|Directed by||Brett Leonard|
|Produced by||Avi Arad
|Screenplay by||Hans Rodionoff|
|Starring||Matthew Le Nevez
|Music by||Roger Mason|
|Edited by||Martin Connor
|Distributed by||Lions Gate Films|
|Release dates||April 30, 2005|
|Running time||97 minutes|
Man-Thing is a 2005 horror telefilm, directed by Brett Leonard and featuring the Marvel Comics creature created by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Gerry Conway. The plot is based loosely on a storyline by Steve Gerber, who wrote the most well-known series of Man-Thing comics. Agents of an oil tycoon vanish while exploring a swamp marked for drilling. The local sheriff investigates and faces a Seminole legend come to life: Man-Thing, a shambling swamp-monster whose touch burns those who feel fear.
The movie starts with an enigmatic description of the swamp spirit protecting Dark Waters, the Native American sacred land, and then moves to the brutal murder of a teenager by a plant-like monster.
The following day, young replacement sheriff Kyle Williams reaches Bywater and meets with deputy sheriff Fraser, who tells him that the previous sheriff was not the only missing person: At least forty-seven other people were missing, the first one having been shaman and Seminole chieftain Ted Sallis, since oil tycoon Fred Schist had bought the ancient tribal lands from Sallis himself to prospect. Schist claimed that Sallis had sold legally and escaped with the money, and asked the sheriff for help: Local protestors opposed his perfectly legal activities, and mestizo scoundrel Renee Laroque was sabotaging his facilities. Williams investigated this while at the same time trying to find an explanation to the missing people, some of which were found brutally murdered with plants growing from inside their bodies. Weirdo photographer Mike Ploog and shaman Pete Horn tell Williams local legends about the guardian spirit, suggesting that it could be real.
As sabotage and murder continue, Williams investigates the swamp with Fraser and finds the previous sheriff's corpse. Medical examiner Val Mayerik admits that the previous sheriff had ordered him to file the deaths as alligator attacks, even if Mayerik believed otherwise.
Williams and Fraser try to track Laroque, who lives in the swamp, by using a canoa. At the same time, Schist sends local thugs the Thibadeux brothers to track and murder Laroque. The monster in the swamp finds the Thibadeux and kills them. Williams is ensnared by Laroque, who admits having helped Schist buy the lands, but then claims that Sallis opposed to the sale; Laroque insists that the guardian spirit would keep on murdering until Schists stops desecrating the sacred swamp. Fraser tries to help Laroque, but the Man-Thing timely appears and murders Fraser; Laroque knocks Williams down and escapes. Williams wakes up and finds Ploog, who has blurry pictures of the monster; the sheriff seizes the photographs and forbids Ploog to come back to the swamp.
The following day, Williams interviews Horn and Schist, with schoolteacher Teri Richards' help, for whom he starts having romantic feelings.
Horn goes to the swamp and tries to stop the Man-Thing with prayers and sacrificing his life but, although the monster kills Horn, he is not affected.
That night, Mayerik autopsies the old sheriff and finds a bullet. He tries to tell Williams, but he is back at the swamp, unreachable; he tells Richards, and she goes to the swamp to tell Williams. Meanwhile, Ploog had returned to the swamp, trying to get a picture of the monster, but instead he startles Fred Schist, who was in the swamp to murder Laroque – Schist shoots and kills Ploog. Soon afterward, Laroque ambushes and defeats Schist's son and minion Jake.
Williams finds Ploog's corpse and reasons that Schist murdered Ploog. He then meets Richards, who tells him about Mayerik's autopsy. Williams concludes that Schist is guilty of several murders, trying to incriminate Laroque simply to avoid punishment – in fact, by Schist's confession to Laroque, he murdered Sallis and buried him in Dark Waters (which, due to the magic embedded in the soil, made him go back as the Man-Thing). Richards reveals that she can guide him to Laroque's lair but the Man-Thing starts chasing them. He chases them to the drilling tower at Dark Waters, where Schist is leveling his weapon at Laroque in an attempt to prevent Laroque to blow it away with dynamite. Laroque nonetheless tries to detonate his bomb and is shot and wounded by Schist; Schist then wounds Williams.
However, the Man-Thing arrives and brutally murders Schist by filling his body with oil. Then, the Man-Thing moves toward Williams and Richards. Laroque sacrifices himself shouting at the monster and blowing the bomb.
The monster survives the flames, but then is absorbed back to the land.
Deviations from the comic-book
The movie changed most of the source material. Among these are moving the setting from the Florida Everglades to Louisiana (though the film was actually made in Australia), and changing the creature's powers from burning those who "know fear" to being able to manipulate the swamp's vegetation. The movie also made no mention of A.I.M. or their attempt to steal the super soldier serum. The character is also represented in a significantly more antagonistic light than the comic-book version. Man-Thing's former identity remained Ted Sallis, though in the film he is portrayed as a Native American shaman instead of a scientist. Consequently, the Man-Thing's origin is somewhat different, though the Nexus of All Realities is still involved. Additionally, in a tip-of-the-hat to the original comics series, major characters are named after Man-Thing artists Mike Ploog and Val Mayerik and writer Steve Gerber.
- Matthew Le Nevez as Sheriff Kyle Williams
- Rachael Taylor as Teri Elizabeth Richards
- Jack Thompson as Frederic Schist
- Rawiri Paratene as Pete Horn
- Alex O'Loughlin as Deputy Eric Fraser
- Steve Bastoni as Rene LaRoque
- Robert Mammone as Mike Ploog
- Pat Thompson as Jake Schist
- William Zappa as Steve Gerber
- John Batchelor as Wayne Thibadeaux
- Ian Bliss as Rodney Thibadeaux
- Brett Leonard as Val Mayerik
- Imogen Bailey as Sarah
- James Coyne as Billy James
- Cheryl Craig as Michele
- Gary Waddell as Cajun Pilot
- Xoqui Pesce as Nurse
- Mark Stevens as Ted Sallis/Man-Thing
- Shannon Leonard as School boy
The film was originally intended for a 2004 video release, then upgraded to a theatrical release for Halloween to capitalize on the rising popularity of superhero-based films. Marvel did not think the film would be bankable in a domestic release, and put it back to video in the U.S., but did release it internationally. The movie was later released as a "Sci-Fi Original" on the Sci Fi Channel in 2005.
The movie was released in U.S. on DVD shortly afterwards. In 2007, it was also released as a two-DVD special edition in several European countries.