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Sacha Baron Cohen to play Mandrake The Magician

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88th Annual Academy Awards - ArrivalsSacha Baron Cohen is set to play Mandrake the Magician for Warner Bros. Etan Cohen (Get Hard, Idiocracy) will direct the film, which is based on the popular character from the syndicated newspaper comic strip created by Lee Falk in 1934.

The story centers around the adventures of Mandrake, the illusionist and escape artist with the power to hypnotize his foes. With his companion Lothar, he travels the globe solving mysteries and fighting evildoers – including his twin brother who uses his powers for evil instead than good.

The Tracking Board have heard that the plan is to update the character for the 21st century, with Mandrake being recruited by the United States government for a secret mission. I hope they do more that just have Cohen play the character as a bumbling idiot, which I fear is what they may well do with it.

The film marks the first adaptation of the character since the 1954 TV movie starring Coe Norton, and the first feature adaptation since Columbia Pictures’ Mandrake, The Magician in 1939, starring Warren Hull. However, you will probably remember him from the Defenders of the Earth cartoon back in the 80s. That was when Lothar & Mandrake teamed up with Flash Gordon and The Phantom. I wonder if Warner Bros. will try and turn this new film into a shared universe with those characters.

The character, who has been described as “America’s first superhero,” is known as a magician whose work is based on an unusually fast hypnotic technique, through which his subjects see illusions when he “gestures hypnotically.” He uses the technique to defeat villains, including gangsters, mad scientists, extraterrestrials, and characters from other dimensions. He has the ability to turn invisible, shapeshift, levitate, and teleport thanks to the powers imbued to him by the hat, cloak, and wand he inherited from his father.

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