Variety reports today that Universal hopes to revive its old Invisible Man franchise with a spy movie. David Goyer (co-writer of Batman Begins and writer of all three Blade movies) has signed on to write and direct, with Imagine Entertainment's Brian Grazer producing. The trade paper says, "Conceived as a sequel to [H.G.] Wells' original tale, the story centers on a British nephew of the original Invisible Man. Once he discovers his uncle's formula for achieving invisibility, he is recruited by British intelligence agency MI5 during WWII."
The article calls this "a new take" on the Wells classic, but the idea of an invisible spy has actually been done before, even in that same era. Universal's own fourth entry in its original Invisible Man series was called The Invisible Agent (1942) and featured the first Invisible Man's grandson volunteering to use his formula and aid the Allied cause during WWII, as a spy behind German lines. Then in 1958 future Danger Man/Secret Agent creator Ralf Smart cut his teeth on the espionage genre with a television series called H.G. Wells' Invisible Man, in which the character (very unlike Wells' version, despite the titular possessive) worked for British Intelligence in a contemporary Cold War setting. (It's an enjoyable show, featuring a number of familiar spy faces who would go on to appear in Bond movies, The Avengers, Danger Man and other Sixties spy shows.) The 1992 Chevy Chase take on the character, Memoirs of an Invisible Man (directed by John Carpenter!), also had an espionage element, with Sam Neil as an unscrupulous CIA agent.
So Goyer's concept is hardly a "new" take, but it's certainly a welcome one. I love the old Invisible Man movies, and I think a spy story makes the most sense for a character with such powers. The WWII setting intrigues me as well. I hope this gets made!