Lewis, Tolkien, Williams — superheroes!

There once was a time when C.S. Lewis (the inventor of Narnia), J.R.R. Tolkien (the inventor of Hobbits), and Charles Williams — known collectively as “the Inklings” — wrote stories about fictitious people who had fantastic adventures. Now other people are writing stories in which it is the Inklings themselves who have the fantastic adventures.

Three years ago, Image Comics released Heaven’s War, in which the Inklings confront Aleister Crowley shortly before World War II.

And now, the Hollywood Reporter, via Reuters, reports:

Warner Bros. Pictures has pre-emptively picked up the rights to “Here, There Be Dragons,” an upcoming children’s novel by James A. Owen.

The book brings together three strangers — John, Jack and Charles — in London during World War I, where they become entrusted with the Imaginarium Geographica, an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. They end up traveling to the Archipelago of Dreams, fighting the dark forces that threaten two worlds. It is later revealed that the three are future fantasy authors J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, who met in real life at Oxford and enjoyed a competitive friendship.

The book is being launched next week by Simon & Schuster with a massive hardcover printing of 100,000 copies and is one of the company’s big pushes for the year. The plan is to release six more books, one each October.

It will be produced for the studio by “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman, and David Goyer, the creative force behind the “Blade” movies. . . .

I cannot help but wonder what the estates of Lewis and Tolkien, which have been so vocal about the recent films based on their works, might have to say about all this. Apparently this series will depict the Inklings traipsing through all sorts of public-domain myths and legends — the stories that inspired their own feats of imagination — but will we get any glimpses of the Inklings’ own fantasy worlds? Or will those be out of bounds — kind of like how Backbeat (1994) depicted the young Beatles playing covers of songs by other artists, instead of their own compositions?

And I cannot help but wonder how the actor playing Jack will compare to Joss Ackland and Anthony Hopkins, who played the older Lewis in the 1985 and 1993 versions of Shadowlands.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16585448294140456816 Alan Chattaway

    Watch for references to “Boxen” in this movie. I expect to see it marked on a map…

  • magnus

    *Shiver* I just have this sick feeling like we’ll see Heath Ledger in the role of Tolkien, Hugh Jackman as C.S. Lewis and Jude Law as Charles Williams.

  • mag-o-nus

    Well, I guess that Heath Ledger will be unavailable.