The classic vine-swinging, jungle-dwelling hero Tarzan may have a future on the big screen once again. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Sony has grabbed the film rights to Edgar Rice Burroughs‘s classic pulp story from his estate with the hopes of breathing new life into the property. Reportedly, Sony is aiming for a “total reinvention” of the character with the goal of reintroducing him to a new, modern audience. Currently, no creatives are on board the project.
Tarzan is a tale as old as time and one many viewers will be familiar with even if they haven’t seen any films with the character in it. It follows a boy left alone in the jungle and raised by apes into adulthood. Upon meeting his beloved Jane, however, he decides to leave the jungle in order to be with her, marrying her and settling down in London. His experiences in civilization only convince him of how vicious society really is, opting to return to the jungles of Africa to continue being a great hero and explorer. Originally beginning publication in 1912, the stories of Tarzan would go on to become favorites and would inevitably be translated to film and television. Perhaps the most famous adaptation is Disney’s animated version in 1999 featuring Tony Goldwyn as Tarzan, Minnie Driver as Jane, and a soundtrack done by the legendary Phil Collins.
The last time viewers saw Tarzan in feature form came back in 2016 when Alexander Skarsgård embodied the Ape Man in David Yates‘s The Legend of Tarzan. While it was a big blockbuster moment for the character, and it included an all-star cast, the reception was less than favorable for a number of reasons. Most notably, the Tarzan story has since earned a lot of scrutiny thanks to being a product of its time. The original Tarzan tales are full of outdated notions of masculinity and colonialism as well as racism.
Sony hopes to avoid the pitfalls of previous iterations, retaining the story of a feral orphaned child in the woods without touching on its less savory facets. Disney‘s Tarzan was able to sanitize the story, taking a more original angle and simply using the characters and base ideas of Burroughs’s story to tell their own tale. Although unsuccessful, The Legend of Tarzan tried to correct some of the story’s wrongs too, attempting to make Jane much less of a damsel in distress and tackling the racism of the original. So far, Sony hasn’t outlined a plan for a modern update, and it’ll be a challenge to make a version of the tale that meets modern standards and can capture a modern audience.
Stay tuned here at Collider for more on Sony‘s Tarzan as it comes out.