Legendary Entertainment has acquired feature film rights to The Toxic Avenger, with a reboot of the iconic Troma horror-hero franchise in the works. Original directors Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Kaufman’s iconic b-movie studio Troma Entertainment will serve as producers on the new film.

The Toxic Avenger centers on Toxie, born when a mild-mannered janitor named Melvin, from Tromaville, NJ, took a tumble into radioactive toxic waste. The feckless Melvin emerges transformed into Toxie, a repulsive (yet oddly endearing) mutant hero who stands up to bullies and corruption with often lethal zeal.

The original film premiered in 1984 starring Mitch Cohen as Toxie. It spawned three sequel films, a stage musical, a children’s cartoon TV series and a Marvel comic.

Alex Garcia and Jay Ashenfelter will oversee the film for Legendary.

Kaufman set out to make a horror film that had a fitness gym setting (a sly idea since it was inspired by Kaufman’s pre-production work on the original Rocky film) but the rhythms of The Toxic Avenger are closer to old sci-fi B-movies and comic book stories.

It was fitting that Toxie would eventually end up in the pages of Marvel Comics because in many ways he followed in the foot-stomps of the Hulk, the Thing, the Man-Thing and other transmogrified Marvel outsiders who were created by radioactive or chemical misadventures. Toxie’s background as a nerdy underdog also chimes with the many Marvel characters (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers, etc.) who grew up scrawny and bullied.

Unlike classic Marvel stories, however, The Toxic Avenger is punctuated by graphic violence and debauchery. The Garden State hero has an inventive flair for sadistic acts of mutilation such as the armed robber who gets his “just desserts” when his face is redecorated with a whirling milkshake blender. The laughs may be cheap but the special effects were even cheaper, adding to the genre charm.

And, yes, Toxie may resemble a popped blister but in hindsight he also looks like a pioneer. He was an early model of the gleefully lurid, R-rated superhero sub-genre now epitomized by Fox’s highly successful Deadpool films (which also center on a mottled, mutated murder-machine created by weird science).

Sam Raimi’s Darkman, James Gunn’s Super and Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass are other ultra-violent vigilantes from the most sordid and subversive corner of superhero cinema.

The trailer for the original film…