Forget Indiana Jones. If you're making a period-piece adventure these days, you might want to consider putting the whip, wooden stake or pistol in the hand of a long-gone world leader or esteemed author.
It may sound a bit strange, but that's the message coming back from pop culture at the moment. Consider the fact that, at bookstores right now, Abe Lincoln and Queen Victoria
are each taking on dark supernatural threats and that Hollywood has plans to turn Charles Dickens, H.P. Lovecraft and Leonardo da Vinci into on-screen action heroes.
The new novel "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also brought the world "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies") is getting enthusiastic reviews, as is "Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter," which Los Angeles Times book reviewer Nick Owchar called "wildly entertaining."
Hollywood, meanwhile, is getting into the history-book mindset with a flurry of projects.
Ron Howard, who knows his way around spooky libraries and crypts after "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels & Demons," has plans to adapt "The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft," the Image Comics series that pits the author against some of the same sort of ancient beasties that filled his novels.
Just announced, meanwhile, is "Leonardo da Vinci and the Soldiers of Forever," a Warner Bros. and Prime Universe project that would pit Italian artist and thinker Leonardo against "biblical demons in a story involving secret codes, lost civilizations, hidden fortresses and fallen angels," as it was summed up at the Heat Vision blog, which first reported the venture. (Who might star in it? That was the playful question asked by Patrick Goldstein of the Big Picture, who is not impressed with idea of the "Mona Lisa"
painter as action hero.)
But wait, there's more. Guillermo del Toro also has plans to adapt the 2008 novel "Drood," which puts Dickens at the center of an occult mystery in 1860s London. Don't expect to see that one soon, though, since the "Pan's Labyrinth" director has his two-film adaptation of "The Hobbit" on his agenda first.
There may be one upside to this scramble to find a future blockbuster in the pages of the past -- think of all the Hollywood agents who now have to go get themselves a library card.