As many of you may have heard yesterday, there is a new Shaft movie in the works (click HERE to read more). Almost immediately, the questions started coming my way. Most people want to know if I’m involved (because I’m currently writing the comic for Dynamite Entertainment), or if I know anything about the film. The answer to both questions is a resounding “no.” I am not involved in any capacity at this time, nor has anyone from New Line or Davis Entertainment reached out to me. I learned about the film a little over a month ago, as I began snooping around about the film/television rights (I was approached by some producers who wanted to look into doing a Shaft cable series). Between the lot of us, we found out that the property was in play over at New Line, so we filed that idea under “Dreams That Must Be Crushed.”
Don’t forget the check out the Shaft comic from Dynamite. I wrote it. It is awesome.
I wish I could say that I’m excited about the prospect of a new Shaft movie, but that would be a lie. This is not said out of pettiness because I’m not involved in the project. This is said because that last screen version was terrible. It was an affront to the original films, and more important, it was an affront to the novels by Ernest Tidyman. Even the original films, which I enjoy and appreciate, don’t do justice to Tidyman’s novel, or the depth of the character. Likewise, the television series was a joke. And perhaps most significantly, it’s been a long time since Hollywood has cranked out a truly satisfying action film with a black actor in the lead (notable exceptions would be The Equalizer [maybe] and Django Unchained). So you see, I don’t have much hope for a new Shaft.
That said—and because so many people have been asking (and will continue to ask)—here are some of my thoughts on the new film as a whole.
Gbenga Akinnagbe from The Wire is my top choice to play John Shaft.
– Cast the best actor possible. My top suggestion is Gbenga Akinnagbe (Chris Partlow on The Wire).
– Make it a period piece. And don’t treat it like a joke. Black culture of the late 1960s and 1970s is more than a series of jokes punctuated with afros and bellbottoms.
– Forget the Singelton movie existed. Hell, forget the first three movies existed. Stick to the original source material (Tidyman’s books).
– Either adapt the first Tidyman book, or do something original.
– Respect the character over the concept. Tidyman created a great character, but much of that was lost in the translation to film. If there is a single reason the Shaft comic is good, it is because I respected the character created by Tidyman.
– Hire me. Or at least hire a writer than can craft believable black characters, and not sad cinematic clichés. I can provide a list of writers other than myself.