Although Bradley Cooper was not physically onscreen during this summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy as the feisty and volatile Rocket Raccoon, his role voicing the smallest defender of the universe put him squarely on the path to becoming a bonafide action star. That raccoon knew what he was doing around a ray gun. And no, starring in the 2010 reboot of The A-Team definitely does not count. Cooper has never been an actor who has sat idly in his roles, picking parts that run the gamut from comedy, to romance, to drama and satire; it’s a natural progression that transforming into an action star would be next.
Warner Bros. has a plan, acquiring the book rights to Mack Bolan, a character created by Don Pendleton, to create a starring vehicle for Cooper. The author chronicled Bolan in 37 novels often referred to as “The Mafia Wars,” but ghostwriters kept him alive in hundred of other serializations over the years. Bolan is a tough as nails anti-terrorist operative who is all-American and bleeds red, white and blue. He’s often in extremely sticky situations, but pulls himself out unscathed — usually with a new romantic conquest at his side at the end of the adventure. Think along the lines if James Bond were from Massachusetts and served as a Green Beret.
Along with Cooper, his The Hangover director Todd Phillips has also been nailed down for the project, with Shane Salerno (Avatar 4, Shaft) penning the script. It’s interesting to note that Salerno, Cooper and Phillips are also all producing the project together — Phillips and Cooper actually formed a producing label at Warner Bros. earlier this year. Clearly, they’re excited about taking Mack Bolan off the pages and onto the screen.
There’s good reason. Looking to how the first film performs, there is potential for an entire Bolan franchise, considering the sheer volume of material, and the popularity of its protagonist since its inception in 1969. Approximately 12 Bolan books are churned out each year, along with spinoff series, comics, graphic novels and audiobooks. This is a chance for Cooper to shine in what could be a very gritty, very violent and engrossing film. And he’s more than capable of doing it.
What will be interesting now is seeing how Cooper and Phillips work together to bring Bolan to life. The anti-terrorist operative (also nicknamed The Executioner) has been optioned for films several times in the past, including in 1972 with Steve McQueen starring and Richard Maibaum directing, and later with Burt Reynolds at the helm and Clint Eastwood as The Executioner. Cooper and Phillips have something to live up to on their hands.