One Punch Man, the widely acclaimed manga and anime series about a man who wants to be a hero ‘for fun,’ will be receiving a live-action Hollywood adaptation from the writing team behind the ‘Jumanji’ reboot and the Spider-Man spin-off film ‘Venom.’
In an exclusive published by Variety, Sony announced that Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner would be penning the film, with Avi Arad (Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and Ari Arad (Ghost in the Shell, Iron Man) set to produce.
According to insiders, “Sony is very high on the property given its popularity and the possibility of adding another franchise to the pipeline.”
But as with every announcement of a live-action Hollywood anime adaptation, memories of ‘Dragon Ball: Evolution,’ ‘Ghost in the Shell,’ and ‘Death Note’ flash across the minds of anime fans.
The constant mishandling of Japanese properties by Western media executives has instilled an inherent mistrust and skepticism among the very audiences the studios want to appeal to.
At this point, it seems as if anime fans have developed an automatic repulsion to hearing announcements that their favorite series’ are being adapted, which begs the question: does anyone really want a One Punch Man movie?
The series itself, created as a webcomic by ONE before being adapted as a full-blown manga by Eyeshield 21 creator Yusuke Murata in Shonen Jump Next and eventually receiving a popular anime adaptation, is undoubtedly incredible, charming, and unique.
Part of this unique identity is Saitama’s earnest and simple nature, which seem to stem from a childlike view of the concepts of heroism, best exemplified by his reason for wanting to become a superhero: for fun.
This idealism serves as a sharp contrast to the other heroes in the series who are more representative of contemporary superhero interpretations: visually exciting and complicated superhumans whose every action are so natural yet so explosive, with signature moves, transformations, and quips.
In fact, fantastical abilities, such as the explosive powers of Genos’ cyborg body or the bloody regeneration of Zombieman, would translate naturally to the silver screen.
The entirety of the One Punch Man franchise radiates an air of simplicity: from the crudely drawn original webcomic, to the very ordinary concept behind Saitama’s powers, to his overtly plain character design.
Underneath the flash and glamour of Murata’s intensely expressive art lies the message that even the ordinary can be extraordinary. After all, as Genos discovers after placing Saitama on a pedestal, the man he thought had mastered the art of heroics and combat still lives in a one-bedroom apartment and relies on local sales to save on groceries.
However, therein lies the biggest issue in adapting One Punch Man in particular. Can Hollywood restrain their characterization of Saitama? Will they be able to resist forcing his character into the ‘Marvel’ mold, turning him into a walking quip-machine, or even worse, a man who boasts about the power he possesses?
This is not to say Hollywood isn’t capable of conveying similar themes in their productions. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse focuses on a similar message that anyone can “wear the mask,” and the relationship between Miles Morales and Peter Parker holds many parallels to the one between Genos and Saitama.
Rather, it serves to ask who Hollywood believed they would be appealing to when giving the adaptation of a series full of subtlety and restraint to the writers of one of the least subtle superhero smash fests to ever grace theaters.
Fans still haven’t forgotten how Hollywood dropped the ball on one of the most classic, straight forward shonen mangas of all time in Dragon Ball: Evolution. Forgive them if they’re less than excited for their latest attempt.