television series with apparent go-to genre guy Michael Green as the showrunner, but that ended up not moving forward. Now producer John Davis will be teaming with Ira Napoliello and Matt Reilly to bring this new version to fruition, though no writers have been announced as of yet.
Can it succeed? Possibly! But given how Fox has generally mishandled its comic book franchises and fumbled with the League before, it’s tough to get excited on my end. Then again, we are talking about what I think is Moore’s best work from the ABC era to the current period, so the studio definitely has a tough row to hoe. In the meantime, season 2 of Penny Dreadful is wonderful thus far.