While the cinematic return of Arnold Schwarzenegger – former world-champion bodybuilder, former Hollywood megastar and formerly the 38th Governor of California – took the form of last year’s underperforming feature The Last Stand, it was perhaps inevitable that the 66-year-old action-movie icon would return to the big screen. His latest role, however, enters the realm of the truly bizarre.
Arnie will reportedly be starring in a “reimagining” of the 1984 cult flick The Toxic Avenger, but not as Toxie himself. Schwarzenegger will be taking on another, as yet unspecified leading role.
Having made good on his promise to return to the screen after quitting politics, it appears that Schwarzenegger is making no attempt to slow down. He just wrapped production on End of Watch writer-director David Ayer’s Ten, and now we have Variety’s report of his involvement in The Toxic Avenger, a project that’s been around for quite some time, with Hot Tub Time Machine director Steve Pink at the helm. With 80′s-throwback vehicles like The Last Stand (and, similarly, the Walter Hill-directed, Sylvester Stallone-starring Bullet To The Head) pulling in mediocre business at best, it is interesting to see Arnie hitching what remains of his star to something like this.
For anyone who didn’t spend years haunting video stores and watching literally entire shelves of the horror section, The Toxic Avenger originally came from the schlock factory known as Troma Entertainment, known for making dirt-cheap exploitation flicks. Troma features were the kind of thing Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino would attempt re-popularize with Grindhouse, to varying degrees of success.
The basic plot of Toxic Avenger: a stereotypical 98-pound weakling janitor falls in a vat of toxic sludge and is reborn as the hulking, deformed Toxie, The Toxic Avenger, who takes on the nasty criminal underworld of Tromaville, New Jersey, led by the evil Mayor Belgoody.
Along with the other Troma “classics” Mother’s Day and Tromeo and Juliet, The Toxic Avenger is completely deranged. For some reason, Toxie took hold in pop-culture for awhile, perhaps as an acknowledged mock-symbol of environmental consciousness, which was only just starting to take hold at the time. The original film was followed by three sequels and a short-lived cartoon series, with this new incarnation being angled as “an action adventure geared toward mainstream audiences.”
Besides the Mayor role in the original, the only other prominent baddie was Cigar Face, the head of a ring of drug dealers; unless Schwarzenegger decides to give us what we really want and play Toxie himself (is it really that much of a stretch from Mr. Freeze?), it seems pretty likely he’ll end up chomping the scenery, the cigars – and wind up on the wrong end of Toxie’s mop.