The Rock Is Playing the World’s Best Superhero, Doc Savage

World’s Best Superhero
(Image credit: Unknown)

Is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson currently Hollywood’s biggest draw, the owner of its biggest set of traps and the world’s most versatile living actor? Let’s just go ahead and say yes to all three. Over the next couple of years you’ll be seeing him act opposite a building-sized werewolf in videogame adaptation Rampage, pay homage to Robin Williams in a remake of Jumanji, reprise the role David Hasselhoff made famous in Baywatch and voice the demigod Maui in Disney’s Moana. And, let’s not forget, he’s already played Hercules, the Tooth Fairy, a near-immortal scorpion monster and a gay Samoan bodyguard while spending more than a decade “selling” Stone Cold Stunners in the WWE. Your move, Ruffalo.

Anyway: the big man’s latest announcement is that he’s set to play Doc Savage, the Man of Bronze, in Lethal Weapon scribe Shane Black’s upcoming film. Doc predates Superman (his first adventure came out in 1935, comfortably beating the Man of Steel’s 1938 debut) and, although he also has an Arctic fortress and metal-themed nickname, is completely badass in his own right. Here’s why you should be excited – and possibly start modelling your life on his.

He’s the ultimate physical specimen

No powers-from-the-sun japery here. Trained from birth by his scientist father to have near-superhuman strength and endurance, the Doc’s also a master of martial arts and capable of astonishing gymnastic feats. Who better to play him, then, than a man who hits the gym six days a week, punishing film schedule be damned? Remember: if a man as busy as The Rock can get to the gym, we can all get to the gym.

He’s as smart as he is jacked

We’ll let The Rock field this one. “Doc was physically and mentally trained from birth by his father and a team of scientists to become the perfect human specimen with a genius level intellect,” the creator of the People’s Elbow explained in his Instagram post announcing his involvement in the project. “He can even identify a women’s perfume from half a mile away. He is literally the master of everything.” That’s one hell of a LinkedIn profile.

He has his own physical development programme

Batman’s template for peak mental and physical fitness is well established, but near-impossible to follow: be born a billionaire, suffer traumatic event, travel world learning martial arts. In contrast, Doc Savage’s method of self-development couldn’t be simpler. Published across 23 issues of Doc Savage Magazine, it advocates household exercises like V-sitssmelling tiny bottles of vinegar and punching yourself in the stomach while reciting Rudyard Kipling poems. In case you’re interested, the magazine also followed up with a guide to jiu jitsu, Doc Savage style. It is gloriously insane.

He has the best moral code

Spider-Man has “With great power comes great responsibility”. Homer (Iliad, not Simpsons) has “Heroes value honour above life”. Even Bill and Ted have “Be excellent to each other”. Superman thinks he’s above all that. Doc Savage does not. This is his:

“Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, that all may profit by it. Let me think of the right and lend all my assistance to those who need it, with no regard for anything but justice. Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage. Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens and my associates in everything I say and do. Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.”

And if that doesn’t make you want to punch the air and do some press-ups… well, we don’t know what to say to you.

He’s basically Indiana Jones, but much better

Savage starred in 181 books (almost all of them written by the same man), and any one of them could have been an – admittedly bonkers – Indiana Jones film. Ancient Vikings attacking luxury yachts? Egyptian pharaohs terrorizing New York? Invisible Nazis?! Yes, we’re all praying Indy 5 resurrects the franchise – or that Chris Pratt can somehow make the whip and fedora his – but right now, the man who invented yelling “It doesn’t matter!” at people is our last, best hope for some proper archaeological Luftwaffe-bashing.

Doc Savage comic books are available from Dynamite Comics

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.