Following on the heels of successful franchises such as X-Men and Spider-Man, Dark Horse Comics is looking to warm up some properties of its own for theatrical reproduction. While not quite the heavyweight that the Fantastic Four or Iron Man will be, Deathlok is certainly a story that lends itself to a big screen presentation.
In point of fact, you have probably already seen a couple of movies similar in theme to Deathlok already. Those would be Robocop, The Terminator, The Matrix and even Star Trek: First Contact.
In case you haven't already guessed it, Deathlok is a cyborg. In the comic books, the anti-hero is a military patsy who is unwittingly duped into a medical procedure. The end result of this operation is that where once there had been a man named Luther Manning, there is now machine with a codename of Deathlok.
The problem is that the revolutionary procedure has an unexpected side effect. The humanity remains within the borg, creating undesired outbreaks of prior life memories which military officials cannot eliminate from the code. With what remains of the man under the control of the assembly language of the machine, Deathlok grows to be an easily controlled puppet for those who have the tech savvy to re-write his command directives.
The movie version of Deathlok promises to veer slightly. Taking the general concept of a man automated against his will, it will diverge from the comic story in a basic capacity. Instead of being a military official, the person who becomes enslaved within the machine shell is a family man. He unknowingly falls prey to a government research project that needs a body donor (though they obviously don't describe it that way).
The decision to de-militarize Deathlok is a straightforward attempt to humanize the cyborg by victimizing him. A military colonel who okays his usage in shadowy military projects is a less sympathetic hero than someone forced against their will to participate. This is key because in the comic books, Deathlok is more often a manipulated henchman for a villain than a superhero. In order to make him the good guy, some tweaks are needed to the basic mix.
In evaluating Deathlok's appeal in comparison to other recent Marvel properties, it's fair to say this production has nowhere near the built-in appeal of Daredevil, a well known title that received a great deal of enhanced recognition due to some high-profile runs from writers such as Kevin Smith. It's not even a Hellboy. Star power concerns aside, that comic is one of the most popular current listings among insiders. It's even recognized as one of the most popular books with the artists who create comics. Many of them describe it as a favorite.
With Deathlok, more of a wait and see approach is required. It seems like much more of a Man-Thing type adaptation than a potential tentpole release. The two comic books also share the similarity of being predicated on characters who are more accurately described as circumstance-created bad guys rather than heroes. (David Mumpower/BOP)