A Universal Soldier TV series seems like a perfect way to continue the franchise.
It’s been a minute since Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren blessed our screens in a Universal Soldier project. The last time they appeared together was in 2012’s Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, alongside Fortress of Solitude‘s favourite action star, Scott Adkins. But it’s been crickets since then.
Reportedly, a franchise reboot is in the works, with The Equalizer writer Richard Wenk penning the mysterious script. Speaking to Discussing Film (via Screen Rant), he said:
“I will say that I’m just finishing up a re-imagining—let’s be clear about this it’s not a remake and it is not a redo—but it is a re-imagining of a movie called Universal Soldier… Very much like The Equalizer, it’s the title that inspired me and not the movies… I’m just about to finish [the script] and turn it in this week.”
Well, that interview took place nearly three years ago, so it’s safe to say that Wenk’s script is either gathering dust on some executive’s desk or it was tossed into the blackhole where most film projects vanish. Irrespective of this, perhaps another film isn’t the right idea for this franchise in the first place.
While several Universal Soldier films were released throughout the years, they never managed to capture the imagination quite like the 1992 original did. It might not have been as revolutionary as RoboCop or Terminator were to the sci-fi action genre, but it delivered on what it promised: balls-to-the-wall action starring two of the hottest movie stars of the time.
That said, there was something missing from the first time the audience met Luc Deveraux and Andrew Scott: a stronger emotional attachment. While it’s easy to understand why director Roland Emmerich focused more on the action aspects, there’s certainly an opportunity for a deeper dive into these reanimated soldiers and their backgrounds. Of course, this type of narrative is bettered suited to TV than film.
Now, this isn’t an entirely original idea since there were plans for a Universal Soldier TV show in 2011, but it was quickly scrapped. Though, it might’ve been a godsend since it wasn’t the right time for it anyway. Network TV was never going to invest a lot of money into an R-rated show like this, so the producers would’ve needed to water it down or change it completely. And that’s not something that would’ve satisfied fans of the original franchise.
Thanks to streaming services like Netflix, however, it’s now possible for a story like Universal Soldier to be told without restraint. Imagine a 10-episode show that explores what happened to Deveraux and Scott but also fleshes out their story and doesn’t compromise on the action you expect. Doesn’t that sound a lot better than a film reboot that’ll likely tread the same territory as before?
Better yet, you could even bring back Van Damme and Lundgren for the TV show. As Cobra Kai has shown, a different format can often rejuvenate an old story. A Universal Soldier TV series won’t exactly become the next Game of Thrones, but it’ll pique the curiosity of the older fans and even some of the newer ones. And who wouldn’t want more action shows to watch?