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Robert Downey Jr. has been done with Tony Stark for a few years now, but he has yet to find his next franchise. (Sorry, Dolittle.) Or maybe he finally has: According to The Wrap, the legendary actor is reuniting with one of his greatest collaborators to bring back to the screen one of crime fiction’s toughest, meanest antiheroes.
That collaborator is Shane Black, the screenwriter of Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and the director and co-writer of the Downey starrers Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man Three (as well as possibly his greatest triumph, The Nice Guys). The character is Parker, the notorious career criminal and star of 24 diamond cut pulp novels by Donald E. Westlake, who published them under the pseudonym Richard Stark, only because he was so prolific that he didn’t want the public to get sick of his seeing his name.
Black’s films are known for their sharp, witty banter and insults as well as inventive plotting, and Downey is rarely more alert than when he’s rattling off his one-liners. Parker, though, is a man of as few words as possible — a loner who does whatever he needs to survive as lucratively as possible. He was introduced in 1962’s The Hunter, which was turned into the 1967 psychedelic neo-noir Point Blank, with Lee Marvin as its taciturn, fearsome lead (renamed Walker).
Over the decades there have been many big screen takes on the character (who, as in Point Blank, is often renamed). He’s been played by actors including Jim Brown (1969’s The Split, based on The Seventh), Robert Duvall (1973’s The Outfit), Mel Gibson (1999’s Payback, also based on The Hunter), and Jason Statham (2013’s Parker, based on Flashfire). August company indeed for Downey.
It’s not clear which novel Downey and Black are tackling, but they have a lot of options. In the meantime, the Parker novels average about 200 pages with prose as lean and merciless as their antihero. You might even be able to plow through them all by the time the latest film is ready to watch.
(Via The Wrap)