Well, today we add one more title to the long string of popular anime franchises set for a live-action Hollywood film. Sony has just greenlit a live-action One Punch Man.
Rosenberg and Pinkner are the writing team behind Sony’s Venom, starring Tom Hardy, which was a breakout box office hit despite its relatively mediocre reviews, and both Jumanji reboots – Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jumanji: The Next Level. I only saw the first one, but it was way better than it had any right to be.
Arad Productions is behind Spider-man: Far From Home as well as the upcoming Venom and Into the Spider-Verse sequels. Avi Arad has produced a whole host of superhero films (mostly Marvel) and is attached to even more.
One Punch Man, created by ONE, debuted in 2009 as a webcomic. It quickly went viral and was given a manga remake in 2012, with illustrations by Yusuke Murata. The first season of the critically-acclaimed anime premiered in 2015 and was a huge success; the highly-anticipated second season finally dropped in 2019. There has also been a mobile and console game.
Sony is apparently very excited about this, given One Punch Man‘s massive global popularity. No doubt they spy another franchise opportunity on the horizon. If the live-action One Punch Man is successful, countless other films in the universe could follow.
The main concerns that fans seem to have are a) can a live-action One Punch Man actually work and b) will they adapt canon material or make a standalone story? (Also the equally important but generally considered to be implied c) WHY?!?!?!)
As for the first concern, only time will tell. Sony’s resume includes some fairly decent superhero films, so it’s not like they don’t know how to do special effects and action sequences. One Punch Man features monsters as well as superheroes, and while some of the heroes look like regular humans (Saitama, Metal Bat, Tornado), some of them are mostly cyborg (Genos) or… whatever the heck Pig God is.
So, yes, One Punch Man could potentially work as a live-action film, but it really all depends on the quality of the special effects.
The bigger problem is the story itself. One Punch Man is a satire of the superhero genre, and oftentimes a film studio will sort of miss the point of a satire when adapting it. Not to mention, one of the main reasons these film versions fail is because they try to cram too much of the story into the movie and end up explaining too little because there simply isn’t time.
There isn’t much to explain about One Punch Man, to be perfectly honest, that couldn’t be summed up fairly quickly (tldr; monsters, hero association, Saitama is OP), but then you run into the question of which arc to adapt. Can any of the current arcs be adequately condensed into the average running time of a typical Hollywood movie? What do you keep? What do you leave out?
It isn’t fair to judge a film before it’s even started production (but we all do it anyway!), and lots of deals get inked and then never see the light of day, so we all may be spitting ire for no reason. In general, I’m of the opinion that if it can be done well, then I welcome anything that will both bring new fans to a title I love and hopefully help remove the stigma some people still have about anime.
What do you think about a live-action One Punch Man? Who would you cast?
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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