Shane Black writing a pilot based on The Avengers TV show
Before Marvel’s “The Avengers” comic title launched in 1963, there was the British spy series The Avengers, which ran on England’s ITV from 1961 to 1969. Now, The Dark Side Magazine (via ScreenRant) has conducted an interview with screenwriter Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad, upcoming The Predator) which confirms that he and his longtime writing partner Shane Black (Iron Man 3, The Nice Guys) are currently working on a new TV pilot of The Avengers for Warner. Bros! The two previously co-wrote the pilot for Amazon’s western series Edge in 2015, which did not go to series.
“It’s ‘The Avengers,’ with John Steed and Emma Peel,” Dekker confirmed. “We’re setting it in Britain in the 60’s, and our approach is ‘The Ipcress File’ meets ‘Doctor Who.’ At this moment, it’s my favorite thing we’re working on.”
The stylish espionage series known for cheeky humor revolved around John Steed (the late Patrick Macnee), a secret agent working for a secret branch of British intelligence. Steed had a succession of onscreen partners, including two men at first. The partners then transitioned into female cohorts, including Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), and Tara King (Linda Thorson). Rigg, now famous again for her role as Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones, turned Peel into something of a feminist icon: A fashionable genius scientist and spy who is also a martial arts master, frequently rescuing Steed.
20 years ago, a big-budget film adaptation titled The Avengers was released in summer 1998 and starred Uma Thurman and Ralph Fiennes as Peel and Steed, with Sean Connery as the villain. The film famously had its runtime gutted by Warner Bros. after terrible test screenings (which caused further incoherence), and despite retaining the surreal/cheeky tone of the original series was ultimately a colossal failure and more or less ended the directing career of Jeremiah S. Chechik (Christmas Vacation). Before the ’98 movie, several other iterations were considered with directors like David Fincher and Nicholas Meyer, along with stars such as Mel Gibson and Charles Dance for Steed, and Emma Thompson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore, Elizabeth Hurley and Madeleine Stowe for Peele.
Shane Black has a long history with Warner Bros. dating back to penning the first two Lethal Weapon movies for the studio, as well as his critically-acclaimed directorial efforts Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. With his big budget sequel The Predator set for release this summer on August 3, Black also has several other reboots of classic pulp spy adventures in development, including Doc Savage with Dwayne Johnson (made as Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze in 1975) and The Destroyer (previously made in 1985 as Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins).