Johnny Depp is America’s First Superhero: Harry Houdini

Johnny Depp Finding Neverland

Everyone knows the name of Harry Houdini, the famous escape artist who also spent his spare time disproving the paranormal. He's been portrayed on camera before by the likes of Harvey Keitel, Guy Pearce and even Tony Curtis, but you've never seen him like this before: played by Johnny Depp, and as an action hero a la Indiana Jones.

That's the set-up for The Secret Life of Houdini: America's First Superhero, a Lionsgate production directed by Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) that currently has Johnny Depp in negotiations to play the lead. The fictionalized (obviously) retelling of the life of Houdini will find him investigating the occult and, one assumes, finding more than he bargained for and putting his famous escape act to good use.

Hollywood Reporter reports in their typical Hollywood fashion that the screenplay will be written by Noah Oppenheim, who is also attached to the upcoming young adult adaptation The Maze Runner and an in-development remake of WarGames.

Harry Houdini's adventures have been jazzed up before, in the magician's lifetime, in a series of pulp stories, some of them ghostwritten by influential horror author H.P. Lovecraft. The Secret Life of Houdini will be based on a more recent book of the same name by authors William Kalush and Larry Sloman.

Is this old-fashioned sort of action/adventure what Johnny Depp needs to get his A-list prestige back after the high-profile flops The Lone Ranger and Transcendence? We'll find out.

William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel and the host of The B-Movies Podcast and The Blue Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.