We're now up to five actors who've played Tom Clancy's CIA Boy Scout Jack Ryan: Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine, and John Krasinski. Thus far, only three have slipped on the skin of Ryan's Black Ops counterpart, the shadowy John Clark: Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber. Now, a third performer can be added to that list: Adonis Creed and Killmonger himself, Michael B. Jordan.
For the unaware, Clark was, much like Ryan and his creator, an Irish Catholic kid (real name John Kelly). Growing up in Indianapolis, he lost his firefighter father to a blaze and his mother to cancer. After serving in the Navy during Vietnam, Kelly saw his pregnant first wife killed in a car wreck. Shortly thereafter, he met and fell in love with Pamela Madden, a former prostitute forced to become a drug courier for a Baltimore drug ring. After her employers raped, tortured and killed Pamela, Kelly isn't so much a man as he is a raw nerve, ready to take revenge on the animals who stole his light away.
Without Remorse is the gnarly, no-nonsense tale of Kelly's transformation into Clark - something of an anomaly in Clancy's thrillers, getting away from the relative wholesomeness of Ryan for something nastier. The book will also serve as the basis for Jordan's first starring turn as the character, which makes sense, seeing how it's a prequel/origin story of sorts. One presumes the movie will end with the ex-Navy SEAL entering the CIA under his "Clark" alias, where he embarks on nefarious adventures as Analyst Ryan's "muscle".
According to Variety, Without Remorse is the first of two pictures Paramount is developing around the character, with the second being the much more widely recognized (thanks to the video game series) Rainbow Six, where Clark heads "Rainbow," a special NATO response team that can be rapidly deployed in terrorist situations. This is all great news. Not so great: the films will be supervised by producer Akiva Goldsman, whose track record as of late (or ever) has not been great. Think The Dark Tower. Then think no more.
The first major takeaway from this announcement is the fact that Jordan - one of our great young movie stars - is going to have his own action franchise. More Jordan is never a bad thing. It'll also be neat to see how they update the character, because unless it's a period piece, I doubt they'll keep the Navy 'Nam Vet background. Secondly, this John Clark duology comes shortly after Amazon and Paramount TV rebooted Jack Ryan via the eponymous Prime series (which totally rules). These movies feel like further votes of confidence in the Clancy IP, and possible proof that it's performing pretty well in our tough-to-measure streaming media landscape.
No director has been attached to Without Remorse or Rainbow Six as of yet, but we'll keep you fellow spy nerds updated as more comes to light. In the meantime, pour one out for Ryan Reynolds, whose dreams of becoming Clark have now been dashed.