John Woo to produce superhero movie based on Stan Lee's Monkey Master

Monkey Master is currently in development and John Woo may also take on the role of director. PHOTO: GRAPHIC INDIA

Hong Kong director John Woo is set to produce a superhero movie based on Stan Lee's Monkey Master.

The film will follow a New York City archaeologist Li Yong, who discovers an ancient prophecy about the Chinese legend of the Monkey King that leads him to India, where he is transformed into a superhero.

Based on an unreleased comic book series created by the late Marvel comics writer Lee and collaborator Sharad Devarajan, the movie is currently in development and Woo may also take on the role of director.

"I have always wanted to make a film based on the Monkey King story of China but have struggled with a new way to present it," said Woo, who is known for action blockbusters such as Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), Face/Off (1997) and cult classic A Better Tomorrow (1986).

"The story by Stan Lee was such a unique version of it that incorporated the mythological character's unexplored journey to India and had all the elements I enjoy in film-making - great characters, action and adventure."

Lee, who co-created popular superheroes such as Spider-Man, Ant-Man and the X-Men, had previously spoken about Monkey Master in 2016, saying: "I have always been fascinated by the Chinese and Indian cultures which are so philosophical and rich in tradition and morality.

"I've written countless superheroes of every nationality and every part of the world before, I've even created many heroes from other planets and galaxies, but Monkey Master will be unique in how it interweaves myth to create a modern-day hero that will entertain fans across the world with his martial arts skills and unstoppable super-powers."

Lee's characters, which span the Marvel universe and beyond, have generated more than US$32 billion (S$43 billion) at the global box office, according to entertainment magazine Variety.

Devarajan, who had collaborated with Lee on Indian superhero Chakra: The Invincible, said: "Stan Lee was a mentor and friend who was one of the most influential creators of the 20th century. His characters are the modern mythologies of our time, transcending nations and culture and speaking to us in the primal language of human imagination."

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