‘Sgt. Rock’ reloads as movie project — but not as a WWII story

Feb. 01, 2010 | 11:56 p.m.

Sgt Rock

Producer Joel Silver says the long-discussed Hollywood adaptation of the “Sgt. Rock” combat comic books has new life — but the leader of Easy Company won’t be fighting the good fight in 1940s Europe this time around.

Silver said the plan now is for the old warhorse of DC Comics to serve his country in the not-too-distant future. The idea of a future battlefield setting has reinvigorated a property that has flirted with the big screen for decades. 

“I’m really close on that now,” Silver said of the “Sgt. Rock” film. “What we’ve done is gone back to it and we’ve done a new draft that actually came in this week. We have a shot at that one now. I feel good about it. That one might happen.”

The army sergeant celebrated his 50th anniversary last year — Rock’s first appearance was in “Our Army at War” No. 83 in the summer of 1959. Created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, the tales of Rock and the soldiers of Easy Company were action-packed but they also played out as grim parables about war, patriotism, duty and despair. In his infantry boots, Frank Rock was a steely but soulful American everyman, adept at combat but never at ease with the bloodshed around him.

In the 1980s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was prepared to play the G.I. hero and John Milius and David Peoples had a script together that would have changed the soldier’s heritage to explain the action star’s Austrian accent. That project petered out but Rock’s name came up again as a film property, most notably when director Guy Ritchie was planning on directing a version set in World War II with Silver as producer and, it was rumored, Bruce Willis in the title role. That was the plan as recently as 2008.

Maybe “Inglorious Basterds” and its scruffy band of battlefield characters was too close to the ethos of vintage “Sgt. Rock” and its cast of characters, which included Bulldozer, the beefy but not-so-bright corporal; Little Sure Shot, the Apache sniper; and Joseph “Wild Man” Shapiro, a history professor known for his combat rages. Either way, it now looks like Rock’s call to duty in Hollywood will be a fight for the future.

“It’s a little bit in the future,” Silver said of the setting. “As a war movie, it’s not going to be ‘where it’s been,’ it’s going to be ‘where it’s going.’ We didn’t want to do Iraq, we didn’t want to do a contemporary war. We wanted to do a sort of futuristic war. It’s pretty strong. Chad St. John wrote the script and we’ve got Francis Lawrence involved in developing it with us. It’s not a ‘go’ movie yet but I’m feeling good about it.”

— Geoff Boucher

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40 Responses to ‘Sgt. Rock’ reloads as movie project — but not as a WWII story

  1. Buck Rogers(really) says:

    I’ve never liked DC comics at all. I’m a member of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. However, I use to read Sgt. Rock and loved every issue. Please, Mr. Silver, do not do this to Sgt. Rock’s image.o

  2. Batjag says:

    This sounds like a terrible idea. The only possible cachet the character has is as a WWII hero. The only people who will even recognize the name Sgt. Rock are nerds like me who will be upset about the silly change of setting. Why not just slap a new title on the future war script? That way everybody's happy.

  3. Eric says:

    I'm not even a big Sgt. Rock fan and I think this is a stupid idea. There are a few comic book concepts that will become global successes simply because the characters are so well known outside of the comics themselves (Spiderman, Superman, Batman). The rest of the characters should be looked at solely in terms of the fans of the comics, because that's the bulk of your audience. If you set the movie in a different time period, not only will it get lumped with all the other movies that deal with that same concept, but it won't appeal to its intended fan base either. Sounds like a lose-lose situation to me.

  4. Eveyone is looking for best selling comics to be re created on silver screen. I wish all the good luck for Joel Silver.

  5. I hope for a Modern Warfare 2 / Navy Seal type movie… A special forces movie with advanced weapons and action that isn't over the top.
    But hollywood will botch it for sure!
    Chuck the CAPper <a href="http://www.AskACapper.com” target=”_blank”>www.AskACapper.com

  6. Midnight Max says:

    Big fan of "The Rock of Easy"- won't be checking out Silver and Lawrence's "vision" in any way. This is an awful idea from people who have no love or even interest in the character whatsoever. Hopefully they drop it entirely.
    These guys think that a gritty, R rated hero story set in WWII can't work for some reason, that it can't possibly be popular or make money- I guess they haven't heard of a little movie made last year called "Inglourious Basterds"

    • Nelson says:

      they haven't heard of "Saving Private Ryan" either. Sgt Rock deserves to be in his time and setting, not in some futuristic scene that will give no relevance to those of us who grew up reading the comic!

  7. KD says:

    I rarely go to the theater to watch movies anymore. This is why. A movie that I would definitely fork over the money to see, the powers that be in Follywood want to foul it up. I can just picture Ice Cream Soldier asking Sgt. Rock what he thought about the idea to change the story setting of the men of Easy from something known and familiar to the fans of the comic book, to something unknown and unfamiliar to them. I can see Rock, hearing the question, looking up slightly from under his helmet, his eyes shaded, his face grimy from battle, and simply saying…….."SNAFU"

  8. Greg T says:

    BOOOO! Sgt Rock is a WWII comic, if your not going to use the source material, why even bother?

