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Toxic Avenger Reboot In Development At Legendary

The first superhero from New Jersey is headed back to the big screen.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, a reboot of the campy '80s cult classic The Toxic Avenger is in the works at Legendary Entertainment. No writer or director has yet been announced.

A superhero splatter film from directing duo Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (then credited by his pseudonym Samuel Weil) and B-movie production company Troma Entertainment, the original Toxic Avenger told the tale of scrawny, 98-pound New Jersey teenager Melvin Ferd (Mark Torgl) and his slip-and-fall accident into a drum of highly flammable toxic waste. An on-fire Melvin eventually put out the flames and survived the incident, but the damage had already been done: the chemicals mutated his body into a massive, grotesquely deformed creature with superhuman abilities. 

Legendary's hope for the reboot is that it will establish a foundation from which a full-fledged Toxic Avenger franchise can bloom. 

The Toxic Avenger certainly isn't as popular as any Marvel Cinematic Universe or DC Extended Universe installment, its title hero isn't as dashing as, say, Chris Evans' Captain America, and the film as a whole sounds almost too bizarre to be real – but the flick managed to gain a strong cult after it premiered in midnight showings in 1985 and found continued success in the years that followed its debut. The unique comedy spawned three sequels – The Toxic Avenger Part II, The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie, and Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV — as well as the children's animated spin-off series Toxic Crusaders

Though the show didn't last long and plans for the movie reboot that was announced in 2010 ultimately fell through, The Toxic Avenger has remained on the Hollywood radar for a while, with discussions about rebooting the property stirring up every few years. 

In 2013, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Arnold Schwarzenegger was being eyed to star in a new reimagining, which, at the time, had Hot Tub Time Machine helmer Steve Pink on board as director. 

Flash forward to 2016, when Conrad Vernon, who co-helmed the raunchy animated feature Sausage Party alongside Seth Rogen, was slated to get behind the wheel and direct a new Toxic Avenger, then billed as a "more grounded and mainstream telling of the story." 

At that time, Richard Saperstein of Storyscape Entertainment praised Vernon as a "subversive comedic genius," adding that he was the "perfect director to bring this iconoclastic franchise back to life." Vernon himself gushed about his love for the character and expressed excitement about taking the reins on an updated version of the hero's story: "The opportunity to re-imagine a favorite cult-classic from my high school years is an honor. Toxie is an underground icon. My favorite kind."

There's no telling what happened to Vernon's ties to the Toxic Avenger reboot, but based on this recent news, it's evident that he's no longer attached as director now that Legendary has its hands on the property. 

Regardless of who ends up directing Legendary's The Toxic Avenger, the film is bound to shake up the superhero landscape — possibly in a big way. The genre is growing more powerful and domineering over other types of cinema (seeming to have the upper-hand over most dramas, comedies, and horrors) with each new offering — and its only going to get bigger as Marvel and DC Films roll out films like Aquaman, Shazam!, Captain Marvel, Avengers: EndgameSpider-Man: Far From Home, and many more in the next year alone. Bringing Toxie into the fold would enhance the existing humor of the MCU, offset the darkness of the DCEU, and potentially encourage studios to greenlight more films of its kind.

Legendary has a huge opportunity here with The Toxic Avenger – so long as the studio makes the right moves in its reimagining, striking the perfect balance between honoring the over-the-top nature of the original and crafting a new tone that's a little more palatable for the mainstream. 

Check back with Looper for more updates on the Toxic Avenger reboot as they come in.