DC Comics and Warner Bros. have another comic book adaptation in the works—Hourman, a long-running comic that got its start during the Golden Age of Comics in the 1940s.
According to Deadline, writing duo Gavin James and Neil Widener (Now You See Me 3, San Andreas 2) are writing the script for Chernin Entertainment, the outfit behind the recent Planet of the Apes revival, as well as Oblivion, Hidden Figures, Tolkien, and Underwater.
The comic character dates back decades: the original character debuted in Adventure Comics #48 in April 1940. Under the name Hourman, chemist Rex Tyler developed a super-serum—Miraclo—that imparted those who ingested it super strength and speed, but only for an hour. After testing it on himself, he becomes a superhero, and would eventually go on to be one of the founding members of the Justice League of America.
There have been a couple of other version of the character as well: Rick Tyler—Rex’s son, introduced in 1985—who took up the mantle after taking some of the Miraclo pills for a rescue, and Matthew Tyler, a far-future version (in the 853rd century) based off of Rex Tyler’s DNA, introduced in JLA #12 in 1997.
The character has popped up before in various animated adaptations over the years, and The CW contemplated a live-action series based on him in 2013 to sit alongside Arrow. While that show didn’t move forward, Rex Tyler’s version of the character did appear in Legends of Tomorrow (played by Patrick J. Adams), and both Rex and Rick popped up in Stargirl. It’s not clear what version of Hourman this film will be about.
Deadline notes that the studio has been working to mine DC’s archives for potential characters to adapt, ones that “aren’t as popular as Batman or Superman in the DC canon,” but which might otherwise be of interest to comic fans.
A recent series from NPR’s Planet Money highlighted the value that these older comic characters might hold to rights-holders: that archive of characters holds a lot of potential, and in the right hands, a once-obsolete character might find the right story and become a hit. In the episode, host Robert Smith noted that one recent example is Groot: “If you had asked me a decade ago, I would have had no idea who Groot was. Groot was this minor character for people who read comic books. But after Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy movie, Groot became a breakout star.”
It remains to be seen what form this project will take, or if it will happen at all, but Hourman has a fairly digestible backstory and schtick—develop super-pills, gain powers for an hour. It’s something we’ve seen fairly recently: Netflix’s film Project Power featured a similar premise, although in that instance, the pills featured only imparted powers to users for five minutes.