Is 'Shooter' A True Story? The USA Series Has A Few Sources Of Inspiration
USA's newest show has an interesting history. Shooter follows Bob Lee Swagger, a highly decorated veteran who is coaxed back into action to prevent a plot to kill the president. The new action series stars Ryan Phillippe, but it originated as a film in 2007, where the role of Bob Lee Swagger was played by Mark Wahlberg. So the show Shooter is based on the film Shooter, and that film is actually based on the book Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter, which is inspired by a real Vietnam sniper. With so many different versions of the story present, is any part of Shooter based on a true story?
The inspiration for Bob Lee Swagger is very real. As the character's creator Stephen Hunter wrote in The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives, Swagger's inspiration came from Carlos Hathcock, a Marine NCO who had 93 kills while on tour in Vietnam. Although Bob Lee Swagger is inspired by Hathcock, Hunter said, "The key to Bob Lee Swagger turned out to be not all the places he intersected with Carlos Hathcock, but all the places he deviated from him." So while Swagger has a real sniper as inspiration, the actually plot of Shooter is fictional and comes completely from Hunter.
The story of Shooter begins with Point Of Impact, the novel released in 1993. Point of Impact is a conspiracy thriller, following Vietnam vet Bob Lee Swagger as he gets caught up in a conspiracy when he is asked to go on one last mission. As the book description explains, "The assassination plot is executed to perfection—until Bob Lee Swagger, alleged lone gunman, comes out of the operation alive, the target of a nationwide manhunt, his only allies a woman he just met and a discredited FBI agent."
This plot is mirrored in the first adaptation of the story, the 2007 film Shooter. The film does get an update — as a Vietnam veteran would not likely be tapped for a military operation in 2007 — but other than that follows a similar story in which a former sniper is framed to take the fall for a government operation. The television show, premiering nearly 10 years after the release of the film, is a re-telling of the story in a television format, likely allowing for Bob Lee Swagger to spend time going on other adventures and not just the plot of the film version of Shooter.
As for the core plot of the show, Shooter promises that "when Swagger’s former commanding officer Isaac Johnson solicits his expertise in a clandestine operation, Swagger discovers that he is has been framed and must do everything in his power to protect his family and clear his name." No matter what version of the story you're getting, they're all almost entirely the same. A fictional story about a fictional man who is caught up in a fake conspiracy after a real war and was inspired by a real Marine. Shooter's origins may be complicated, but they should certainly make for an entertaining series.
Image: Dean Buscher/USA Network