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The Rock to lead a shared universe of old-timey folk heroes in John Henry And The Statesmen

Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

Long before Marvel was a twinkle in Stan Lee’s sunglasses, wizened storytellers gathered around campfires to spin their own expanded universes about the folk heroes of yore. Now, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s here to Irish whip those mythical figures out of history and onto the screen with his Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle director Jake Kasdan.

Kasdan will produce John Henry And The Statesmen, in which Johnson will play the story’s namesake steel driver, a popular figure of American folklore and the face of numerous labor movements. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the story will fold in “the most popular figures from folklore and legend from all around the world” into what Seven Bucks Productions’ Hiram Garcia calls “an expansive universe of characters.” Yep, they’ve got franchise designs on this one.


“These diverse characters speak to a legacy of storytelling that is more relevant than ever and span across a worldwide audience regardless of age, gender, race or geography,” Johnson said in a statement.

John Henry and the Statesmen, which was born from an original pitch by The Lego Ninjago Movie writer Tom Wheeler, was scooped up by Netflix in what was reportedly a huge bidding war. Don’t expect to see it in your queue anytime soon, however, as Johnson’s got a Jumanji sequel, The Jungle Cruise, Hobbs and Shaw, that Big Trouble In Little China remake, a Braveheart-style drama about Hawaii’s King Kamehameha, and an action movie with Gal Gadot in the hopper.

Where the hell does he find time to work out?

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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