“I Am Legend” helmer Francis Lawrence is the latest director attached to the long-developing “Sgt. Rock” film, based on a new screenplay from Chad St. John. Joel Silver and Akiva Goldsman, two names with plenty of comic book connections, are producing the picture. Despite the departure of Ritchie, the addition of a new director-writer team means that fans of the classic World War II hero can hope to see Rock on the big screen before too long.
Except that Sgt. Rock won’t be a World War II hero in this version—instead, he’s heading into the future.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the surprising decision to jettison the titular war hero into a futuristic setting is based on the fact that “’Inglourious Basterds’ notwithstanding, period war movies have not been in vogue in Hollywood for years, unless it was a more serious contemplation of the subject like ’Saving Private Ryan.'”
“Also, American jingoism went out of style after 9/11,” the article explains further. “[Even] this summer’s G.I. Joe movie dropped the toy’s ’A Real American Hero’ tagline and made the action team internationally focused … The studio hopes moving the time period to the future solves the dilemma.”
While moving the film into the future might solve the dilemma for international and mainstream audiences, the decision to alter Sgt. Rock’s setting and story so dramatically is going to understandably upset staunch supporters of the character.
It’s particularly troubling news given the success of Quentin Tarantino’s aforementioned “Inglourious Basterds,” which proved that World War II is still a marketable topic even when equipped with a particularly pulpy flair. On top of that, Ritchie’s enthusiasm for the “Sgt. Rock” screenplay—which even THR says was appreciated by executives—led many to believe that an authentic adaptation was on the way.
Certainly, an adaptation might be on the way—and while the spirit of the character could still be captured by the future-set version, Warner Bros. is going to have a difficult time getting established “Sgt. Rock” fans on board for such a drastic alteration to the character.
Are you happy that “Sgt. Rock” is moving forward, or are you turned off by the futuristic setting? Let us know in the comments section or on Twitter!