Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit?

So, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a thing.

jack-ryan-shadow-recruit_smallI’m wondering how this works. Normally, Hollywood licenses a book or series of books and adapts them, however loosely, into movies or tv shows/series. But Shadow Recruit is not a novel written by Tom Clancy, it’s an ‘original story based on the Jack Ryan character’.

What now?

Is there some sort of licensing that let’s them do this? Or a loophole in the existing licensing?

I ask because I can see a slippery slope here. If film studios have the rights to a character outside of the original work – ie novels – all sorts of things become terrifyingly possible. Such as:

  • Aragorn: Dragon Hunter
  • Harry Potter and the College Of Doom
  • Lestat: Eat, Pray, Hunt
  • National Lampoon Presents: Hannibal Lector in Dorm Daze
  • Bridget Jones’s Other Diary
  • True Grittier: The Reckoning

Now, please don’t misunderstand me – I realize that the last couple of movies based on the Clancy Jack Ryan novels have been, at best, ‘inspired by’ the original works. Hollywood decided that, despite the character actually maturing from book to book in the series, in the movies, he should get younger and younger.

Which brings us to Shadow Recruit, styled quite openly as a ‘reboot of the movie franchise’. Apparently without the silly books getting in the way. Which is weird. Or, I think it’s weird. Do you think it’s weird?

Am I making a big deal about nothing here? I mean, if you truly wanted to ‘reboot’ the series, couldn’t you still look to the source material? If you wanted to start over, you could adapt Without Remorse, arguably one of the best books in the series. Although Jack isn’t in it, his dad is, and so are a lot of the surrounding characters. You could use that to build the foundation for future installments and do them in chronological order for Jack’s character and let the audience mature with him, just as they did with the books.



  • J.T. Evans Posted January 16, 2014 12:11 pm

    Seeing as how Sherlock Holmes and Watson (as characters) were recently dropped into the public domain by an American judge (even though there are still a few stories under the copyright umbrella), I would have to imagine that the movie studio had to, at a minimum, license the use of the character(s) used in the movie. Just like buying the rights to do a Spider Man movie, you don’t have to follow the script of previously published material (though, it’s probably a good idea to do so for the “origin story” first movie.)

    Here’s a link to an article about the Sherlock Holmes ruling: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/27/sherlock-holmes-is-in-the-public-domain-american-judge-rules/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

  • Patrick Wood Posted January 17, 2014 5:50 am

    Without Remorse is my favorite Clancy book. I would rather see a John Kelly movie. He’s an interesting character.

  • Michael J. Martinez Posted January 18, 2014 10:42 am

    This already happened with James Bond decades ago. They’ve drifted back and forth between the books and original stories for years. Some were excellent, some…less so.

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