In a world of sci-fi entertainment filled to the brim with reboots, it’s not surprising to hear this news from The Nerdist:
He’s a fussy and fastidious, supremely intelligent, thoughtful and determined, brave man of science and action. He’s an icon of British science fiction and an explorer of alien life the world over. In fact, he’s the very first sci-fi hero in the United Kingdom. No, it’s not the Doctor, though you’d be forgiven for thinking it was. We’re talking about Bernard Quatermass, the star of three hugely influential series on the BBC in the mid-’50s, beginning with The Quatermass Experiment in 1953. Now, Legendary and Hammer Films are teaming up to bring Quatermass to the big screen for a whole new generation.
Yes, Hammer Films is working with Legendary to bring back Bernard Quatermass… and I, for one, love this particular reboot idea! Not particularly because it’s a reboot, mind you… but because it’s Quatermass.
As the copy above indicates, Quatermass is a science hero, not a caped superhero or hyperactive adventurer or robot or some kid who takes on the system and improbably wins. He’s a scientist, the head of a rocket group and an investigator of alien activity. Over the years, writer Nigel Kneale’s character has appeared in numerous series and played by a number of actors in film and television series.
I was introduced to Quatermass, the way most Americans were, through the movie Quatermass and the Pit, aka Five Million Years to Earth in the states. In it, Quatermass is summoned when human skulls and strange, insect-like corpses are dug up in an excavation for the London Underground. Quatermass soon determines that the insects are alien in origin, and finds he must help when exposure of the corpses spawns some strange psychic energy that threatens to tear London apart.
Most Americans’ exposure to Quatermass starts and stops there, but the impact of the movie continues to this day. In addition to Quatermass and the Pit, there have been two other movies and five TV series, as well as books and newspaper serializations. He predates the Doctor (Who) as the preeminent sci-fi character in Britain, and was himself introduced only 3 years after Dan Dare, the British science fiction comic hero. His 50-year run in Britain has resulted in higher renown and popularity there.
I’ve said before that I have a particular love of science heroes over most adventure and comic book characters (also well-represented by Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr and Dr. Alan Grant), as it’s always my hope that such characters will inspire young people to further explorations into real science. Admittedly, Quatermass’ adventures are best known for his explorations about aliens, but there’s no reason his adventures can’t delve into more realistic subjects. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing the new movie(s) if this project works out.