According to this article at Cinematical, it looks like the awesome Sam Raimi will be directing a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, with — get ready to be excited — Robert Downey Jr., as the Wizard. (That guy there, to the left, is Frank Morgan in the 1939 film.)
According to the article, the movie will explain how Downey’s character, a “circus wrangler,” got to Oz and became the great and powerful wizard. I have no idea what sort of story Raimi is planning to tell — Cinematical has this slightly distressing follow-up story, which I’m assuming is mostly conjecture – but I sure hope he uses the Wizard’s real name, which was revealed in the fourth Oz novel: Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs.
Raimi is an imaginative director — check out not just his Spider-Man movies, but also Darkman and the Evil Dead trilogy. I’d say he’s perfect for this material. His lightly twisted visual style should definitely serve him well, too.
If you just can’t wait for the movie — I know I’m pretty edge-of-my-seat right now — why not reacquaint yourself with the book that started it all, L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (first published, if you can believe it, 110 years ago)?
And if you’re curious about Baum, the man who — like Lewis Carroll — wrote adult stories that looked like kids’ books, check out L. Frank Baum: Creator of Oz (2002), an excellent biography by Katharine Rogers.
Oh, and you simply must pick up Aljean Harmetz’s The Making of the Wizard of Oz, one of the very best making-of books you’ll ever read. Oh, heck, let’s just say it: this is the definitive chronicle of the production of the classic movie. The book’s been reissued a handful of times since its publication in 1977, and it’s pretty easy to find.