Can Houdini Escape Superhero Treatment?


“The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero” by William Kalush and Larry Sloman was published in 2006. It’s a somewhat different look at the great magician and escape artist Harry Houdini.  The authors claim Houdini was a spy for the United States and Great Britian in the days leading up to World War One. The book is considered controversial not only because of the depiction of Houdini as a spy but the speculation that his death was payback from the spiritualists he debunked as con artists.

Summit Entertainment has bought the rights to the book and announced they have no intention of making a biopic about Houdini, but rather they’re taking the authors “First Superhero” subtitle to heart and want to make an action thriller using Houdini as a cross between Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes. To that end IGN has heard that the studio is lining up Kingdom of the Crystal Skull writer Jeff Nathanson to pen Houdini. IGN has said they have no confirmation of this, but say they’ve gotten this information from a reliable source.

The decision to turn Houdini into a cross between two fictional characters is, in my opinion, unfortunate. Houdini is a truly fascinating character deserving of a high quality biopic. He’s a legend as a magician and an escape artist and by all modern criteria was a superstar. Born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary he transformed himself into a larger than life presence. The reality of his life seems big enough. Why fictionalize an already fascinating man whose life is legendary?

What do you think? Should Houdini be used as a superhero character or should his life be portrayed in a biopic? Who do you think would be a good choice for the role?

Robin Ruinsky has been a writer since penning her autobiography in fourth grade. Along the way she's studied theater at Syracuse University, worked with Woody Allen starring most of the time on the cutting room floor. A segue into the punk rock scene followed but writing was always the main focus. She writes for various crafty, artsy magazines about people who make craftsy, artsy collectible things. But her first love is writing fiction and film criticism which some people think are the same thing.

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