As many readers will recall. I went to see ‘Legend Of Tarzan’ last week. And having gone in with low expectations. I was generally happy with the film. But for the longest time. I’ve been thinking that the films should really start to look at the more fantastical adventures that Burroughs wrote. Especially now that we have the technology to pull them off.
Ever since the first Tarzan movie hit cinema in the very early 20th century. The writers have always focused on the ‘Tarzan The Ape Man’ story and spun things off from that. Which in the 21st century feels a little out of step with these times.
The films have done a lot over the years to continue ‘Tarzan’s’ legacy, but none have ever really taken advantage of some of the more offbeat ‘Tarzan’ adventures that Edgar Rice Burroughs did.
In the books Tarzan possesses superhuman strength, but also speaks over 25 languages as well as being able to communicate with the animals. The fascination with Tarzan has always been about the duel nature he has. On one hand he is a noble gentleman with a title, but at the same time he is a feral and dangerous person that can switch his inner beast on at the flip of a coin.
For me ‘Legend Of Tarzan’ is a promising start. Despite its issues. The Tarzan we seen in the film had the fierce intelligence from the books as well as the strength. That is despite getting his butt kicked by his ape brother. The problem was. The film was far to grounded in our world. I also felt the stab at trying to tell a historical story was a little iffy. Especially given that things end with an truce of sorts.
If they make a second film with this new incarnation of Tarzan. I feel the writers need to ditch history and create a new history for Tarzan. We know he is the lord of Greystoke. We know he is king of the jungle. All of that is established and has been for a long time. What we should be seeing know is Tarzan exploring the unexplored areas of the Kongo. Going to parallel worlds and battling all manner of unusual creatures and meeting aliens.
One of Burroughs books titled ‘Tarzan At The Earths Core’ sees Tarzan meeting cavemen and battling dinosaurs. Now we have seen this angle of the character in the comics and books, and to some extent in the 70’s animated series as well as the Joe Lara series from the early 90’s. But its never featured in any of the films.
The fact is. As a character. Tarzan is far more than just the Lord Of The Jungle. He was for my money and most in the know. The worlds first superhero. Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster are on record for having borrowed from ‘Tarzan’ when creating ‘Superman.’ Yet to date we have never seen any of Tarzan’s more outlandish adventures make it to the big screen.
So if we do see more adventures on the big screen. The film makers should look at the more imaginative and outlandish adventures instead of trying to tell stories from a historical point of view. Create a new big screen history for the character that sees him battle dinosaurs and maybe even do a spot of time travel.
You can learn more about Edgar Rise Burroughs Tarzan Stories here.