The Toxic Avenger is one of the best exploitation films ever produced and is a true 1980s B-movie classic. It effortlessly fused together the superhero and horror genres to create a brilliantly comedic display of violence and gratuity. As such, it was followed by a line of sequels, and talk of a remake has gone on and off for the better part of a decade. In fact, at one point, even Arnold Schwarzenegger was attached.
But plans since then have seemed to fallen apart, leaving the future of the Toxic Avenger franchise uncertain. Now, though, we’re learning more about the failed project. Specifically, that director Kevin Smith was set to helm a remake, before turning down the offer due to budgetary concerns.
According to Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast, here’s what happened:
“I don’t really deal in that world that much anymore, I don’t have to sit with people that are corporate and have interests to protect, like, I’m in the walrus movie phase of my career,” Smith began the story. “The last thing, and it wasn’t even a big deal, it wasn’t like ‘I’m outraged!’… somebody asked me, ‘Hey man, we’ve got THE TOXIC AVENGER and we’re gonna remake it, do a reboot, and hey, you’re from Jersey.’ And you know, I always kind of dug what Lloyd Kaufman and the Troma people do, it was right in Jersey, I remember seeing them on the news all the time – ‘Hollywood, motion pictures in New Jersey? Right here at Troma!’ And TOXIC AVENGER was insanely well known. So I always respected the Troma world and Toxie franchise. So I was like, all right, I’ll go down the rabbit hole a bit and see what’s what.”
“And we parted ways fundamentally on the budget, because I was just like, ‘Part of the charm of the TOXIC AVENGER is that it was made for two nickels. If you’re gonna do it again, don’t spend a lot of money.’ But they were like, ‘No no no, it’s a 35 million dollar movie.’ And I was like, ‘It’s a f*ckin’ remake of THE TOXIC AVENGER, the guy in a tutu with a bad makeup job, what are we gonna spend all the money on?’ So right then and there, I’m clearly not on the same page. In my head, if I need to see a TOXIC AVENGER remake, it should be done in the spirit of the original. Instead, they were literally trying to start a franchise, Marvel-ize it and stuff like that. And I’m like, ‘I don’t know if you guys saw that movie.’ So I just quietly stepped away. I understand what they were going for, but I would never want to see that version of the movie. It would be like somebody doing a 35 million dollar version of CLERKS. Why would you bother?”
It’s unfortunate that Kevin Smith was brought in to do a remake only to have it be something that wouldn’t have made sense in the context of the original. Maybe one day someone will figure out why The Toxic Avenger worked so well and give us a follow-up worth seeing. Fingers crossed, eh?