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Fox announces reboot plans for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

20th Century Fox has announced plans to attempt another adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, under I, Robot and Predator producer John Davis, because apparently the studio didn't learn its lesson the first time.

Well, that's not entirely fair. The rebooting of lackluster franchises always raises two questions: If the first was so horrible, why are they doing it again? and If the first was so horrible, why not try again? Perhaps with the success of shows like Penny Dreadful and the buzz around Guillermo del Toro's Crimson Peak, Hollywood executives are prepared to refrain from micromanaging Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's original graphic novel into a gray paste of predictable reveals, inexplicable car chases and literary references so terrified of flying over the heads of the audience that each one is practically accompanied by the actor turning to the camera and saying the name of the book it's from.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was first published by America's Best Comics, before the company was bought out by DC Comics, placing Alan Moore's work under the control of company he'd sworn never to work for again. In its first two installments, it followed the dark adventures of a team of British (or quasi-British) heroes (and criminals) brought together by the nascent MI6 program to respond to supernatural threats against crown and country, in a setting where all 18th century pulp fiction occurred in the same universe. The roster included Indian-born anarchist Captain Nemo, aging adventurer Alan Quartermain, frail scientist Dr. Jekyll, his dangerously sadistic counterpart Mr. Hyde, the Invisible Man known as Hawley Griffin and the team's leader, Wilhelmina Murray, a surviving, former wife of Dracula.


The 2003 film adaptation demoted Mina to second fiddle against Sean Connery's Alan Quartermain, in what would be the actor's final lead role to date, and added Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer to the cast. It was a critical and box office flop that, in this writer's opinion, did only two things right in its adaptation: It choose not to use the racist caricature Fu Manchu as its central villain, and changed the Invisible Man's backstory so that he was no longer a serial rapist.

Fox's new adaptation is likely another movie on the list of film adaptations made of Alan Moore's work regardless of his permission due to intellectual property rights shenanigans. It also probably won't be based on the continuing League of Extraordinary Gentlemen books set after the 1800s, as they take quite the turn off into the deep end. And by "deep end," we mean "a Harry Potter stand-in as the anti-Christ."

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