Axel-In-Charge: Unmasking the "Totally Awesome Hulk"
If there’s one thing that a quick look at the current state of television and movies will tell you, it’s that there’s not much need for original ideas when there’s so much out there ready and waiting to be adapted, updated or just outright ripped off. That’s why we’ve decided to help in that process with a series which offers up some of the things we’d like to see being brought to big screen or small. This week’s suggestion? M.A.S.K..
What Is It?
A 1980s toyline that mined the Transformers craze with vehicles that turned into other vehicles, with an additional superhero angle: The drivers of said vehicles had helmets that gave them powers beyond mortal men. Because it was the 1980s, said toyline was supported by a cartoon and comic book series:
The set-up of the series wasn’t a million miles away from the GI Joe concept; Matt Tracker – surely the most generic name for a square-jawed hero imaginable – led an anti-terrorist organization Mobile Armored Strike Kommand (The misspelling of “Command” came about, of course, because of the acronymistic possibilities) who fought the evil criminal organization V.E.N.O.M. – which stood for “Vicious Evil Network of Mayhem” – led by the mustachioed Miles “Wolf” Mayhem. As you can tell, subtlety wasn’t on the agenda when these concepts were being named.
What Could It Be?
With, seemingly, every toy from your childhood being resurrected and investigated for its movie potential, it’s surprising that we haven’t heard about a M.A.S.K. movie in development yet. Admittedly, in order to make the concept work for modern audiences, it would require at the very least some slight re-working in terms of characters’ names and motivation (V.E.N.O.M. would need more reason to be evil than just being evil, for example, and we’d probably need a new definition of their acronym) if not something more wholesale reboot and rethink from the ground up. But there remains something interesting in the mix of GI Joe and Transformers that M.A.S.K. offers, and in the toyline’s tagline, “Illusion Is The Ultimate Weapon” (If anything sounds like a pre-made movie tagline, it’s that, let’s be honest).
Here’s what I’d do with the property: Go back to the backstory of the whole thing, which saw Matt Tracker’s brother killed by Miles Mayhem as the result of the latter’s attempt to steal the technology behind the Masks themselves, and turn that into the plot of the movie; instead of ensuring that everyone has super powered masks when the whole thing starts, start when no-one has a working mask, and the tech is theoretical, and have your movie be about whether or not Mayhem (who, please, needs to be renamed) can get the tech working before Tracker finds him. Limit the M.A.S.K. and V.E.N.O.M. teams to a few characters at most, and treat the whole thing as Mission: Impossible with cooler toys. Bring in someone charismatic as Tracker – Is Chris Helmsworth too on the nose and over-saturated at this point? If not, then him – and someone suitably over-the-top and camp as Mayhem (For no reason whatsoever, I suddenly thought of Peter Capaldi. Admit it; Malcolm Tucker would make a great super villain). Find someone who can handle comedy and action with equal skill to direct – I keep going back to Brad Bird for these things, but let’s see if Up‘s Pete Docter wants to try his hand at live-action for awhile – and find a script from someone who can mix the two and make it all entertaining… Maybe Warehouse 13‘s Ben Raad and Deric Hughes, perhaps.
The result, I’d hope, would be a toy movie that looks more like a spy movie, but with wit and heart in amongst all the special effects. Raiders of The Lost Ark, but with technology replacing archaeology and no melting Nazis at the end. A tall order, perhaps, but even if it all went wrong, one thing would still be true: It’d likely be better than Battleship.