Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tarzan Rebooted

Deuce Richardson at The Cimmerian has made an interesting post about an upcoming relaunch of the character of Tarzan the Ape-Man through a series of new novels that updates him and his adventures to the 21st century. Needless to say, I'm skeptical of the wisdom of this, but I'm almost always skeptical of such things. While I am fond of Tarzan, hearing about this doesn't quite make my blood boil in the same way as when I hear about the likely ignominies to be visited upon Robert E. Howard's characters.

But it might work. Who knows? At the very least, I hope that Burroughs people demonstrate better guardianship over one of ERB's iconic characters than Conan Properties has often shown for the Cimmerian.


  1. I'm less optimistic, although I also suspect I won't end up caring much. The thing about Conan is that for all the indignities done to Howard's work in adaptation, a lot of the end results have been entertaining.

    I mean, Marvel Conan isn't the original, but he's an interesting character and some of his adventures are just great. Seventies fantasy comics were good comics, even if they were sometimes poor adaptations.

    Tarzan hasn't had this kind of luck. Most versions of Tarzan have been no fun at all... if Conan's been reduced to a muscle man from time to time, Tarzan's been reduced to a joke in his own movies.

  2. I suspect that the Tarzan reboot will vanish without a ripple.

  3. I don't know if it is book canon, but doesn't Tarzan eventually become immortal due to witch doctor magic or something? I would be fine if modern Tarzan was still the early century Tarzan, and they showed him some respect.

    I dunno. Back when they were doing the Disney Tarzan cartoon, I was scared because I was a bigger Tarzan book fan than Conan or LOTR. But as it turns out, IMHO that Disney Tarzan was the best portrayal of the character outside of the books (as long as I don't think too much about the Rosie O'Donnel gorilla). Just the way they had him be a super-mimic like in the books won me over.

    Maybe we need a Disney Conan? Music by Phil Collins...

  4. Tarzan updated to the 21st century? Why do I have this feeling he's going to become a tree-hugging ecowarrior?

  5. "Why do I have this feeling he's going to become a tree-hugging ecowarrior?"

    Because that's what it says in the press release? :)

  6. Oh, so that's where I saw it... :)

    security word: "diliest," something that's really a dilly.

  7. It's already been done.

    I really hate to say this, but maybe the character of Tarzan has hit his societal expiration date in this belligerently politically correct age, kind like Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The concept may need a truly imaginative retelling on the order of an Apocalypse Now.

  8. I don't think you need to be belligerently politically correct to notice that Tarzan was really racist.

  9. And like I said, belligerent. Thanks for proving my point, not that I disagree with you on yours, you're right.

  10. I'm, uh, not mad or looking for trouble. I was mostly agreeing with you.

    If you're referring to my earlier comments about Tarzan's poor luck in adaptations, I'll admit to liking some of them. It's just that I'll take Conan the Destroyer over the WB's Tarzan any day of the week. I'm not mad... just not a fan.

    Where I disagree is that I don't think it would be that hard to pull the racism out of Tarzan. In fact, racial and political tension is a _goldmine_ for writing new Tarzan material. You just have to, you know, not write African characters as savages and dumbasses.

  11. Actually ERB tried to portray quality in individuals of ANY race, despite societal norms or standards.

    I enjoyed the Tarzan novels, but
    Since my blog is about most things
    Martian/ Barsoomian . . .

    It will be interesting to compare the faithfulness of upcoming Tarzan movies to Pixar's soon to be released (2012)
    John Carter of Mars.

  12. "Where I disagree is that I don't think it would be that hard to pull the racism out of Tarzan."

    Maybe. Although it seems a little weird that, when casting about for someone to handle the complex problems facing post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa in the 21st century, you'd settle on a guy who makes his literary debut by lynching a black guy. Seriously, it's Tarzan's first act as an adult, and the passage is pretty nauseating when you consider the context in which Burroughs was writing it.

  13. To clarify before someone takes offense: I should have said "one would settle on", not "you'd settle on". Directed, not at any commenter here, but at the producers behind this upcoming franchise reboot.