  9. dosshie says:

    Stick with WWII damn it you Hollywood douche bags.
    I'd love to see a good WWII action movie. It doesn't have to be like Basterds which wasnt much of an action movie anyway. WWII movies can be fun like Kelly's Hero's and the Dirty Dozen.

  10. David says:

    Check out "The Big Red One" with Lee Marvin. Reminds me of Sgt. Rock. Also stars Mark Hamil from Star Wars.

  11. Joe C. says:

    Once again they take a comic book that has a degree of popularity and do the dumbest thing possible, they change it. People, LEARN from past mistakes like the awful Catwoman, Barb Wire & others. If you take a character an "reimagine " that character it it NEVER NEVER a hit movie.
    I know you want the next Spider-man, Batman or Xmen. Yes they made changes too but they kept most of the original ideas and spirit of the characters. When someone like Joel Silver takes an established character who is known as a WW2 fighter and moves him to a different he changes what that character is to the movie and the reason people read the exploits of that character in the first place. Fans get mad and refuse to see it thus killing the buzz for the movie and the base audience.
    Look at the history of superhero movies and you will see it hasnt worked for a single movie. To reimagine the character means doom. Just call him SGT. Granite or something and make it a totally new character. This doesnt work and never will work. Do the homework be loyal to the core story and you may have a movie property like Ironman or Batman,Alter the core of it and you get a Razzie and a movie you cant sell on DVD for $2.
    Rock's fate is in your hands….

  12. chris says:

    As one that still has many of the original comic books done by the great Kanigher and Kubert team , it's really an insult NOT to have this in WWII.
    That is the whole point, it's a great comic where they illustrated in 'graphic novel' terms, that ALL races have the same color blood as shown in the episode where a Black US soldier gives a transfusion to a Nazi to save his life back in the early 60's.
    There should be a movie about Johnny Cloud also, the first American Indian hero I can remember that flew P-51 Mustangs above the clouds to fight for this country…now THAT would be great.

  13. Jeff K. says:

    fanboys are usually so ignorant of the whole idea of a film. Film is not text and print. Any film, by its very nature, is a re-imagining, once you take into account all of the different people involved in creating the film. As such, Sgt. Rock should be re-imagined, because the whole ethos was not about a specific war in a specific time, but about the idea of war. For all I care, it could be Easy fighting invading aliens, as long as the script is solid and interesting, and not just a visual and sound effects orgy.

  14. Bill says:

    @Jeff K
    But if you're going to do that, why make it Sgt. Rock at all? Why not come up with a totally different character? It would still work for what you want and wouldn't tick off fans of Sgt. Rock. To me, this sounds like they want to make a particular movie (i.e. a war movie set in the "not-too-distant future"), but are afraid no one would go to see it, so they tack the "Sgt. Rock" name on it, hoping to lure in fans of the comic to their (completely different) story.

  15. Bill says:

    To continue with my earlier thought:
    Think of the Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick. The filmmakers decided to not just update the movie with modern CGI, but to completely change the look of the monster. Then he attacked New York instead of Tokyo, then they made Godzilla female, instead of male. What happened? It bombed. Why? Not 100% sure, but my guess is that fans of the Japanese Godzilla movies hated all the changes and no one else cared enough about Godzilla to actually pay to see the film.
    Or take the "Honeymooners" film. They changed the main characters. Fans of the show hated that, non-fans didn't care either way and no one went to see it.
    Same thing with changing comic book characters for film.
    That said, can you make some changes or tweaks for films? Sure. Can you be **too** faithful to the source material? Absolutely. But you have to stay true to the core characters or the fans won't come out. And they're the ones who make these types of films successful.

  16. Bill Langston says:

    Bad idea> This is a classic comic from an unforgettable era and to "upgrade" to some postmodernistic war concept is a slap in the face of those who inspired and created this story.
    Who will want to go see it?

  17. Honestrob says:

    That is the worst idea I have ever heard.
    If he does this, Joel Silver and his films are dead to me.

  18. Gevalher says:

    This is absolutely the worst idea ever for a well respected, established, and beloved comic book character, not to mention a TOTAL DISRESPECT TO WWII ERA, THE AMERICAN VETERANS AND TO THE FANS OF SGT. ROCK!!!
    Please, abort this stupid idea of setting a well known character out of his time, and do a nice action movie in the time it should be done. Given that Marvel respected the time period and origin of Captain America, and will make a WWII movie, they have guaranteed anticipatedly mi attention and more important my desire to spend money on that (if the movie rocks, I'll pay several visites to the theaters).
    PLEASE RESPECT THE ORIGIN, THE ERA, AND THE REAL SPIRIT OF SGT. ROCK! (Ideas like this is the reason Marvel is rocking while DC is sucking.)

