Back in the ’90s, when I was in my early teens, I inherited a large box of old MAD Magazine issues. A favorite activity quickly became picking one up at random and turning directly to the Spy Vs. Spy comic strip. The exploits of that black Spy and his arch-nemesis, the white Spy, were appealing for reasons I can’t even begin to recall. It probably had something to do with the elaborate deathtraps. I’m delighted then to hear the news from Deadline today that Ron Howard will direct a live-action adaptation of the classic comic strip, also producing alongside David Koepp and Brian Grazer.
It’s not going to happen immediately, as Howard is busy enough prepping his Dark Tower adaptation, but it’s officially on the docket, and that’s enough for the moment. Better to take the same approach he’s taking with the Stephen King series, make it right rather than quickly.
The only puzzling and potentially worrisome element here is the live-action angle. Is that really the best way to tell a Spy Vs. Spy story? I don’t know if I want my two Spies to look like people. Their cartoonish appearance is very much a part of the charm. Then again, the comic strips are very light and very formulaic, so there’s a lot of room for interpretation here. As long as the leaps are sensible, and ultimately entertaining in an Itchy & Scratchy sort of way, the fans will be served.