Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan is well over 100 years old, but the iconic character seems to be due for another reinvention. THR has reported that Sony Pictures have picked up the screen rights to Tarzan from the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs and are looking to do a “total reinvention” of the character.
Sony Pictures had no comment, and no writers, filmmakers, or producers are attached to the Tarzan project, but it seems that we’ll see the character back on the big screen. The first Tarzan novel was serialized in the pulp magazine The All-Story in 1912. It proved so successful that Burroughs wrote dozens more, and Tarzan has been brought to life in movies, TV, radio, and comics for nearly as long as the character has existed. As for what this “total reinvention” might entail, it’s not hard to imagine what they’re getting at. The Tarzan stories have been criticized for using racial and gender stereotypes and promoting colonialism and the whole white saviour thing. As we’ve seen more than a few versions of Tarzan’s origins, perhaps a new take isn’t bad.
Tarzan was the son of a British lord and lady who found themselves marooned on the coast of Angola. When his parents died, the infant was taken in by a tribe of apes who raised him. He later met and fell in love with Jane Porter, eventually marrying her and moving to England, where he was disgusted by the hypocrisy of modern civilization. They later returned to Africa and experienced all manner of adventures.
The character was last seen on the big screen in The Legend of Tarzan. The 2016 film starred Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou, Jim Broadbent, and Christoph Waltz. While it was intended to launch a new franchise, the mixed reviews and lackluster box-office didn’t give Warner Bros. much faith in moving forward. How would you like to see Tarzan reinvented for the 21st century?