  19. Gevalher says:

    I've just read some other comments, I almost everyone else HATED THE IDEA. If this film is made the way they intended, I personally make a vow of never paying again for any movie that carries the names of Joel Silver and associates…

  20. HI2124 says:

    They screwed up Starsky & Hutch and now they will screw up Sgt. Rock!!

  21. Devlin says:

    Please don't do this. It should be what The Bastards should have been…about the Bastards not a German movie theater. I'm a big Sgt. Rock fan and I hope this goes away. Just call it Buck Rogers and make whatever you want.

  22. Babajon says:

    Please don't take Sgt. Rock out of WW2. It's where he belongs! It's like they said in the Army…"If it's not broken, do'nt fix it!"

  23. Crimsonrain says:

    lol…two words to describe this movie "Jonah Hex"

  24. Jon says:

    I don't get it. With all the WWII timeless hype why couldn't they get a purely WWII character to be in WWII?!

    Seeing Sergeant Rock in a futuristic war is like seeing Napoleon Bonaparte paradrop in Dien Bien Phu. Its bookoo dinki, l'empereur!

  25. Santa says:

    It's hard for me to imagine Sgt Rock as set in any time but WWII, when then enemy was clearly identifiable and the message was anti-war. I read all of them, from the first issue up until my 18th birthday (but didn't save even one). I wasn't inclined to see "Inglorious Basterds" because of the admiration I still feel for my father, uncles, and fathers of friends, all of whom served in either the Pacific or European theatres. Personally, I'd prefer the WWII setting, even though there's the awkwardness imparted by the fact that our former enemies are now our friends. I'd rather Sgt Rock be left completely alone than have them done this way. Why not Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos???

  26. Hyeeb says:

    Agreed. Really screwed up idea. You might as well rename the character and create a new franchise from scratch.

  27. Bobby says:

    Worst movie idea since… yeah, that Greedo thing. I've been dying for a Sgt. Rock movie. And now it's not really even Sgt. Rock? Too lame. I won't be there.

  28. Brad says:

    Terrible idea. Stay true to what makes SGT Rock who and what he is. Move forward with this stupid idea of Easy CO in some "future" war, and you'll have a Jonah Hex on your hands.

  29. the anti hero says:

    just watch saving private ryan n pretend is sgt rock!

  30. abel says:

    ill just watch saving private ryan n pretend is sgt rock! thatll do for me

  31. Rockfan says:

    Rock Belongs in WW2!!!! Not in some future-written crap piece! You suck Silverman if you change the script. Willis would have kicked butt as WW2 Rock too! He was born to play that role!

  32. DCisKING says:

    When i saw that they said that they were going to make it more future i didnt think “FUTURE”.. i thought maybe vietnam.. and was ok but, future combat noooo.. just look what happened when FUTURE butchered Blackhawks.. probally one of the greatest war comics next to sgt.Rock, and Enemy Ace… i will still see it if it does come out , but im not expecting gold

  33. JROD says:

    ww2 was an era of amazing people that should not be forgotten. if you change it to the future you're disgracing what the people of the era scarificed. I myself have been a soldier for 15 years. It would piss me off if they did something like this to my generation. Granted it was and and is a comic, but some things need not be messed with. sure the story can change but the only reason Rock was even made was because of the war.

  34. JIM GROOVER says:


  35. Bill Wyld says:

    You Hollywood Big-Shots have been doing this for the past 10 freakin years or so. You take a well known,much loved Icon and you and your big-fat,new-fungled ideas and turn it into crap. I can tell you now,myself along with all the other Sgt.Rock fans on here would produce an A#1 5-Star movie block buster without even a sweat,and we wouldnt take 20 freakin years to do it either!!!….NO TO THE JOEL SILVER-SGT.ROCK MOVIE PROJECT!!!

  36. Pat Tarr says:

    I say we have to keep Sgt Rock in WW II. I have been a fan for 35 years. If you want to make this different from other comic book movies then go by the comic and Sgt Rock history, Sgt Rock dies in WW II. I have written the basic script and used WW II history to back it up. The fighting for the Remagen Bridge in 1945 would be the place for this final action of Easy Co. Just like in life and combat people die they don't return home.

  37. crazy8 says:

    Yep never ceases to amaze me how people can screw things up… Rock and Easy company will always be WWII heroes … period ….Anything else would be garbage

  38. Greg says:

    Growing up with "Our Army at War" comics in the 1960's was unforgettable as a child. DC Comics had the best World War II stories…PERIOD. Do not attempt to "modernize" Sgt. Rock in a futuristic world. This has not worked in the past, as movie makers tried to resurrect comic heroes in a different role. World War II army comics are becoming a lost art. We need to keep a link to this great heritage.

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