Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Brüno, The Dictator) has signed on as the lead in the upcoming film ‘Mandrake the Magician.’ The Warner Bros. flick, which has been in development for years and gone through many hands, seems to finally be moving forward. The adaptation of the 1934 syndicated comic strip drawn by Lee Falk is said to bring the story up-to-date and into the 21st Century. Sources are saying that the plan is for Mandrake to be recruited by the United States government for a secret mission requiring his skills and abilities.
The story focuses on Mandrake, the illusionist/escape artist with the ability to hypnotize his enemies. He embarks on adventures all over the world with his companion Lothar. Along the way, the two solve mysteries and encounter a number of evildoers, including Mandrake’s twin brother who becomes a worthy adversary for this magician. He uses magic and hypnosis to defeat bad guys, including gangsters, mad scientists, aliens, and characters from other realms. He can turn invisible, levitate, morph, and teleport. These powers were bestowed upon him by his father’s hat, cloak, and wand, which he inherited after his dad’s passing.
According to The Tracking Board, the movie will star Sacha Baron Cohen as Mandrake, and Etan Cohen, Warner Bros., Sacha Baron Cohen, be directed by Etan Cohen (writer/director Get Hard) off a script from the team of David & Janet Peoples (Twelve Monkeys) and Tom Wheeler (Empire, Puss in Boots). Knowing Sacha, however, there will likely be ad libs, revisions and off-the-wall improvisations.
The feature film will be produced by WB’s Charles Roven and Andy Horowitz. Mandrake the Magician is currently in development and both the actor Cohen and director Cohen are the first names attached to the project.
Currently, the comic book rights to Mandrake the Magician lie with Dynamite Entertainment. The indie publisher has created both crossover and solo series in recent years. Prior to Dynamite, Mandrake had his adventures covered in Marvel Comics, Moonstone Comics, King Comics and Dell Comics. The character of Mandrake is said to be an inspiration for many other magicians in comics, such as Zatara from DC Comics.
This isn’t the first time Mandrake the Magician has been adapted from its comic strip to other media. In 1939, there was a film of the same name starring Warren Hull, Doris Weston, and Al Kikume. Throughout the years it was featured on radio programs and in serials. In 1979, a made-for-tv movie was created starring Anthony Herrera, Simone Griffeth, and Ji-Tu Cumbuka. Debuting in 1986 was the 66-episode run of the animated series ‘Defenders of the Earth.’ The show featured Mandrake (with his adopted son Kshin), along with Lothar (and his son L.J.), and The Phantom (and his daughter Jedda), all gathered as a team to help Flash Gordon (as well as his son Rick), to take on Ming the Merciless and his son Crotan. It was a family affair.