It looks like Tom Wheeler is about to get real busy, real quick, with two very different projects. For a man with not too many existing high-profile projects to his name, the timing may just be pure coincidence, but Wheeler has recently been signed on to write big-screen adaptations of toy line/Marvel comic Micronauts as well as a live-action telling of Nickelodeon cartoon Dora the Explorer.
We’ll lead with the more nerd-relevant news of the two: Micronauts, first introduced in the 1970s as Microman in Japan, was a line of toy robots created by Mego in the United States and turned into a Marvel Comics series that ran from 1979 through 1986, with Image Comics and Devil’s Due Publishing taking unsuccessful shots at re-launching the line in the mid-2000s. In November 2009, Hasbro announced the re-launch of the Micronaut toy line; in addition, the company made allusions to the fact that JJ Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions were in negotiations to produce a feature film. In a 2013 interview, film producer/screenwriter Paul Wernick said:
“We’ve written a couple of drafts of Micronauts and it’s in the Paramount system now. We developed it with Bad Robot, and it’s probably not what you might imagine a Micronauts movie to be. It departs from the comic wildly, so if you hope it’s loyal to the comic you’ll be disappointed in that particular sense. However, it’s very, very different and very, very cool.”
Apparently, that particular iteration of the project stalled, but now Wheeler has been brought on-board to attempt to resurrect the film. No “official” word yet on whether Micronauts can or will fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the case so far: Paramount is the production company spearheading this film and the primary rights to the characters seem to currently reside with Hasbro.
In case you were wondering about Wheeler’s back-story, he’s been contractually committed the last few years exclusively to Dreamworks, where he’s helped write and create such projects as Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots and the upcoming animated film B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operations. Obviously the folks in Hollywood think he’s a good guy to have writing projects for the younger-skewed crowd. Which brings us to his second film in the works: a live-action Dora the Explorer.
Clearly aimed at the ever-popular child/youth market, Dora has existed as an educational cartoon on TV since 2000, and remains remarkably popular with the younger set. The original show follows the exploits of Dora, a 7-year-old young Latin-American girl, who travels to exotic locations and solves mysteries or problems with the help of a magic Map and a talking monkey named Boots. In recent years, Nickelodeon has attempted to make Dora more accessible to the young-adult crowd: a spinoff show, Dora and Friends: Into the City!, portrays Dora as a more “grown-up” early teenager with most story lines revolving around more real-world scenarios.
From initial reports, there doesn’t seem to be a clear indication on which project will be “first up” for Wheeler to work on.